Governor Is Warned About the Texas
Correctional Crisis


HUNTSVILLE - In a letter delivered last week, the head of the largest union
representing corrections officers called on Texas Governor Rick Perry to take
emergency steps to alleviate the critical shortage of security personnel in the
state’s prisons.
"Governor, we face a public safety crisis," wrote Brian Olsen, Executive
Director of Correctional Employees Council 7 of the American Federation of
State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME). "If the state fails to deal with
it, the consequences could be catastrophic - for correctional officers and the
general public. None of us wants to see a repeat of the violent Texas 7
escape."
Olsen wrote that the state needs to take emergency steps to retain current
corrections officers, recruit new ones, and entice former officers to return to
the system. Those steps would include:
           1) An emergency 10% pay raise for all correctional officers and
               legislative passage in 2009 of a second 10% raise that
               includes all agency staff.
           2) Ordering the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
               to hold discussions with employee representatives on ways to
               improve morale and reduce turnover as provided by Senate Bill
               909, which passed last year.

In recent weeks, TDCJ has reduced the number of prisoners held in units to
deal with a critical shortage of correctional officers (CO’s). In testimony during
last year’s legislative session, TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston
acknowledged that the agency is losing 5,000 officers a year and that the
shortage stood at 3,600 at the time.

"My members believe the current situation is far worse and that we are likely
5,000 correctional officers short of the 26,000 + that we need," Olsen wrote in
the letter.

"We are long past the days when TDCJ could stall reform until the public
shifted its attention elsewhere," wrote Olsen in concluding his letter. "Today,
the stakes are too high and the price for failure is too dear. Please Governor,
take action today."
AFSCME/CEC7
Texas Governor
Rick Perry
Governors Office
PO Box 12428
Austin, TX

January 15, 2008

Governor,

As the Executive Director of the largest employee organization representing
state correctional employees (AFSCME/CEC7) I am obligated to send out
this letter. In light of the state wide crisis in manning the state prisons it is
incumbent upon me to ask you to help with this very important public safety
issue.

Recently it has come to light that several units around the state have cut the
number of inmates due to lack of correctional staff. This is just the tip of the
ice berg. Those units are so understaffed many officers are required to work
much of their "off" time under the mandatory overtime policy, and yet the
units are still under staffed. This is a severe crisis that is only getting worse
by the day.

What I am asking is that an emergency pay raise be given to the security
correctional officers immediately of 10%. This would be a raise for all those
that work in gray including Food Service, Laundry, and Supervisors. This
shot in the arm of pay would do much to keep good employees, and bring in
new professional employees. This raise must be done Now! Then during the
Legislative session another 10% should be given to the entire agency just to
get them to a respectable professional level. Too long this problem has
gone on, and now we are in a dangerous situation for the public at large, let
alone the officers and the inmates. Its time that Texas come into the 21st
century with the rest of the country and work with the employees instead of
against them. We also ask the Texas Senate Bill 909 be implemented by the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice. This allows TDC to enter into a
partnership with its employees to make it a better place to work.

We must stop this massive turnover and with this two pronged attack,
(Emergency Pay Raise), and (enacting SB909 as an employee Partnership),
we can stop much of this hemorrhaging that is costing the Texas taxpayers
millions of dollars. Please contact me at your convenience.

Respectfully,

Brian E. Olsen
Executive Director
AFSCME/CEC7
Office 936-295-5265
Cell 936-661-4610