TDCJ 1995 Anual Report Table of Contents
Introduction ......................................................................... ii
Letter from the Chairman .................................................... 01
Message from the Director ................................................. 02
The Board of Criminal Justice ............................................. 03
TDCJ Organizational Chart ................................................ 04
TDCJ: An Overview .......................................................... 05
TDCJ Facilities .................................................................. 15
l Institutional Division Prison Units ...................................... 16
l Pre-Release Centers ........................................................ 39
l State Jails ......................................................................... 41
Statistical Information ......................................................... 45
If bigger is better, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ranks among the best of
its kind in the nation. How big is the agency responsible for the supervision of some
700,000 adult offenders?
"The mission of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is to provide public safety, promote positive change in behavior, and reintegrate offenders into society."
"The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will be open, ethical and accountable to our fellow citizens and work cooperatively with other public and private entities. We will foster a quality working environment free of bias and respectful of each individual. Our program will provide a continuum of services consistent with contemporary standards to confine, supervise and treat criminal offenders in an innovative, cost-effective and efficient manner."
Letter from the Chairman Allan B. Polunsky
The year 1995 was a historic one for the Department of Criminal Justice and the State of Texas. We completed the nations largest prison construction program on time and under budget. We brought an end to the overcrowding which had plagued county jails since the 1980s. And we clearly and convincingly demonstrated to Texans that parole decisions are no longer influenced by a lack of prison capacity.
But this is no time to dwell on past achievements. There are many challenges ahead. First and foremost, the Department must maintain its exemplary record in prison management at a time when more and more inmates are serving longer sentences with no prospect of early release. The Department is responding to this issue through a variety of innovative construction and management practices, and will continue to constantly re-evaluate our procedures in light of the hardening inmate population.
No less important are the agencys efforts to combat recidivism. Fortunately, with a substance abuse treatment initiative which is unparalleled among state criminal justice agencies, one of the finest educational programs of any correctional department and the nations only state jail system specifically designed for non-violent criminals, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is now capable of addressing many of the social problems which contribute to recidivism.
We look forward to serving you and the people of Texas with new goals, new strategies and new optimism for the future.
Allan B. Polunsky
Message from the Executive Director Wayne Scott
Dear Chairman Polunsky:
Unprecedented growth has transformed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice into a multi-faceted criminal justice agency second to none in the United States.
But TDCJs expansion is only one of the many success stories written into the annals of Texas criminal justice. As a result of the increased bed space, a substantial county jail backlog was eliminated. Subsequently, the citizens of Texas were spared millions of dollars in compensation to counties for housing inmates we were previously unable to accept.
Expansion also allowed the Board of Pardons and Paroles to better scrutinize parole applicants, as evidenced by a drop in the parole approval rate from 75 percent to just 21 percent this year. Meanwhile, the State Jail Division completed its first full year of operation with 11 facilities housing predominantly young, non-violent first-time offenders. The division is also now responsible for the operation of eight 500-bed substance abuse treatment centers in the state.
A number of well-received community service projects were launched during the year, including Operation Fresh Approach, an innovative program in which TDCJ provides land and labor for the growing of fresh produce for local food banks. Other community service projects include a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for the needy and assisting local governments in community clean-up and restoration projects.
The year 1995 and the preceding years have brought change and unprecedented growth to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. As we prepare to meet the challenges of the years ahead, we must continue to seek new and innovative ways to manage our vast agency. The reputation of TDCJ as a leader in the field of criminal justice will continue. With the support of our elected officials, the Board of Criminal Justice and a staff of true criminal justice professionals, TDCJ is prepared to meet the challenges of 1996 and beyond.
The Board of Criminal Justice
Texas Board of Criminal Justice (seated from left): Chairman Allan B. Polunsky of San Antonio; Vice-Chair Ellen J. Halbert of Austin; Carol S. Vance of Houston; and R.H. Duncan of Lufkin. (standing from left): Secretary John R. Ward of Gatesville; Nancy Patton of Lubbock; John David Franz of McAllen; Carole S. Young of Dallas; and Joshua W. Allen of Beaumont.
The Texas Board of Criminal Justice is composed of nine non-salaried members appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor designates one member of the board to serve as chairman.
Currently serving on the Board are: Allan B. Polunsky of San Antonio, Chairman; Ellen J. Halbert of Austin, Vice-Chair; John R. Ward of Gatesville, Secretary; Joshua W. Allen, Sr. of Beaumont; R.H. Duncan of Lufkin; Carole S. Young of Dallas; John David Franz of McAllen; and Nancy Patton of Lubbock.
The Board meets, at a minimum, once per calendar quarter and usually more frequently as issues and circumstances dictate. The statutory role of the Board is to govern the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It employs the Departments executive director and develops and implements policies that clearly define the respective responsibilities of the Board and staff of the Department.
TDCJ Organizational Chart
TDCJ: An Overview
The final half of the decade leading to the 21st Century finds the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in a new era with a new focus on reducing recidivism and protecting the public from violent, hard-core offenders requiring long-term incarceration.
The agency is in position to accomplish those tasks thanks to completion in Fiscal Year 1995 of the largest prison expansion program in history.
The need for new focus has never been greater. One of every 25 Texans is under some form of adult criminal supervision in Texas. Thats 700,000 people in prison, on parole or on probation. Appropriately, then, this 1995 Annual Report of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is not the report of one year in one agency, but rather it is an assessment of TDCJ in the context of a new era in the overall adult criminal justice system in Texas.
Texas Criminal Justice: Five Years of Amazing Change
One need go back only five years to see changes which have totally transformed the adult criminal justice system in Texas. Since 1990:
The prison system grew from 48,000 beds to 145,000, from 40 units to 114.
Three independent adult criminal justice agencies - the Department of Corrections, Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Adult Probation Commission - were merged to make one seamless agency, the TDCJ
The idea of designing prison units exclusively for the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse was conceived and 5,300 beds were built and dedicated to that purpose.
A new criminal code was written to create a special class of felony offense for non-violent property and drug crimes and 25,000 beds in newly-constructed state jails were dedicated to such offenders.
Prisons: Ten Years of Amazing Growth
Indeed, what has happened to the Texas prison system in the past 10 years is amazing. In that time, the system quadrupled in size, going from 37,000 prisoners to a bed capacity of 145,000, an increase of 108,000 beds. The increase alone is larger than any other state prison system in America today, except California.
The Impact on Texas
The prison expansion program of the past five years isnt the whole story of the changes TDCJ and Texas have experienced. In addition:
From 1990 through 1995, county jails were stacked like cord wood with convicted felons awaiting transfer to non-existent prisons. At one point the backlog of state prisoners topped 35,000 - more than the total capacity of all county jails in Texas.
Throughout history in Texas, the Board of Pardons and Paroles had granted parole to about 25 percent of all the eligible cases considered. But as a result of overcrowding, and under pressure of federal lawsuits, the Board increased its approval rate to as much as 79 percent, and in one year alone, 1990, released 56,000 prisoners to the streets, more than the population of the prison system at that time.
But with more and more prison units opening, the parole rate plummeted to 21 percent in 1995.
And thanks to expansion, by the summer of 95, the last state prisoner lingering in a county jail was transferred to prison and the backlog was a thing of history. By the time the backlog was emptied, the state had paid the counties in less than five years more than $650 million in fines and boarding costs.
And even while the Parole Board was shutting the gates, the Texas Legislature, on three different occasions, lengthened the mandatory hard time to be served on all violent crimes, raising the minimum from one-third to one-half, and setting 30 and 40-year hard time minimums on the most heinous capital crimes.
What the Texas Department of Criminal Justice accomplished in the prison expansion program deserves mention if not praise.
The expansion program was paid for with $1 billion bond issues approved by Texas voters in both 1991 and 1993. But only $1.5 billion of that money was spent.
And amazingly for a government project, TDCJ brought the expansion program in ahead of schedule and under budget.
In the end, the expansion was accomplished at one-half the national average prison construction cost. Even though private contractors were used for all general construction, that record was accomplished through the use of prototype prison designs and the use of many inside components, such as all the fabricated steel, made inexpensively in in-prison industries by unpaid inmate labor.
An Engineering Marvel
It was considered an engineering marvel at the time. Still is. The idea of building 75,000 prison beds in two short years was a stretch even for those in the construction business. But to do it at a cost less than half that of the national average for prison construction was downright unthinkable.
But then, Texans have always done things in a big way.
This challenge was put to a staff of engineering professionals working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. And they were more than up to the job, completing 94 different building projects ahead of schedule and under budget.
Components of the grandiose construction program included 10 state prisons, 4 transfer units, 14 substance abuse treatment facilities, 18 state jails, 4 private prisons, 3 medical centers, and a single intermediate sanction facility for parole violators. The Facilities Division also oversaw the addition of 13,876 beds at 29 existing units in an emergency building program that spanned only 16 months.
So brisk was the pace of construction that during the 1995 calendar year, nearly one prison unit a week was being completed and turned over to the TDCJ for occupancy.
How did they do it? Good planning, good management, and good help.
The Facilities Division is responsible for the concept, design and contract administration of approved construction projects performed by both in-house construction and outside contractors. Facilities is involved in all stages of the construction project, beginning with the selection of an architect and the creation of the construction bid documents. Facilities bids the project, awards it, and then manages the project to its completion.
Not resting on its accomplishments of the past two years, Facilities is gearing up to meet the new challenge of adding up to 12,000 high security beds over the next two years at a rock bottom cost of $26,000 per cell, fully 20 percent less than 1994 prices. To accomplish the task, Facilities will make use of a simple building design, inmate laborers and building components provided by prison industries. The nine facilities will utilize closed circuit TV monitoring, motion detection sensors, and a taught wire perimeter to reduce operational costs. Cell blocks will be self- contained, reducing inmate movement within the facility.
Facts About Prison Life
So, today Texas has a prison system which has 114 units, a capacity for 145,000 inmates, and runs on a budget of almost $2 billion a year. TDCJ has more than 40,000 dedicated employees, including 32,000 correctional officers who work for less than $25,000 a year. A look inside those big numbers reveals:
Prison operating costs are 15 percent below the national average. It costs $30 a day or less to keep a minimum security prisoner to as much as $59 a day in maximum security.
The officer-to-inmate ratio of 4 to 1 is lower than national averages of 5 and 6 to 1.
By utilizing technology and electronics, the officer-to-inmate ration in the systems new high security units will be a national low of 3 to 1.
Every inmate in the system has an assigned job and works a full shift every day unless ill or in transit. No other state can say that.No prisoner is paid for working. No other state can say that.
Morning wake-ups start as early as 3:30, and, following breakfast, many prisoners are on the job as early as 5:30 a.m.
All prisoners wear white uniforms made by prison industries, and all prisoners must keep their hair short and their faces cleanly shaven. No other prison system requires that.
TDCJ operates more than 40 prison industries, ranging from a tire recapping plant, to garment factories where all inmate and officer uniforms are fashioned, to a mattress factory, to a furniture factory, to a soap factory. The Department is the leading repairer and renovator of public school buses, and, yes, license plates are still made along with the signs seen on Texas roadways.
Prison industries produce $100 million of goods and services a year, not only for the prison system, but for other state agencies, cities, counties and school districts.
Prison agriculture programs produce another $34 million worth of food for the prison system, and recently prison farms have also started supplying millions of pounds of fresh produce to food banks in major metropolitan areas.
Inmates who dont work in the prison industries all have jobs in prison support functions such as laundries, kitchens and maintenance.
Typical On-Hand Inmate Profile
Gender Race Age
l 93% of inmates are male
l 47% are black
l 28% are white
l 25% are Hispanic
l 33 years is the average age
l 10th grade is the average school year claimed completed.
l 60% never finished high school or passed the GED.
l 7th grade is the average educational achievement score.
l 92 is the average I.Q.
Offense of Record
l 38% committed violent offenses
l 30% committed property offenses
l 25% committed drug offenses
l 7% other and unclassified
Sentence Length/Time Served
l 20 years is the average sentence length
l 33% is the average percent of sentence served
l 50% have been in prison previously
Myths About Prison
Texas prisons do not mirror the myths so often ascribed to life behind the walls.
Yes, inmates have color television. But put that in context. Watching TV is a privilege. First an inmate must do his days work and he has to keep his nose clean before he can watch the tube.
Typically, there is one TV set in a day room that serves anywhere from 50 to 100 inmates. The room has straight-backed wooden benches bolted to the floor.
And, no, the televisions are NOT paid for with tax dollars. The TVs are purchased with profits from commissary sales to inmates. In other words, inmates pay for the televisions, not taxpayers.
And, no, inmates cannot watch HBO or other specialty channels. The sets get only the basic channels and the remote controls are controlled by the officers.
TV is a management tool for wardens and officers. It is a privilege which can be taken away. It is also the cheapest way to occupy the inmates free time, a lot cheaper than paying extra officers to control the mischief inmates create when they have idle time.
Myth: Texas doesnt have chain gangs. Right, and for good reason. If an inmate is so dangerous that he must be in leg irons, he shouldnt be outside the unit at all. But, on any given day, there are hundreds of outside work crews laboring under the direct supervision of armed officers.
Myth: Prison escapes are a major problem. Wrong. History shows that attempted escape from the Texas prison system is a fruitless endeavor since those who try it are soon recaptured and have another 5 to 10 years tacked on to their sentence. Of 18 escapes last year in a system of 100,000-plus inmates, all were recaptured and returned to prison.
A final myth has the prison system paying all of its attention to inmates while ignoring their victims. Wrong. TDCJ established and devotes a good deal of resources to its Victims Services Office, which assists crime victims all the way from the trial court to the parole process, including a 24-hour-a-day hotline which serves victims in any way possible.
Parole and Probation
Theres more to the adult criminal justice system than just the prisons.
Since the 1990 merger that created the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Board of Pardons and Paroles has been totally independent from the agency. The 18-member Board appointed by the Governor makes all decisions on granting parole and revoking parole. But once the Board grants parole, the administrative business of supervising parolees is the job of the Parole Division of TDCJ. There are 125,000 Texans on parole to be supervised by 1,000 of our parole officers.
Probation is the business of the counties, but the money to pay for it comes through TDCJ - $225 million a year to the local probation departments for probation officers to supervise about 400,000 probationer.
Some 145,000 inmates in prison, 100,000 offenders on parole and 400,000 probationers adds up to almost 700,000 Texans under one kind of supervision or another. Thats one out of every 25 residents.
Victims are an Important Part of the Equation
TDCJs Victim Services Office provides help to crime victims and their families after the offender is prosecuted and begins to serve his or her sentence.
The office is responsible for a 35-point victim notification program to keep crime victims informed of the status of the offender in the post-court disposition process, maintaining a confidential notification data base of more than 25,000 victims.
Victim impact panels are used when appropriate, and a mediation program is available upon request to provide crime victims the opportunity to have a structured face-to-face meeting with their offenders in a secure, safe environment in order to facilitate healing and recovery.
In addition, a one-of-a-kind "behind the walls" Crime Stoppers program has been implemented to obtain information from incarcerated offenders that would lead to the resolution of unsolved criminal cases. The Victim Services Office also tracks cases for victims who request personal interviews with the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
A free 1-800 status hot line for victims is also provided through the Victim Services Office. During Fiscal Year 1995, nearly 24,000 calls were answered.
Where Do We Go From Here
Obviously, crime cannot be eradicated simply by building more and more prisons. Taxpayers cant afford it. Prison, parole and probation will always be mainstays in the world of adult criminal justice, but there has to be something else, something more constructive.
Even with 145,000 capacity, projections show that the prisons will be full and county jails will begin backing up again by the end of 1996.
TDCJ is already authorized to open another 12,000 beds by September 1997 to again clear out the new backlog, if only so it can begin again.
But the expansion, the ability to house violent criminals for longer terms, has already contributed to a decrease in the crime rate.
Even with new, longer maximum sentences of 30, 40 and 50 years, someday, virtually every offender will come out of prison.
There are only two places to cut crime: turn off the spigot that creates new criminals before they get to prison, and find a way to make legal, useful citizens of former offenders once they leave our back door.
A quest to reduce recidivism is the new era of challenge for the prison system. But it is not new to TDCJ. It starts with education. This year, more than 50,000 inmates will participate in prison education programs. Within the prison walls, TDCJ has a fully-accredited public school system specializing in the basics, getting an offender qualified to read and write. More than 10,000 GED certificates will be earned in Texas prisons this year.
Reducing recidivism means modifying behavior, and it is important that every inmate in the system has access to counseling and to 12-Step programs to combat substance abuse.
More than 43,000 Texans are involved in the prison system statewide as volunteers in counseling and inmate assistance programs, and these efforts contribute significantly to helping offenders prepare for a successful re-entry into society.
But the best prison counseling program is wasted if there is no follow-up assistance programs in the community when an offender is released.
TDCJ work programs not only teach discipline that is necessary to live a straight life on the outside, but they also teach job skills, including those skills which are in demand, such as those taught in records conversion and digital mapping industries.
But just as with counseling, the best job training in prison goes for naught if there isnt a job available on the outside when an offender is released.
Volunteers Play an Essential Role
in Rehabilitation of Offenders
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has placed a new focus on volunteer services with the realization that it is an essential element in the management and rehabilitation of criminal offenders.
Clearly, volunteers can often be effective in influencing offenders because many who volunteer have "walked a mile in their shoes" and know firsthand what the offenders are going through. This element can restore hope and bring assistance and training to inmates so that they too can become productive citizens.
The role of the volunteer is to provide guidance in specific activities and programs; promote personal growth and development; provide support and assistance to inmates and their families; and to help ease an offenders re-entry into the community.
Presently, more than 8,000 citizens volunteer their services to the prison system on a monthly basis, with the majority working with the chaplaincy and substance abuse treatment programs.
During the past year, some 43,550 citizens and 234 agency employees gave of themselves in an effort to redirect the lives of offenders. An estimated 240,000 hours have been donated by volunteers, which represents more than $1 million in cost benefits to the state.
An Educating Experience
Accredited academic and post-secondary programs are provided to inmates in the Institutional and State Jail division through the Windham School District and the Continuing Education Division. Windham provides programs of basic literacy through GED preparation that also prepare inmates for employment after release.
Additionally, career and technology education and pre-release training are offered for eligible inmates. Remedial and compensatory education programs offered include Special Education for the handicapped and English as a Second Language for the non-English speaking inmate.
Inmates are eligible for Windham programs if they do not have a high school diploma. Participation is mandatory for those who cannot read at the sixth grade level. Participation is voluntary for those deemed literate, but who have less than a high school diploma.
During the 1994-95 school year, there were 50,345 participants in Windham programs in the Institutional Division and 2,204 participants in the State Jail Division. Windham awarded 5,350 GED certificates and 7,475 vocational certificates of completion.
The Continuing Education Division provides appropriate post-secondary academic and vocational programs which lead to certificates and/or associate, baccalaureate or masters degrees. A total of 12,546 students participated during the last school year.
Project RIO is also supervised by the Continuing Education Division. Project RIO works to establish a linkage system for offenders between training and services provided in TDCJ to training services and job placement provided by other agencies once the offender is released.
The ultimate goal of Project RIO, as well as that of the Windham School District as a whole, is to reduce recidivism, thereby reducing the cost of confinement and increasing the success of former inmates in obtaining and maintaining employment.
Some Final Thoughts
In the big picture, prison is humane. It is sanitary. The food may not be gourmet, but it is a balanced and nutritious diet. But still, prison is not a nice place to be. It can be a dangerous place, for prisoner and officer alike. Prisons are filled with men and women not wanted in communities and neighborhoods; people who have shown a propensity to make bad choices and do mean and ugly things.
They dont change the day they come to prison, and thats why inside prison there is virtually every crime known in the freeworld, from rapes to theft to assaults and bribery. It is the daily challenge of prison management to keep that to a minimum, to stop it and to enforce appropriate punishment on those who commit such acts.
Prison management will become a tougher job now that more and more inmates will be serving longer and longer minimum terms. There is little incentive for good behavior from an offender who is 32 years old and looking at 40 hard years and knowing he would be 72 years old if and when he finally gets out.
That is what is called the hardening of the system and it presents special challengers to prison management, particularly while committed to reducing recidivism among those offenders who will be getting out before they are old.
It is both challenge and opportunity on a grand scale.
Capacity of Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities has surpassed 145,000 beds, making it the largest penal system in the nation. During FY 95, 30 units were constructed and brought on-line, increasing capacity by 36,356 beds. At the close of the fiscal year, 98 units were operational, with others ready to be opened when needed. Up to 12,000 high security beds are authorized for construction at existing units over the next two years.
Namesake: James V. Allred, former Texas governor
Date Established: 1995
Address: 2101 FM 369 North, Iowa Park, TX 76267
Telephone: (817) 855-7477
Location: Approximately 2 miles north of U.S. Highway 287 on FM 369
Custody Level: Maximum
Unit Capacity: 2,832
Number of Employees: 651
Approximate Acreage: 320
Agricultural Operations: edible crops, field crops
Namesake: Dr. George C. Beto, former Texas prison director
Date Established: 1980
Address: P.O. Box 128, Tennessee Colony, TX 75880
Telephone: (903) 928-2217
Location: 6 miles south of Tennessee Colony on FM 645 in Anderson County
Custody Level: Maximum
Unit Capacity: 3,150
Trusty Camp Capacity: 214
Number of Employees: 781
Approximate Acreage: 3,774
Agricultural Operations: Beef cattle, hogs, field crops and edible crops
Industrial Operations: Metal sign shop, concrete/block plant
Construction Operations: Headquarters for Northern Area Construction
Special Operations: Regional medical facility
Namesake: William R. Boyd, first mayor of Teague and presidential medal recipient
Date Established: 1992
Address: Rt. 2, Box 500, Teague, TX 75860
Telephone: (817) 739-5555