Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TDCJ AFSCME union featured in the New York Times regarding prison heat suit

By Lance Lowery/AFSCME Union
(As published in the New York Times)

HUNTSVILLE, Tex. — IN August, right around the time when the Texas summer heat was at its brutal worst, the state’s prison system finalized a bid to replace its aging swine-production facilities with six new climate-controlled modular barns, at a cost of $750,000.

The pigs raised for inmate consumption were going to get relief from the heat, but the state’s inmates would continue to suffer. In the last six years, at least 14 inmates died from heat stroke or hyperthermia in overheated Texas prisons, where air-conditioning is scarce and temperatures can reach 130 degrees...

See the full article by clicking here

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Attorney General's Office/TDCJ deny Backgate Request for details about TDCJ Director's secret service style security detail

Brad Livingston
By Michael Williams, Backgate Website

About 90 days ago the Backgate broke the story on what many would call fraud, or at the very least, misappropriation of public funds. The Backgate received credible information just weeks after a Colorado prison chief was killed by a gunman at his residence as he answered his front door, that TDCJ's Executive Director was implementing his own security detail. Information gained from employees within the agency itself alleged that Livingston pulled Office of Inspector General officers off Huntsville area units. thus bringing ongoing cases there to a standstill, to follow him and his family on the streets of Huntsville 24/7.

 The officers racked up what some allege as thousands of dollars in overtime in the weeks they spent shadowing Livingston and his family. Officers escorted Livingston's wife and child to grocery stores, school activities, and anywhere else they needed to go. Sometimes sitting overnight in a vehicle outside of Livingston's personal home just outside of Huntsville. It was also alleged that Livingston ordered that an extensive alarm and video surveillance systems be installed in his personal home that came out of the taxpayers pockets. All the while there were no credible threats against Livingston or his family. Livingston allegedly spend thousands and thousands of dollars on personal security, even after granting himself a substantial raise while line staff got a mere 5% bump.

We asked TDCJ to answer these tough questions and asked for overtime usage hours and costs for the duration of his security, which lasted approximately 30 days. We also asked if OIG staff were reassigned to him from TDCJ units where they are already dangerously short handed with investigators. TDCJ refused to answer and referred our questions to the AG's office for an opinion on it's release. The AG's office finally answered and denied our request in full. They contend that by releasing the amount of overtime money spent on the project that it could somehow jeopardize Livingston's security in the future. They also refused to answer questions as to who authorized the expenditures, and whether or not taxpayer money was used to purchase alarms systems for Livingston's personal residence. So as it stands, the veil of TDCJ secrecy and blatant disregard for supplying taxpayers answers to legitimate questions about it's operation continue. We contacted state Senator John Whitmire's office 5 weeks ago regarding the implied cover-up and have yet to hear back as of today. We however won't stop here. Stay tuned.

See our original Story and reader comments by clicking  HERE !!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Retired Texas Inspector General shares 20 years of experience with Texas Youth Commission

By Duane Stuart, Backgate Website

 With over 20 years service with the Texas Youth Commission, Randal Chance writes about corruption, poor management, and gives his two cents on how it should be fixed. Some of what he has to say is eye opening, yet not surprising. The book is a great read from cover to cover and sheds light on some of the most horrendous management practices anywhere. We thank Mr. Chance for allowing us to preview the book.

 An excerpt from “Carnal Society”:
“The justice system has become a dynasty of corruption and cover-up of abuses that allows mistreatment of those that the system should protect and allows the ‘raping of the public’ by rogue officials.”

“I hope readers will become aware of the real truth and not rumors after reading through my book,” says Chance. “Take private and public actions to stop the ‘rape by the state’ by communicating with public officials to correct the sickening conditions.”

To get your copy of "Carnal Society" Click HERE

Saturday, November 16, 2013

High profile TDCJ escapee Arcade Comeaux dead of natural causes

By Tonya Peters, Backgate Website

Notorious prison escapee Arcade Comeaux, 53, died in a Armarillo prison last week after complaining to staff of shortness of breath and chest pains. Several corrections officers were fired or retired after the convicted sex offender, believed disabled, pulled out a smuggled pistol, fired it and fled on foot while in a van en route from Huntsville to Beaumont in 2009.

He disarmed and handcuffed two officers. Comeaux spend several days free as he attempted to elude law enforcement and prison officials in the Houston area until his arrest by Houston Police Officers and Federal Marshals. Comeaux was serving a sentence of life in prison for a 1998 aggravated sexual assault conviction in Brazos County, northwest of Houston.

He was given two extra life sentences after being convicted of stabbing his wife and another person in 1999 while she visited him in prison. Both survived the attack. He also received more prison time for the escape. The Comeaux ordeal brought about changes in the way the TDCJ transported inmates and general security issues.

Thickening field of applicants for upcoming Texas elections promises to make the races interesting

None may ever be as colorful as our interview with Texas musician, animal lover, novelist and frequent office seeker Kinky Friedman a few years ago, or up and coming prior Republican Gubernatorial candidate, now seeking the Texas Comptrollers job, Debra Medina.

Over the years our little grass roots website has interviewed several of the hopefuls and this election season won't be any different. Stay tuned as we interview some of the newest hopefuls for top positions and find out their thoughts on Texas criminal justice and prison issues. From their mouths to your ears.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Houston TV news does story on TXDOT's usage of it's state jet for personal use. Can we top that ?

KPRC TV news in Houston published a story this week about how the TXDOT used and abused their state owned jet for personal use. Does it happen more than you know ? We think it does. Stay tuned for the story regarding the jet used by TDCJ administrators. You won't want to miss it !

Check out KPRC's story on TXDOT  HERE!

Friday, November 1, 2013

TDCJ still dangerously short of staff

 TDCJ claims they are still over 3,000 Officers short statewide as of October 1st. Over 5 Million dollars was spent on overtime for the McConnell unit in South Texas for the month of September alone. So what gives and how do we correct these issues ? Weigh in as we try to get insight!