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In this issue

TDCJ's volunteer-facilitated canine-assistance programs

Offender handing treat to guide dog during training exercise.TDCJ relies on volunteers to help deliver many important rehabilitation services to the incarcerated population, but the agency’s volunteer-supported "dog programs" stand apart for their innovative nature, long track record of success and the assistance they provide to disabled veterans and the visually impaired.

Executive director's update

TDCJ executive director Bryan CollierAs this issue of Connections is being finalized, TDCJ is responding to the destruction and flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. While there have been varying degrees of physical damage to buildings, the vital public safety functions of this agency have continued uninterrupted despite the devastation caused by Harvey.

Hurricane Harvey strikes Texas Gulf Coast

Satellite image of Hurricane Harvey approaching the Texas coast.On August 25, Texas faced an unprecedented and catastrophic storm as Hurricane Harvey quickly gained strength and hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane, the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Charley in 2004. The storm is estimated to have had an impact on more than 40 percent of the state’s population, including many TDCJ employees and their families.

Declining offender population prompts unit closures, repurposing

Photo of front door and walkway leading to the Rudd Unit which was recently closed.Diversion and treatment programs funded by the legislature and implemented by TDCJ staff have led to a steady decline in the number of offenders incarcerated by the agency. Decreased demand for secure housing and projected stability in offender population allowed the 85th Texas Legislature to reduce state spending through the closure of excess correctional capacity at the Correctional Institutions Division’s Ware Transfer Facility and three privately operated facilities.

State Employee Charitable Campaign continues through
end of October

SECC logo, image of pair of hands holding up people. SECC underneath.For more than 20 years TDCJ employees have generously supported the State Employee Charitable Campaign and its charities. The 2017 SECC began September 1 and continues through the end of October.

Victim Services Division hosts TVAT Academy in October

TDCJ’s Victim Services Division will host the second Texas Victim Assistance Training Academy in October. This three-and-a-half day interactive classroom training event is designed for new victim services professionals and volunteers who routinely work with victims of crime but have less than three years’ experience in the field.

Texas Victim Assistance Training logo. 'TVAT Academy'.

Phone phishing attempt prompts nationwide fraud warning

Image of smart phone screen recieving call that reads 'Scam Likely' as the caller ID.In July, private citizens began calling agency officials to confirm that an automated phone call they had received actually came from the agency’s Office of the Inspector General, as claimed in the prerecorded message. Those who had called the provided number were asked to leave a recorded message containing personal, confidential information. Fortunately, the majority of those called did not provide information, but instead chose to validate the call by contacting TDCJ.

We Hire Vets

Photo of 3 TDCJ correctional officers in uniform. 2017 'We Hire Vets' logo on side of photo with state of Texas image.

Update: HealthSelect transition to BlueCross/BlueShield

Blue Cross Blue Shield logo.On September 1, BlueCross and BlueShield of Texas took over as third-party administrator for the Employees Retirement System of Texas’ HealthSelect insurance. Plan participants should review these tips to avoid problems during the transition.

Information Security: how to recognize, report malicious email

Clipart image of a @ symbol dangling from a fish hook.Malicious emails continue to be the most popular method for launching a phishing or malware attack against computer users. According to a 2017 security report, one in every 131 emails sent in 2016 contained malware. Here are a few tips on how to avoid trouble by recognizing and reporting malicious email.

Governor Abbott issues proclamation for PPPS Week

Image of Texas Governor Greg Abbott's signature on official delcaration regarding pretrial, probation and parole supervision week. During July’s Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week, Governor Greg Abbott joined criminal justice groups and others throughout the state to honor the dedicated service and professional commitment of Texas’ pretrial, probation and parole officers who work to rehabilitate offenders, reduce recidivism and provide for public safety.

Garza West Sergeant Maria Cantu named TGIA CO of Year

TDCJ correctional officer Sergeant Maria CantuDuring a June conference held in San Antonio, Garza West Sergeant Maria Cantu accepted the 2017 Texas Gang Investigators Association Correctional Officer of the Year award. Cantu has 15 years of service with TDCJ and fulfills a critical role as the Security Threat Group sergeant at one of the agency’s largest intake facilities.

 

July/August 2017

Volume 24 Issue 6

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