Monday, June 6, 2011

As TDCJ recruiting slows, overtime usage increases.

By Victoria Anderson, Backgate Website 

TDCJ facilities statewide have posted dwindling numbers of Correctional Officers to staff there prisons, and there seems to be no relief in sight.  The Huntsville Correctional Training academy now trains the majority of the recruits themselves, leaving some satellite regional training facilities with little to do. TDCJ states that the Region III training facility located in Rosharon has suspended new recruit training classes and has been focusing exclusively on staff in-service classes for the past few months. That facility once held classes for new recruits numbering 90-120 employees every 6 weeks.

With budget cuts looming for the agency, and employees being laid off due to those spending cuts, the agency has slowed recruiting down to see what happens with the state budget.  In the mean time, prison facilities statewide are reporting staffing issues as administrators are having problems keeping their "priority one" duty posts filled and in compliance with agency policy. Overtime usage has started to rise once again and appears to be the only way to fill the voids. Even though the agency seeks to send employees home prior to them accruing overtime hours that would lead to a paycheck, many staff members are now supplementing their incomes by working overtime.

The Backgate has submitted a request for the number of empty Correctional Officer positions statewide, and the amount of overtime usage for the entire state. As that information is made available to us, we will pass it on by updating this story. What is your take on the overtime, staffing situation where you work ? Has staffing created a dangerous work environment ? Do you favor overtime pay for current staff over the hiring of new staff ? Let us know what you think by posting comments below.

12 comments:

  1. Yeah, they should wait on hiring too many new folks. Who knows what they're going to be able to afford. Is overtime more expensive to the state than hiring new folks? It's just time and a half. So really, it's just the half. So the state could make the investment in current staff by throwing them a bone and helping them out a little. It costs the state the extra half, but isn't that half better than having to train new folks that for the most part are just going to quit in a few months? Isn't the state supposed to be doing right and not getting sued and taking the citizen's money by losing it in suits? Keep on pooping on the established, experienced bosses and bring in a bunch of green boots. Those are the folks to save the citizens of Texas some money... yeah, right.

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  2. TDCJ-ID comes out better financially by leaving positions vacant and paying overtime. I never could figure out why TDCJ-ID would totally ban overtime. Maybe the supervisors were being too wasteful with the way they implimented the overtime policy. At one point they were using a driver to transport guards to inmates who were already at the freeworld hospital. Instead TDCJ-ID could give guards the option of taking their own vehicle, or parking a TDCJ vehicle and letting the guards they were relieving bring the vehicle back to the unit. The driver created the need for an extra guard for the entire shift. They would also wait thirty minutes after shift briefing to leave for the hospital. This would tie up five people for an extra hour doing nothing, but a briefing, for a shift that they were working at the freeworld hospital. The same people usually worked the overtime. People who are already working mandatory comp time are not going to be as productive and efficient, if they work all those extra hours. Our major checked on a bunch. He found that many were sleeping.

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  3. Double edged sword - you hire new officers only to have them transfer to other shifts or quit outright. Then too officers (not just new ones) are being walked off for the most seeminly minor of things. Frustration is at an all time high. Very few are not afraid of losing their jobs for one thing or the other. Numbers are dropping daily.

    Do I like the overtime? Yes. It comes in handy and beats the heck out of working a lower paying job just to make ends meet but at the same time it seems that while everybody volunteers for it only a few can be counted on to actually accept it and come in. I myself just finished a 7 days stretch and chances are they'll be calling again today but for the time being it seems more cost effective.

    Before a recruit can even fill a vacancy it costs a couple of thousand dollars just to get that individual through an academy and all that's flushed down the toliet if they can't handle the job and quit. Those dollars would be better served to pay overtime and fill the void and shouldn't be stopped now or in the immediate future.

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  4. well what i dont understand is if the state of tx is in such a crisis with its budget why are these training facilities that are "in limbo" not being shut down? Why does TDCJ have so many "training academies" to begin with? Would it not be cost productive to shut some of them down?

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  5. Of course it would be cost effective to close them down. There has neen a lot of wasteful cronyism in those training academies for too long. If TDCJ-ID doesn't riff them, those cronies could at least be used as temps at the units. There is at least one (K.J.) at the Ramsey academy that gets scared to death when she enters a unit.

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  6. What the heck is this im hearing about a field Lt at Darrington letting one of his officers dismount his horse to fight an inmate, only to get his butt whipped???????? Got demoted and sent to one of the Ramseys?

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  7. TDCJ-ID increased the number of training academies to prepare cadets for increases in hiring. The increases in hiring were to fill unfilled positions and positions that were vacating quickly. Everybody knew, from recent history, that as unemployment increased guard turnover would reduce. TDCJ-ID was continuing to increase the size of the academie, as positions were being eliminated, which filled most of the vacancies. Shutting some of the academies down will definitely be cost effective. The shut down should have taken place at least a year ago.

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  8. I from region 5, was wondering if there was a list of units in my region that are accepting overtime?? I love my job at the state and really dont want to get a second job that may or may not work around my schedule....any help would be appreciated! I know my specific unit does not allow overtime. So any relevant information would be great!

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  9. It would be nice to get some overtime in the gatesville area units. Instead, they make us come in late the next day so we do not get overtime. I have seen officers come in 4 hours late. They will not even let us keep the comp time.

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  10. Well if they keep up this mandatory overtime alot or going to get burned out, some are doing the 16 hrs. and what happens if they wreck on the way home? What about the officers who have other jobs on their 4 days off and cant do mandatory overtime, then they get written up. They wonder why so many have quit, wake up people.

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  11. If you haven't figured it out TDCJ's upper managment you know the folks the ones in the ivory tower could care less if you stay or go live or die. The only thing they give a hoot about is cultural diversity and ACA. its just a matter of time before someone gets killed behind the stupidity...

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    1. i will be starting on aug.22 and am looking forward to it.all of u are forgetting one thing.its all about public safety.its about pride on what you do.they may need to hire a more mature experienced crew instead of whiney snively cry babies who werent cut out for the job.try law enforcement and work a traffic fatality for 36 hours straigt as i have and then u can complain.get a set and do your.none appreciates it more than i do.have pride in what u do for you are the most important people in law enforcement.

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