Advocacy Group Calls for External Oversight of TDCJ

Citing potential cost savings, the need to monitor Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees and prisons, and inmate rights, advocacy groups call for an independent oversight of the state’s prisons system.

After several employees of Texas prisons were indicted for conspiring to plant screwdrivers in an inmate’s cell, many people feel that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can no longer effectively run our state prisons.

Several advocacy groups are calling for an independent outside entity to serve as the watchdog of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  The recent felony charges and ongoing problems at TDCJ and state prisons highlight the need for an independent agency to conduct investigations into the state agency.

External oversight of TDCJ will help avoid scandals, improve rehabilitation, identify problems and conduct routine monitoring of all employees.

The screwdriver incident lead to an investigation which uncovered a quota system implemented at several TDCJ prisons.  Several wardens and correctional officers resigned, were fired, demoted, or transferred.  More than 600 disciplinary cases against inmates were dismissed. A major and three other prison guards have been indicted on felony charges of tampering with government records and misdemeanor charges of official oppression in the incident.

Outside agencies have been calling for an oversight committee since 2013 when a scathing report was released by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has not been subject to oversight since 2002.