|A Letter to|
|Governor Rick Perry|
Since taking the oath as Governor of the State of Texas, it appears you will only be following the ground work set up by your former boss, Governor George W. Bush. Please note that he abandoned a group of Texas citizens who requested his assistance. . . the Texas Correctional Officers. Are you going to turn your back on them also?
In August, 2000, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Institutional Division (TDCJ-ID), a fancy name for our prison system, became the largest in the national, surpassing California with more than 163,300 offenders. In August, when this event took place, there were about 28,000 Correction Officers working security over these offenders. That number is now smaller.
In November, 2000, news media reported the national average salary for Correction Officers ranged from $21,927 to $34,036. According to this report, Alaska has the highest pay with more than $40,000 annually. California pays their seasoned officers $39,720 per year. Texas officers can expect a maximum salary of $30,973, nearly $9,000 less than California. Puerto Rico has the lowest salary of less than $25,000.
Last August, State Legislaturors voted in a step raise for correctional officers, a mere $138 per month. This raise, however, had restrictions so only about 13,000 officers benefited. Our insurance premiums and medical copayments were raised. The end result was no raise. Why do correctional staff and all other TDCJ-ID employees fail to receive a cost of living increase each year like most goverment agencies?
In 1999, Correctional Officer Daniel Nagle spoke out regarding safety issues within the system. A strong advocate of a correctional officer salary increase, CO Nagle predicted that it would take the death of an officer before legislators realized the need for additional funding, additional staffing and better safety features. Little did he know he was predicting his own death. Still, no action has been taken and the situation has steadily declined.
Violence in TDCJ-ID has shown a steady increase in staff assaults as well as inmate violence. More than 1600 staff injuries occurred during 2000 (excluding December) due to inmate aggression. This was reported by TDCJ-ID Risk Management. Units are so understaffed that some have made working overtime manditory. Officers who can't work because of fatigue receive disciplinary. Could you work 12 hours day 6 days a week with being terribly exhausted?
Recently, the nation has been held in awe as the "Texas 7" have steadily gained notarity. Not only were TDCJ employees assaulted and beaten by these 7, but they have robbed and killed outside the prison walls. The warden and several correctional officers have been disciplined as a result, but nothing has been done to curtail staff shortage. In fact, TDCJ officals have down played the shortage. Could this escape have been prevented IF the shift had been fully staffed on December 13th?
You have requested billions of dollars to build more prisons to house more offenders. It is estimated that 1 in 5 Texas adults will be in prison by the year by the year 2005. Who is going to work at these prisons? The National Guard?
If you think the correctional officer's job is easy, and that they are overpaid, I challenge you to put on a gray uniform. Walk into any one of our maximum security units without your security team members for one shift. Perhaps then, you will realize that without the COs, the criminals will be walking the streets again. Remember the Santa Fe, New Mexico riot? Remember the "Texas 7". It has happened right here in Texas! It can happen again!
Twenty-one TDCJ-ID employees have died in the line of duty. How many more will follow them? What must TDCJ staff do to help 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 can you deny that the Texas prison system is antiquated and in trouble? Must more prison staff die at the hands of inmates? How many of us must die before adequate funding is made available to repair this broken down system? Only time will answer these questions!
|A Former 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|
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Last update 09/22/ 2001
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