Looking Towards 2001

Looking in retrospect over the past year, we see very little change inside the walls of TDCJ. One year has come and gone since Correction Officer Daniel Nagle was murdered by an offender(s) at the McConnell Unit in Beeville on December 17. 1999. Few new rules and regulations have been put in place to aid the correction officer since his death. The violence inside has continually grown, with employee injuries rising sharply.

Officers marched in Austin in January 2000 demanding that they be heard on issues concerning working conditions and salary. A meager increase in pay was gained for a few COs, but it was not substantial enough to keep seasoned corrections officers working for TDCJ. The numbers of those quitting or retiring still out numbers those being hired. The thin gray line of officers has declined with little strengthening in sight. As the violence inside rages the line of resistance decreases.

Today, as this letter is written, seven offenders remain at large after overpowering a number of TDCJ staff and overtaking a picket at the Connally unit in Kenedy. After taking the clothes of an officer and a number of civilian staff, they escaped with about a dozen weapons and a state vehicle. But inmate aggression isn't new to the Connally unit. Like the McConnell unit in neighboring Beeville, Connally has been plagued with staff assaults and hostage situations in the past year. But these are just two of the "hot spots" in our prisons.

While some units have already begun the C.O.P. (carry on person) gas canisters, we must ask whether or not it has come too late. Officers are told to use this device as a last resort to protect themselves against their own serious bodily injury. But this along is still not enough to ward off a number of inmate attackers on a single officer or civilian employee.

While all eyes had been turned from Texas to Florida regarding the Presidential race, offenders have taken advantage of the thinning ranks of gray. Regretfully, our legislators have been more interested in putting the Texas Governor in the White House than helping save the lives of the Texas Correction Officers. The escape at Connally and other units will continue until TDCJ and our State Legislators realize that the penal system is in trouble.

The system is old and antiquated. A complete overhaul is needed. Not only do Correction Officers need an increase in salary to match the national average, but better working conditions are needed. Self defense tactics and intensified training programs are not enough to combat the violence inside our prisons. Yes, they help, but an increase in the number of officers would help greatly.

Now, with George W. Bush on his way to Washington, perhaps his replacement will direct the Texas Congress towards a means to help the plight of the TDCJ Correction Officer and Civilian Employee. Perhaps Texas can get on with the business as hand to make our state a safer place to live. The question remains, "Will they respond in time to prevent another officer from being killed in the line of duty?"

A Former Correction Officer

Introduction Statistics: 2000 Statistics: 1999
Statistics: 1998 Statistics: 1934 to 1997 The Monument at Sesquicentennial Plaza
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
To Governor Perry
Email Last update 09/22/ 2001 Letter to Public (#2)
2000 - 2001  

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