A Letter to
Governor George W. Bush

Dear Sir:

It is widely known through out the State of Texas that the Texas prison system is in trouble. You are apparently the only person who doesn't believe it.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Institutional Division (TDCJ-ID), a fancy name for our prison system, is now the largest in the national, surpassing California in August with more than 163,300 offenders behind bars. There are about 28,000 Correction Officers working security over these offenders.

The national average for Correction Officers ranges from $21,927 to $34,036. The California pay scale ranges from $25,589 to $39,720. Even though Texas has the largest prison system, the pay scale ranges from $19,954 to $30,973.

The State Legislature voted to give a pay increase by means of a step raise which amounted to a mere $138 per month. But there were restrictions so only about 13,000 officers benefited. Of course, that didn't last long, because our insurance premiums and medical copayments were raised at the same time. Why don't Correctional staff receive a cost of living increase each year like most goverment agencies?

The violence in TDCJ-ID has shown a steady increase in staff assaults as well as inmate violence. There were 1258 staff injuries the first eight months of 2000 due to inmate aggression per TDCJ-ID Risk Management. We are so understaffed that some units are making overtime manditory, yet when the officers can't work, they are receiving disciplinary. Could you work 12 hours day 6 days a week with being terribly exhausted?

Correction Officer Daniel Nagle was stabbed to death at the McConnell unit in Beevile, Texas on Dec. 17, 1999. We began an immediate campaign at that time to request more officers, better working conditions and a salary increase. To date, Governor Bush, you seem indifferent to our situation.

Officers have proposed a "sick-out en masse". The idea is for every officer in the state to call in sick on the same day. This would force you to call in the National Guard or Texas State Guard. However, there are enough dedicated officers who will not do this. At the same time, more and more officers are calling in sick, especially on weekends. We never have enough officers and often have to curtail some of the normal activities to provide the minimum amount of security.

So far your attitude towards Corrections Officers has been, "They should be thankful they have jobs", I believe was one of his quotes. What is going to take, another officer or more than one more officer getting killed before you realize the Texas prison system is antiquated. Our buildings are falling down around us yet they are talking about building more prison facilities. Who is going to staff them?

If you think so little of the people of Texas, how can you make a decent President? But, then you really isn't from Texas, are you? You just moved here to get elected Governor, knowing it would boost your chances to be elected to the Presidency.

If you think so little of our job, I challenge you to put on one of our uniforms and walk into any one of our maximum security units without all of your security team members for just one shift. Perhaps then, you will realize that without us, all of the criminals will be walking the streets again because they will have burned every unit down. Remember the Santa Fe, New Mexico riot? It can happen right here in Texas!

There are twenty-one TDCJ-ID employees who have died in the line of duty. How many more will follow them? What is it going to take before you and the citizens of Texas realize that the Correction Officers are the backbone of the prison system? It is weak and frail, and each day it becomes more likely to break.

How much longer can you deny that we are in trouble? Long enough for an correction officer to die at the hands of an inmate? How many of us must die before help arrives? I just hope it arrives in time!
A Correction Officer

Introduction Statistics: 2001 Statistics: 2000
Statistics: 1999 Statistics: 1998 Statistics: 1934 to 1997
Inside The Wire Letter to the Public To The Texas Legislature
Salary: Texas vs. Nation Poetry From Behind The Wall Poems From The Picket
To TDCJ Officers Officer Experience Letter to Governor Bush
The Monument Letter to Governor Perry Letter to the Public #2

2000 - 2001

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Last update 09/22/ 2001

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