TDCJ Staff Shortages Slows Down Parole Releases

The staffing shortage at TDCJ is causing a backlog in releasing parolees.
The staffing shortage at TDCJ is causing a backlog in releasing parolees.

The on-going staffing shortage at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is slowing down the release of offenders with approved parole.

TDCJ recently implemented small measures to increase their staff at the prisons but most of those measures are for hiring new guards. Several sources speculate this will not be enough to eliminate the bottleneck of parolees waiting to be released so it does not seem the issue will be resolved anytime soon.

The staffing shortage seems to affect offenders granted an FI-1 favorable parole vote the most.

Since the fall of 2017, there has been a mass exodus of TDCJ employees with 28 percent of officers quitting. Overall, 14 percent of TDCJ personnel had resigned from their positions by the end of 2017. 

By the end of 2018, TDCJ was still short 3,000 officers and an overall vacancy rate of 15 percent despite pay raises and bonuses.

Little has changed since then and the number of vacancies keep ticking upward with critical positions remaining unfilled.

A recent review of the TDCJ website shows they are hiring for 341 positions in both prisons and administrative areas with many positions requiring multiple people.

Prison officials initially asked the Legislature for $168 million in extra funding for raises. However, by the end of the legislative session, only $90 million was approved. 

It is curious that there is a shortage of funds for personnel who monitor and work directly with inmates but there is no shortage of funds for executive directors.

Here at TexasParoleNow.com we talked with staff  at the Parole Division Ombudsman’s office, TDCJ, and Records Division and everyone reports their offices are chronically understaffed and personnel are spread thin.

The new projected dates for offenders granted parole are:

Certificate Issued – It is now taking between 45 to 60 days for an offender granted FI-1 parole with no requirement for classes to receive their parole certificate.

Release Date – After receiving the parole certificate, the actual release date and named release facility is taking anywhere from two to four weeks to receive.

Transfer – After receiving the release date, expect the actual transfer and release to be within seven to ten days.

The new timeframe means that parole release could be slightly over three months after parole is approved.

TexasParoleNow.com understands this can be frustrating for offenders and their families. However, unless Texas Legislature decides to make a real investment in their staffing issues at TDCJ there is nothing that can be done. There is no legal remedy to the administrative slow down as parole is a privilege and not a right.

Keep in mind that the estimated times listed above can vary and are not new target dates for TDCJ.

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