ALERT - Visitation
YouTube icon image 

Interactive Ethics Training

Lesson 1: TDCJ Ethics Policy

Lesson 1

This lesson is intended to provide the employee with a clear guidance on the do's and don'ts found in the Ethics Policy and conduct that is prohibited by state law.

The Ethics Policy and state law provide only the minimal standardized acceptable conduct in the workplace; just enough to avoid disciplinary action. Behaving ethically means more than the avoidance of disciplinary action. It requires the employee to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in their professional conduct. Some of these aspirational goals can be found in the Code of Ethics.

The Ethics Policy addresses several topics in which we will be discussing in this lesson.

  1. Standards of Conduct
  2. Acceptance of Benefits
  3. Use/Misuse of State Property
  4. Abuse of Office
  5. Revolving Door Prohibitions

Standards of Conduct

An employee shall not:

  1. Accept or solicit any gift, favor, or service that would reasonably tend to influence the employee in the discharge of official duties or that the employee knows or should know is being offered with the intent to influence the employee's official conduct;
    • Question: Should a TDCJ employee who negotiates and signs contracts with outside vendors accept an invitation to a social function or entertainment offered as a result of that business relationship?
    • Below is a summary of the Opinion that was issued for this topic. If you are interested in reviewing the entire Opinion, that option will be available to you at the end of your training session. Please take the time to look over all of the Opinions.
    • In ACE Opinion #8 the Advisory Council on Ethics determined that although there are circumstances where attendance at such an event would not constitute a violation of law, it would be inappropriate for an employee to do so. If unrelated to work, quoting the council "while it is reasonable to suppose a gift or invitation might come as a result of an honest gesture of appreciation…" it is naïve to suppose such commerce is not also offered as an inducement for Texas business. The council recommends all such gifts be refused.
  2. Accept employment or engage in business or professional activity that the employee would reasonably expect to require or induce the employee to disclose confidential information acquired by reason of the official position;
  3. Accept other employment or compensation that would reasonably be expected to impair the employee's independence of judgement in the performance of the employee's official duties;
  4. Make a personal investment that would reasonably be expected to create a substantial conflict between the employee's private interest and the public interest;
  5. Engage in favoritism or cronyism, that is, the granting or withholding of conditions of perquisites of employment based on excessive reliance on personal relationships as a basis for decisions or actions in the work environment.

Return to the list

At this point you do not need to continue in order to take the quiz. You may continue to read further should you care to learn more.

Take Quiz 1

Acceptance of Benefits

§ 36.08 Penal Code--Gift to Public Servant by Person Subject to His Jurisdiction

  1. A public servant in an agency performing regulatory functions or conducting inspections or investigations commits an offense if he solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from a person the public servant knows to be subject to regulation, inspection, or investigation by the public servant or his agency.
  2. A public servant in an agency having custody of prisoners commits an offense if he solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from a person the public servant knows to be in his custody or the custody of his agency.
  3. A public servant in an agency carrying on civil or criminal litigation on behalf of government commits an offense if he solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from a person against whom the public servant knows litigation is pending or contemplated by the public servant or his agency.
  4. A public servant who exercises discretion in connection with contracts, purchases, payments, claims, or other pecuniary transactions of government commits an offense if he solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from a person the public servant knows is interested in or likely to become interested in any contract, purchase, payment, claim, or transaction involving the exercise of his discretion.
  5. A public servant who has judicial or administrative authority, who is employed by or in a tribunal having judicial or administrative authority, or who participates in the enforcement of the tribunal's decision, commits an offense if he solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from a person the public servant knows is interested in or likely to become interested in any matter before the public servant or tribunal.
  6. A member of the legislature, the governor, the lieutenant governor, or a person employed by a member of the legislature, the governor, the lieutenant governor, or an agency of the legislature commits an offense if he solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from any person.
  7. A public servant who is a hearing examiner employed by an agency performing regulatory functions and who conducts hearings in contested cases commits an offense if the public servant solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from any person who is appearing before the agency in a contested case, who is doing business with the agency, or who the public servant knows is interested in any matter before the public servant. The exception provided by Section 36.10(b) does not apply to a benefit under this subsection.
  8. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
  9. A public servant who receives an unsolicited benefit that the public servant is prohibited from accepting under this section may donate the benefit to a governmental entity that has the authority to accept the gift or may donate the benefit to a recognized tax-exempt charitable organization formed for educational, religious, or scientific purposes.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1975, 64th Leg., p. 915, ch. 342, § 11, eff. Sept. 1, 1975; Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3238, ch. 558, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, § 4.04, eff. Jan. 1, 1992; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

Information obtained from Texas Legislature Online §36.08 Penal Code

Return to the list

Use/Misuse of State Property

The Advisory Council on Ethics has issued an Opinion addressing this matter. If you are interested in Opinion #7, you can review it at the end of the training.

§ 2203.004 Government Code--Requirement to Use State Property for State Purposes

State property may be used only for state purposes. A person may not entrust state property to a state officer or employee or to any other person if the property is not to be used for state purposes.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1499, § 1.33, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

§2203.004 Government Code

Return to the list

Abuse of Office

§ 39.01 Penal Code--Definitions

In this chapter:

  1. "Law relating to a public servant's office or employment"means a law that specifically applies to a person acting in the capacity of a public servant and that directly or indirectly:
    1. imposes a duty on the public servant; or
    2. governs the conduct of the public servant.
  2. "Misuse" means to deal with property contrary to:
    1. an agreement under which the public servant holds the property;
    2. a contract of employment or oath of office of a public servant;
    3. a law, including provisions of the General Appropriations Act specifically relating to government property, that prescribes the manner of custody or disposition of the property; or
    4. a limited purpose for which the property is delivered or received.

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

§ 39.02 Abuse of Official Capacity

  1. A public servant commits an offense if, with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he intentionally or knowingly:
    1. violates a law relating to the public servant's office or employment; or
    2. misuses government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant's custody or possession by virtue of the public servant's office or employment.
  2. An offense under Subsection (a)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor.
  3. An offense under Subsection (a)(2) is:
    1. a Class C misdemeanor if the value of the use of the thing misused is less than $100;
    2. a Class B misdemeanor if the value of the use of the thing misused is $100 or more but less than $750 ;
    3. a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the use of the thing misused is $750 or more but less than $2,500;
    4. a state jail felony if the value of the use of the thing misused is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000;
    5. a felony of the third degree if the value of the use of the thing misused is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000;
    6. a felony of the second degree if the value of the use of the thing misused is $150,000 or more but less than $300,000; or
    7. a felony of the first degree if the value of the use of the thing misused is $300,000 or more.
  4. A discount or award given for travel, such as frequent flyer miles, rental car or hotel discounts, or food coupons, are not things of value belonging to the government for purposes of this section due to the administrative difficulty and cost involved in recapturing the discount or award for a governmental entity.
  5. If separate transactions that violate Subsection (a)(2) are conducted pursuant to one scheme or continuing course of conduct, the conduct may be considered as one offense and the value of the use of the things misused in the transactions may be aggregated in determining the classification of the offense.
  6. The value of the use of a thing of value misused under Subsection (a)(2) may not exceed:
    1. the fair market value of the thing at the time of the offense; or
    2. if the fair market value of the thing cannot be ascertained, the cost of replacing the thing within a reasonable time after the offense.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3241, ch. 558, § 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1983. Renumbered from § 39.01 and amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

Amended by: Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 82 (S.B. 828), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1251 (H.B. 1396), Sec. 28, eff. September 1, 2015.

§ 39.03 Official Oppression

  1. A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he:
    1. intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that he knows is unlawful;
    2. intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing his conduct is unlawful; or
    3. intentionally subjects another to sexual harassment.
  2. For purposes of this section, a public servant acts under color of his office or employment if he acts or purports to act in an official capacity or takes advantage of such actual or purported capacity.
  3. In this section, "sexual harassment" means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, submission to which is made a term or condition of a person's exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, either explicitly or implicitly.
  4. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, except that an offense is a felony of the third degree if the public servant acted with the intent to impair the accuracy of data reported to the Texas Education Agency through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) described by Section 42.006, Education Code, under a law requiring that reporting.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 1217, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 16, § 19.01(34), eff. Aug. 26, 1991. Renumbered from § 39.02 by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

Amended by: Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 510 (S.B. 124), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.

§ 39.04 Violations of the Civil Rights of Person in Custody; Improper Sexual Activity With Person in Custody

  1. An official or employee of a correctional facility or juvenile facility, an employee of a correctional facility or juvenile facility, a person other than an employee who works for compensation at a correctional facility or juvenile facility, a volunteer at a correctional facility or juvenile facility, or a peace officer commits an offense if he intentionally:
    1. denies or impedes a person in custody in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, or immunity knowing his conduct is unlawful; or
    2. engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with an individual in custody or, in the case of an individual in the custody of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department or placed in a juvenile facility, employs, authorizes, or induces the individual to engage in sexual conduct or a sexual performance.
  2. An offense under Subsection (a)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor. An offense under Subsection (a)(2) is a state jail felony, except that an offense under Subsection (a)(2) is a felony of the second degree if the offense is committed against:
    1. an individual in the custody of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department or placed in a juvenile facility; or
    2. a juvenile offender detained in or committed to a correctional facility.
  3. This section shall not preclude prosecution for any other offense set out in this code.
  4. The Attorney General of Texas shall have concurrent jurisdiction with law enforcement agencies to investigate violations of this statute involving serious bodily injury or death.
  5. In this section, text of subdivision as amended by Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 216 (H.B. 511), Sec. 1
    1. "Correctional facility" means:
      1. any place described by Section 1.07(a)(14);
      2. any place or facility designated for the detention of a person suspected of violating a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. Section 1101 et seq.); or
      3. a "secure correctional facility" or "secure detention facility" as defined by Section 51.02, Family Code.

    Text of subdivision as amended by Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1136 (S.B. 183), Sec. 2

    1. "Correctional facility" means any place described by Section 1.07(a)(14).
    2. "Custody" means the detention, arrest, or confinement of an adult offender, the detention or of a juvenile offender, or the commitment of a juvenile offender to a correctional facility or juvenile facility.
      1. "Juvenile facility" means a facility for the detention or placement of juveniles under juvenile court jurisdiction and that is operated wholly or partly by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, a juvenile board, or another governmental unit or by a private vendor under a contract with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, juvenile board, or governmental unit.
    3. "Sexual contact," "sexual intercourse," and "deviate sexual intercourse" have the meanings assigned by Section 21.01.
    4. "Sexual conduct" and "performance" have the meanings assigned by Section 43.25.
    5. "Sexual performance" means any performance or part thereof that includes sexual conduct by an individual.
  6. An employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, a juvenile facility, or a local juvenile probation department commits an offense if the employee engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with an individual who the employee knows is under the supervision of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Juvenile Justice Department, or probation department but not in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Juvenile Justice Department, or probation department.
  7. An offense under Subsection (f) is a state jail felony.
  8. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (f) that the actor was the spouse of the individual at the time of the offense.

Added by Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 1383, ch. 618, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3242, ch. 558, § 8, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 18, § 5, eff. April 15, 1987. Renumbered from § 39.021 and amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1406, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 158, §§ 1 to 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1070, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1297, Sec. 69, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.
Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 263 (S.B. 103), Sec. 62, eff. June 8, 2007.
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 263 (S.B. 103), Sec. 63, eff. June 8, 2007.
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 378 (S.B. 563), Sec. 3, eff. June 15, 2007. Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 908 (H.B. 2884), Sec. 43, eff. September 1, 2007.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 87 (S.B. 1969), Sec. 19.003, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 260 (H.B. 549), Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 216 (H.B. 511), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2015.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 734 (H.B. 1549), Sec. 144, eff. September 1, 2015.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 734 (H.B. 1549), Sec. 145, eff. September 1, 2015.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1136 (S.B. 183), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2015.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1136 (S.B. 183), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2015.

§ 39.05 Failure to Report Death of Prisoner

  1. A person commits an offense if the person is required to conduct an investigation and file a report by Article 49.18, Code of Criminal Procedure, and the person fails to investigate the death, fails to file the report as required, or fails to include in a filed report facts known or discovered in the investigation.
  2. A person commits an offense if the person is required by Section 501.055, Government Code, to:
    1. give notice of the death of an inmate and the person fails to give the notice; or
    2. conduct an investigation and file a report and the person:
      1. fails to conduct the investigation or file the report; or
      2. fails to include in the report facts known to the person or discovered by the person in the investigation.
  3. An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 2510, ch. 441, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1983. Renumbered from § 39.022 and amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 321, § 1.104, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 39.06 Misuse of Official Information

  1. A public servant commits an offense if, in reliance on information to which the public servant has access by virtue of the person's office or employment and that has not been made public, the person:
    1. acquires or aids another to acquire a pecuniary interest in any property, transaction, or enterprise that may be affected by the information;
    2. speculates or aids another to speculate on the basis of the information; or
    3. as a public servant, including as a school administrator, coerces another into suppressing or failing to report that information to a law enforcement agency.
  2. A public servant commits an offense if with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he discloses or uses information for a nongovernmental purpose that:
    1. he has access to by means of his office or employment; and
    2. has not been made public.
  3. A person commits an offense if, with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he solicits or receives from a public servant information that:
    1. the public servant has access to by means of his office or employment; and
    2. has not been made public.
  4. In this section, "information that has not been made public" means any information to which the public does not generally have access, and that is prohibited from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code.
  5. Except as provided by Subsection (f), an offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.
  6. An offense under Subsection (a)(3) is a Class C misdemeanor.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3243, ch. 558, § 9, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 30, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., 2nd C.S., ch. 43, § 3, eff. Oct. 20, 1987; Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 927, § 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1989. Renumbered from § 39.03 and amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 5.95(90), eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 14.52, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by: Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1043 (H.B. 1783), Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2015.

Information obtained from Texas Ethics Commission

Link to Ch. 39 Penal Code

Return to the list

Revolving Door Prohibitions

§ 572.054 Government Code--Representation by Former Officer or Employee of Regulatory Agency Restricted; Criminal Offense

  1. A former member of the governing body or a former executive head of a regulatory agency may not make any communication to or appearance before an officer or employee of the agency in which the member or executive head served before the second anniversary of the date the member or executive head ceased to be a member of the governing body or the executive head of the agency if the communication or appearance is made:
    1. with the intent to influence; and
    2. on behalf of any person in connection with any matter on which the person seeks official action.
  2. A former state officer or employee of a regulatory agency who ceases service or employment with that agency on or after January 1, 1992, may not represent any person or receive compensation for services rendered on behalf of any person regarding a particular matter in which the former officer or employee participated during the period of state service or employment, either through personal involvement or because the case or proceeding was a matter within the officer's or employee's official responsibility.
  3. Subsection (b) applies only to:
    1. a state officer of a regulatory agency; or
    2. a state employee of a regulatory agency who is compensated, as of the last date of state employment, at or above the amount prescribed by the General Appropriations Act for step 1, salary group 17, of the position classification salary schedule, including an employee who is exempt from the state's position classification plan.
  4. Subsection (b) does not apply to a rulemaking proceeding that was concluded before the officer's or employee's service or employment ceased.
  5. Other law that restricts the representation of a person before a particular state agency by a former state officer or employee of that agency prevails over this section.
  6. An individual commits an offense if the individual violates this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
  7. In this section, the comptroller and the secretary of state are not excluded from the definition of "regulatory agency."
    1. For purposes of this section, the Department of Information Resources is a regulatory agency.
  8. In this section:
    1. "Participated" means to have taken action as an officer or employee through decision, approval, disapproval, recommendation, giving advice, investigation, or similar action.
    2. "Particular matter" means a specific investigation, application, request for a ruling or determination, rulemaking proceeding, contract, claim, charge, accusation, arrest, or judicial or other proceeding.

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.

Amended by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., 1st C.S., Ch. 4 (S.B. 1), Sec. 23.01, eff. September 28, 2011.

Information obtained from Texas Ethics Commission §572.054 Government Code

§ 572.051 of the Texas Government Code lists the following as suggested guidelines. However, TDCJ has adopted these standards of conduct as the minimum for appropriate workplace conduct. The Standards of Conduct are lined out in the Ethics Policy ED-02.01 and are discussed further in this lesson.

 

picture of books
Visit InfoPac or search TDCJ Policy Manuals to locate this policy.

 

"Behaving ethically means more than the avoidance of disciplinary action. It requires the employee to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in their professional conduct."

Return to the list
Return to the top of the page
Take Quiz 1