Executive Administrative Services
Community Work Projects
Through the community work projects program the TDCJ provides offender labor to eligible non-profit organizations and governmental agencies that offer services enhancing social welfare and general well-being of the community. Projects are planned to match the needs of the community with the skills and services at each TDCJ facility. Eligible TDCJ offenders have built playgrounds, maintained railroads and state-operated cemeteries, constructed low-income housing, produced crops for local food banks, trained dogs for the blind and assisted with disaster relief efforts.
During FY 2010, offenders provided assistance with 2,681 projects, giving more than 880,000 hours of labor to community work projects. The largest beneficiary of the community work program by project and hours are local communities. Across the state offenders help maintain city parks and cemeteries as well as city buildings and surrounding property. They provide mow grass, clear trees and brush, and repair sprinkler systems and potholes. They also provide cities with basic facility maintenance such as painting and repairing floors, doors, and walls. Additionally, they assist local non-profit projects with set-up and clean-up for county fairs and community events.
Another partner with the TDCJ in the offender community work program is the Texas Food Bank’s Second Harvest Program. Offenders assist in receiving, sorting, cleaning, and distributing donated goods. During Fiscal Year 2010, offenders handled over 159 million pounds of food with more than half of that amount being distributed among families in need. TDCJ’s partnership with food banks across the state varies based on the local community, local need, and unit proximity. For instance, in nine of the major food banks in Texas, offenders assist in product recovery by sorting donated food for distribution. The TDCJ also participates in the Texas Fresh Approach and the Unit Food Bank Garden Program. Offenders at a number of units grow fresh fruits and vegetables and provide them to local area food banks. In addition to having the opportunity to give back to the communities, offenders learn marketable skills through community service projects. For instance in collaboration with the Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio food banks offenders can participate in the culinary training program to help prepare meals benefiting the children of impoverished families. Offenders at the Dominguez State Jail can participate in the Windham School District vocational course on plant processing and warehouse equipment operations. In conjunction, they work for the San Antonio Food Bank receiving, sorting, packaging, and inventorying food and dry good items.
Community work projects are a valuable tool in serving local communities while enhancing the rehabilitative efforts of the TDCJ. The TDCJ is proud to be a good neighbor by supporting projects that provide a better environment for Texas citizens.
TDCJ Administrative Directive 07.11, “Use of Offender Labor for Community and Public Work Projects” (pdf) governs our community work project participation and provides the contract agreement procedures.