Executive Director Collier,
I ask that you propose closing prisons in your upcoming budget. This will save taxpayers millions and will help address intractable staffing shortages that continue to make Texas prisons less safe for guards, inmates and surrounding communities.
I recently read that turnover in the prison system reached 28% last year. Clearly, well trained and experienced staff are necessary to keep a facility safe. You should examine your worst staffed prisons and propose closing them.
If there are facilities in need of significant repairs, these should also be considered for closure.
Texas' inmate population will continue to decline as crime continues its downward trend and counties implement new laws. Last session, the legislature passed a bill to treat "forged" checks and "hot" checks in the same system, with an emphasis on restitution to the victim. That minor change alone will reduce the number of inmates in the next biennium.
Now, while you are building your new strategic plan and your new budget, I ask that you put Texas on a path to a smaller, safer prison system that is "right-sized" to a more peaceful time. Most agencies don't want to be smaller, but I believe that you are the exception. You know that heading one of the world's largest prison systems is not something to brag about. We can rejoice at the notion that taxpayer dollars can now be spent in more productive ways, or even given back to taxpayers!
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