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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
July/August 2014

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Correctional officer and parole officer pay raises, offender health care funding highlight TDCJ's Legislative Appropriations Request

Texas budget graphic

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) for the FY 2016-17 biennium has been submitted to the Governor's Office and the Legislative Budget Board (LBB). In addition to requesting funding necessary to maintain current operations, the LAR identifies 12 priorities for additional appropriations, the largest being a $235 million "exceptional item" which would provide a 10 percent pay raise to correctional officers and parole officers, to include ranking correctional officers as well as Laundry and Food Service managers.

The second largest exceptional item involves additional funding requested by the university health care providers. These two items alone - correctional officer/parole officer pay raises and offender health care - account for about three-fourths of the new funding requested.

Additional funding is also sought for renovation and repair of existing facilities, contractually required per diem increases, probation supervision, reentry, mental health and substance abuse treatment, parole halfway house beds and hiring more Office of Inspector General investigators.

In addition, the agency’s LAR expresses support for an across-the-board pay raise for all state employees as well as funding to ensure the state’s employee pension program remains fiscally sound for the long term.

Approval of the agency's LAR by the Board of Criminal Justice, which occurred during their August 22 meeting, and subsequent submission to the governor and LBB are the first steps in a budget process that will not conclude until May 2015 at the earliest. During the fall there may be one or more hearings in which the appropriations request is discussed with legislators or their staff. The first version of the general appropriations bill will be filed once the legislative session begins in January 2015, and that bill will provide the starting point for five months of deliberation in legislative committees and on the House and Senate floor. Once approved by the Legislature, the state's budget for the next two fiscal years will go to the governor for approval.

According to TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston, the agency's responsibility to exercise fiscal restraint is reflected in the FY 2016-17 budget request, which only seeks additional funding for items considered to be of critical importance.

"Pay raises to enhance recruitment and retention, funding to maintain adequate offender health care and other increases requested are directly related to meeting our basic operational requirements regarding incarceration, supervision and treatment," said Livingston. "We have once again attempted to balance our responsibilities as fiscal stewards with the significant policy or operational issues identified in our appropriations request."

Although funding for the state employee pension program is not in the TDCJ budget, Livingston said maintaining a fiscally sound retirement system is another agency priority. The pension program is administered by the Employees Retirement System.

Livingston also emphasized that the agency will continue using the TDCJ website and Connections newsletter to keep employees informed of fiscal and policy developments impacting TDCJ employees.

A copy of the TDCJ Legislative Appropriations Request, as well as a brief summary of the LAR, is available on the TDCJ website.

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ACA recognizes TDCJ's full accreditation with Golden Eagle Award

TDCJ senior staff accepts Golden Eagle Award
 

TDCJ senior staff accepts the Golden Eagle Award. From left to right, Correctional Institutions Division Director Bill Stephens, Private Facilities Contract Monitoring Oversight Division Director Oscar Mendoza, Executive Director Brad Livingston, Deputy Executive Director Bryan Collier, Health Services Division Director Lannette Linthicum, Administrative Review and Risk Management Division Director Paul Morales, and Manufacturing and Logistics Division Director Bobby Lumpkin.
Photo courtesy of the American Correctional Association

 

In August, during the 144th Congress of Correction Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) was recognized by the American Correctional Association (ACA) with the Golden Eagle Award. The ACA presents the prestigious Golden Eagle to criminal justice agencies that have achieved accreditation of all aspects of agency operations, to include accreditation of every facility under its jurisdiction.

The ACA's standards are national benchmarks for secure and effective operations of correctional departments, and agencies must be at least 90 percent compliant with these standards to be considered for the Golden Eagle. In addition to numerous standards applicable to individual correctional facilities, ACA standards address other functions such as parole, training and central administration. According to the ACA, the Golden Eagle award represents the highest commitment to excellence in correctional operations and the dedication of the agencies to enhancing public safety and the well-being of incarcerated individuals.

The accreditation process begins with an agency request to have a facility or department audited. ACA staff members tour the facility and present the agency with a preliminary audit report, detailing any areas of noncompliance which must be addressed. The ACA audits more than a thousand professional standards that apply to TDCJ, and during the accreditation process agency staff works closely with the ACA Standards and Accreditation department.

TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston, who accepted the award on behalf of the agency and its employees, said such an achievement would not have been possible without dedicated and talented staff throughout the department.

"You cannot obtain system-wide accreditation through the efforts of a few people, and that is especially true for an organization as large and diverse as TDCJ," said Livingston. "This award reflects the contributions of thousands of employees with varied responsibilities, each critical to the success of the agency. As always, I am grateful for their hard work and public service."

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Linthicum nominated for
ACA leadership role


TDCJ health services director Dr. Lannette Linthicum

Dr. Lannette Linthicum

Dr. Lannette Linthicum, division director of Health Services for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), has been nominated for the presidency of the American Correctional Association (ACA), a professional organization dedicated to the improvement of criminal justice by establishing national standards for correctional management and operations.

Voting takes place this fall and, if elected, Linthicum will be the first health care professional to serve as ACA president. "Prison management requires a tremendous amount of coordination between the treatment side of the house and the security side of the house for operations to flow smoothly and successfully and I think it's time for treatment to assume a national leadership role in corrections," said Linthicum, "But, we have to do it together: security and treatment working hand-in-hand."

The president of the ACA serves a six-year term, with the appointee serving two years as president-elect, two as president and two years as immediate past-president. This arrangement gives the incoming president time to gradually assume the new responsibilities of the position, serve as president, and then provide support for the next president.

Linthicum has been a member of the ACA since 2000, and has served on the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections, first as a health care representative and as Chair of the Commission from 2008 to 2012. She subsequently became involved with the Coalition of Correctional Health Care Authorities, which includes representatives from all 50 states and the five largest jails systems in the country. Linthicum was honored to serve with the Federal Bureau of Prisons medical director as the first co-chairs of the Coalition. In 2011 Linthicum received the E.R. Cass Award, ACA's highest achievement award and in 2013 was elected Treasurer. She is also a member of the ACA Executive Committee.

Arriving at the Huntsville Unit in 1986 as a National Health Service Corps physician, Dr. Linthicum has a twenty-eight-year career as a correctional healthcare professional with TDCJ. She promoted up through the healthcare ranks to chief of professional services, associate division director and to director of Health Services in 1998. She also serves as the TDCJ representative to the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee.

"Dr. Linthicum has served this agency with distinction for many years, and her public service has already been recognized by the association," said TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston. "She would be an outstanding choice for ACA president."

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Stable offender populations
predicted for next five years

Texas budget graphic

In June 2014 the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) released updated projections of offender population growth in both the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems. The LBB's June 2014 projections indicate the number of adult offenders who are incarcerated or on supervision will remain relatively stable during the next five fiscal years.

The number of adult offenders who are incarcerated or are on parole supervision is projected to increase by less than 1 percent through fiscal year 2019, while the number of adult offenders on felony community supervision (probation) is projected to decrease by less than 1 percent. The number of misdemeanor offenders placed on community supervision is expected to decrease by slightly more than 3 percent.

The projections indicate the incarcerated population will remain at or below TDCJ's operational capacity during the next five years.

The LBB will update their projections again prior to the next legislative session which begins in January 2015. The projections are used by the state legislature while making decisions regarding appropriations and criminal justice policy.

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Link to SECC website

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Correctional officer and parole officer pay raises, offender health care funding highlight TDCJ's Legislative Appropriations Request

ACA recognizes TDCJ's full accreditation with Golden Eagle Award

Linthicum nominated for
ACA leadership role

Stable offender populations
predicted for next five years

The State Employee Charitable Campaign begins September 1

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