Some prisoners moving close to Houston
Some prisoners in Texas have been forced to move, and some of the bad guys have been transferred closer to the Houston area.
The prisoners are being transferred because of prison guard shortages. About 200 inmates from the Smith unit in Lamesa are now in a facility just north of Huntsville. Jason Clark of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice tells KTRH these are hardened criminals.
“Those are offenders that have had disciplinary issues and that require closer supervision,” Clark told KTRH.
So why is there a guard shortage? Lance Lowry of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says it's because guards aren't paid enough.
“The state legislature and the Governor’s office has balanced the budget on the backs of state employees. We haven’t kept up with the cost of living,” Lowry explained to KTRH.
Lowry says salaries need to be increased.
“They haven’t had a pay raise in the last two fiscal years,” Lowry said.
Hear the podcast with Matt Patrick and Houston's Morning News as he talks with Lowry:
Clark told KTRH he thinks salaries are something the state should be looking at.
“Ultimately that will be something state leadership will look at and determine if that’s possible or not,” Clark said.
Prison guards make just 28 thousand dollars a year to start, plus a 3,000 dollar sign up bonus. That salary gets bumped up – after seven years – to 37 thousand dollars.