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Inmate families speak out amid Texas prison staffing shortage

20 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

The Texas prison staffing shortage continues to strain families of inmates, prompting calls for urgent solutions.

Inmate families speak out amid Texas prison staffing shortage - Inmate Lookup

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has identified the shortage of prison staff as a top concern, with staffing gaps affecting various units. A concerned individual, choosing to remain anonymous, highlighted the dire situation, noting that certain units have minimal presence, with only one or two guards overseeing different sections.

Working in prisons, while not easy, plays a crucial role in maintaining community safety. Despite recent pay increases, a quarter of these positions remain unfilled, posing challenges not only outside the prison walls but also affecting the well-being of inmates within.

An inmate serving a life sentence escaped the Clemens Unit in Brazoria County this week. The facility is staffed at 84%. The next day, he was apprehended.

TDCJ stated that his escape was not due to staff shortages. They place blame on the mother of the prisoner, a former correctional officer who knew how things operated and took advantage of a weakness.

According to a report, state auditor data reveals a concerning turnover rate for state employees across all agencies, reaching 23% in 2022, marking a 4% increase since 2018. Within TDCJ, the turnover rate rose by 8% during the same period, surpassing the statewide average by 10%.

A family member of an inmate expressed dissatisfaction with the situation, emphasizing the responsibility of TDCJ to provide proper care. The suggestion to shut down or decrease TDCJ units due to insufficient staff is met with skepticism.

TDCJ acknowledges the Texas prison staffing shortage challenges and is taking steps to address them. By the end of next year, there will have been a sizable pay increase of 25% over three years. This increase seems to be working, with nearly 75% of all prison jobs currently filled, marking an 8% improvement from the previous year.

To further enhance recruitment efforts, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice aims to fill open positions and allocate additional funds to incentivize workers. Initiatives include the establishment of a new career center, hosting more recruitment events, and implementing increased marketing strategies.

The same family member of an inmate emphasized that the incarcerated individuals are human beings who deserve fair treatment, beds, meals, and the opportunity to take hot showers.

Some express the hope that these initiatives may draw in additional personnel to maintain community safety and the lives of their loved ones incarcerated.