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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
July/August 2016
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TDCJ mourns loss of Officer
Mari Johnson


TDCJ executive director Brad Livingston

Correctional Officer Mari Johnson in 2009.

During the early morning hours of Saturday, July 16, Correctional Officer Mari Johnson of the Robertson Unit was found unresponsive in a storage area near the unit kitchen. Despite attempts at lifesaving first aid, the 55-year-old officer was pronounced dead after being transported to the Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene.

Officer Johnson began employment with the agency in August 2009.

"Officer Johnson was a dedicated public servant who chose to dedicate her life to protecting the public, and ultimately she gave her life in the name of public safety," said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier. "She was a hero who died in the line of duty, and all Texans owe her a debt of gratitude for her sacrifice. My deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends and co-workers. Please know that you are in our hearts and prayers."

Funeral services were held for Officer Johnson on Friday, July 22, at First Baptist Church in Mansfield. Nearly 800 mourners were in attendance, including fellow TDCJ officers, law enforcement officers and agency employees. Executive Director Brad Livingston, Bryan Collier (then deputy executive director), Correctional Institutions Division Director Lorie Davis and TBCJ Chairman Dale Wainwright were among many agency officials who attended the service.

Officer Johnson's alleged assailant has been transferred from the Robertson to another TDCJ maximum-security unit. Investigators with TDCJ's Office of the Inspector General continue to gather evidence and are working closely with the Special Prosecution Unit on the criminal investigation.


Photo of TDCJ Honor Guard members standing at attention in church hallway.

Honor Guard members line the hallway as friends and family are seated for Officer Johnson's funeral service.

 


Photo inside sanctuary during Officer Lori Johnson's funeral

Correctional and law enforcement officers from across the state gathered to mourn the loss of Correctional Officer Mari Johnson.

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Bryan Collier named TDCJ
executive director


TDCJ executive director Bryan Collier

Bryan Collier

Bryan Collier, who had served as the agency's deputy executive director for the past nine years, became the new executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice effective August 1. Collier was appointed to the position by the Texas Board of Criminal Justice during their June meeting.

At the age of 20, Bryan Collier began his career with what was then the Texas Department of Corrections by working as a switchboard operator in the basement of the agency's administrative headquarters. He worked the night shift while attending Sam Houston State University during the day. Upon earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology and Corrections in 1986 he became a correctional officer at the Eastham Unit near Lovelady. In 1987 he accepted a position as institutional parole officer at the Darrington Unit near Rosharon.

Collier promoted to unit supervisor in 1993 and one year later was promoted to a program administrator position within the Programs and Services Division, now known as the Rehabilitation Programs Division. In 1995 Collier returned to the Parole Division as a section director for Review and Release Processing. After advancing to deputy director for support services, Collier was promoted to division director in January 2002.

He served in the capacity of Parole Division director for 5 ½ years where he provided leadership to more than 2,500 men and women who performed vital public safety functions, to include supervising offenders in the community, implementing special conditions, responding to violations and assisting in release processing. His outstanding performance was recognized by both the American Correctional Association, who named him one of the Best of the Business, and then Executive Director Brad Livingston, who promoted him to deputy executive director in 2007.

As deputy executive director, Collier was heavily involved in all aspects of TDCJ operations, often leading intra-agency work groups addressing complicated operational challenges that spanned multiple divisions and departments. His reputation as a problem-solver was widely known, leading many senior staff members to seek his guidance on a wide range of issues. He represented the agency in numerous proceedings involving other state and federal agencies, local governments and professional associations, and frequently testified before legislative committees, where his experience, expertise and professionalism were widely recognized by state policymakers.

Collier is a former president of the Texas Correctional Association (TCA) and received the Dr. George J. Beto Hall of Honor award from the TCA in 2013. He is currently the Chair of the American Correctional Association's Adult Corrections Committee.

Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Dale Wainwright, who described Collier as a "proven leader" while announcing his selection, spoke about the first few weeks of Collier's tenure as executive director during the board's August meeting.

"Bryan hit the ground running," said Wainwright. "He was ready from day one. With his leadership, and that of his management team, this agency remains in very capable hands."

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Message from the executive director

By Bryan Collier

TDCJ executive director Bryan Collier
 
Bryan Collier
 

It is my honor to serve as executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and to lead the more than 38,000 dedicated public servants who help make the state safer for all Texans. I sincerely believe there is no better workforce than the men and women employed by TDCJ. The daily challenges of operating a criminal justice agency are greater than most understand, but time and time again, when confronted by extraordinarily difficult circumstances such as the recent flooding in southeast Texas, our employees have risen to the occasion. I could not be prouder of this agency and its employees. I look forward to working with you to maintain past successes, add to our accomplishments and meet every challenge that comes our way.

One challenge facing the TDCJ, all state agencies and the Texas Legislature in the coming months is a fiscal environment that, while still the envy of most states, is less robust than two years ago primarily due to falling oil and gas prices. Consequently, with only a few exceptions, state policymakers have asked agencies to submit an initial budget proposal for the Fiscal Years 2018-19 biennium that shows the impact of a 4 percent budget reduction. Although the 4 percent budget reduction must be reflected in what is known as the "base" request, agencies may seek additional funding through the submission of "exceptional items."

The TDCJ Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) for the Fiscal Years 2018-19 biennium has been prepared in accordance with the instructions given by the governor and the legislature. As you review the LAR, know that it reflects only a starting point for legislative deliberations. On multiple occasions this agency has worked with legislators as they craft a budget consistent with fiscal constraints. Sometimes appropriations have decreased, as they have increased at other times, but the funding necessary to preserve an effective criminal justice system has always been maintained, and mitigating the impact of funding reductions on employees has been both a legislative and administrative priority.

The 85th legislative session convenes on January 10, 2017. As during past legislative sessions, we will use the agency website and the Connections newsletter to keep employees informed of the fiscal and policy decisions impacting the TDCJ and our workforce.

In closing, I want to thank every TDCJ employee for their public service, and extend my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and co-workers of Officer Mari Johnson, who died in the line of duty on July 16. Her death is a grim reminder of the risks agency staff confronts every day. You are true heroes. The people of Texas are fortunate to have you protecting their safety.

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TDCJ budget request emphasizes maintaining current services

clip art image of man taking piece of a budtet pie marked with a dollar sign.

During their August meeting, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice approved the TDCJ Fiscal Years 2018-2019 Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR). Consistent with instructions provided by the governor and the Legislative Budget Board, the "base" appropriations request assumes a 4 percent budget reduction in the next biennium. According to TDCJ Chief Financial Officer Jerry McGinty, the agency's highest priority for additional funding over the base request is the money necessary to maintain current operations.

In addition to the "exceptional item" which seeks to maintain the funding necessary to continue current programs and services, the LAR includes nine other exceptional items seeking additional appropriations. Although exceptional items related to currently scheduled per diem increases, renovation and repair of existing facilities, offender health care and CSCD health insurance seek funding above the base, most of the funds are necessary to maintain current operational levels.

The only requests for program expansion involve probation specialized caseloads, substance abuse treatment, mental health care and reentry. An information technology project to update aging legacy systems still in use is also included.

While acknowledging the funding constraints facing the Legislature, the LAR also asks policymakers to consider providing across-the-board pay raises for state employees.

Chief Financial Officer Jerry McGinty said the TDCJ Legislative Appropriations Request "reflected a commitment to fiscal restraint that is shared by policymakers, the Board of Criminal Justice and agency administration." McGinty explained, "In regards to additional funding, only items of critical importance were included in the LAR. We also identified some areas where the level of current spending can be reduced, and therefore will not seek restoration of the entire 4 percent reduction. In addition, during the legislative session we will work with the Legislature and governor's office to identify additional savings."

A copy of the TDCJ Legislative Appropriations Request, as well as a brief summary of the LAR, is available on the TDCJ website. See the Message from the Executive Director article in this issue of Connections for more information regarding the TDCJ Fiscal Years 2018-2019 Legislative Appropriations Request.

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LBB forecasts stable adult offender population numbers through 2021

In June 2016, the Legislative Budget Board released new offender population growth projections for both the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems. The LBB's projections indicate that the number of adult offenders who are incarcerated or on supervision will remain relatively stable during the next five fiscal years.

clip art image of a 5-year graph showing stable population levels from year to year.

The number of adult offenders who are incarcerated is projected to remain almost unchanged during the next five years, while the number on parole supervision and felony community supervision (probation) is projected to increase slightly (by less than 1 percent and 1.4 percent respectively). During that same period, the number of misdemeanor offenders placed on community supervision is expected to decrease.

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

The LBB will update these population projections in preparation for the next legislative session, which begins in January 2017. The projections are used by the state legislature while making decisions regarding appropriations and criminal justice policy.

The LBB is a permanent joint committee of the Texas Legislature that develops budget and policy recommendations, prepares fiscal analyses for proposed legislation, and conducts evaluations and reviews to improve the efficiency and performance of state and local operations.

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State Employee Charitable Campaign starts September 1

SECC logo banner. 'Think with your heart...GIVE'

For 23 years, TDCJ employees have generously supported State Employee Charitable Campaign charities through fundraising and payroll deduction. Last year's campaign set a new agency record by collecting more than one million dollars in employee donations. This year's campaign begins September 1 and runs through October 31.

The SECC is a legislatively authorized workplace fundraising campaign for state agency and higher education employees in Texas. Donations can be made to a variety of charities, and participating groups range from small local charities to large, well-known national and international nonprofit organizations.

Agency campaign coordinator Carie Beaty commented on the upcoming campaign saying, "TDCJ employees have always supported the SECC so nonprofit charities in Texas and across the nation can continue their important work. We expect agency staff will, once again, prove their generosity during this year’s campaign."

Contributing through payroll deduction helps provide regular support and maximizes the effect of your donation. Contributions made by cash and check are also accepted and, like payroll deductions, can help fund your favorite charities.

Participating charities must meet stringent legal requirements, be recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and register with the Secretary of State. Approved SECC charities are audited every year to ensure they spend no more than 25 percent of contributions on administrative costs.

To learn more about the SECC and which charities it represents, visit the SECC website. A calendar of planned TDCJ fundraisers, as well as instructions on submitting a fundraising event, can be accessed on the agency website.

Participation in the SECC program is completely voluntary.

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Mendoza named TDCJ deputy executive director

New TDCJ deputy executive director Oscar Mendoza
 
Oscar Mendoza
 

Oscar Mendoza was selected to become deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, effective August 1.

Mendoza has more than 37 years of experience with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, beginning as a correctional officer and promoting through each security supervisory post to include serving as warden at five facilities and deputy director for Management Operations within the Correctional Institutions Division. He has also served as director for the Administrative Review and Risk Management Division and most recently served as the director for the Private Facility Contract Monitoring/Oversight Division.

Mendoza has a Bachelor of Science degree and a master's degree in Criminal Justice from Kaplan University in Davenport, Iowa.

TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier commented on Mendoza's selection saying, "Oscar brings strong and proven leadership and a wealth of experience to his new role and will serve our agency well."

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Ginsel named PFCMOD director


New TDCJ private facility contract monitoring/oversight division director Cody Ginsel

Cody Ginsel

Cody Ginsel has been named director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Private Facility Contract Monitoring/Oversight Division, effective August 1. The PFCMOD is responsible for oversight and monitoring of contracts for privately operated secure facilities and community-based facilities, including substance abuse treatment services.

Ginsel has more than 28 years’ experience starting with the Windham School District in 1988 and in 1990 with TDCJ as a correctional officer at the Huntsville Unit. He advanced through the correctional ranks to senior warden, regional director, director of the Correctional Institutions Division's Correctional Training and Staff Development section and, most recently, deputy director of CID Management Operations.

At the August meeting of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier commented on Ginsel's qualifications for this position saying, "His experience and strong operational background, combined with his agency-wide focus will serve the PFCMOD well."

Ginsel received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Lamar University.

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Scott named ARRM director

New TDCJ administrative review and risk management division director Kelvin Scott
 
Kelvin Scott
 

Kelvin Scott has been appointed director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Administrative Review and Risk Management Division, effective August 1. The ARRM supports the agency's mission by monitoring and identifying areas of potential risk or liability, and facilitating action and policy development to maintain safety, accountability and efficiency.

Scott has more than 29 years' experience in criminal justice, beginning his career in 1986 as a correctional officer at the Ellis Unit. He advanced through the security ranks to serve as senior warden at the Glossbrenner, Stevenson and Beto units, as well as senior warden for offender transportation. In 2013, Scott was promoted to director of the Correctional Institutions Division's Region II, where he was responsible for oversight of 13 correctional facilities.

During the August meeting of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier commented on how Scott's criminal justice career has prepared him to take on the role of division director saying, "His experience, strong operational background and attention to detail will serve the ARRM Division well."

Scott received his bachelor's degree in Corrections and Criminology from Sam Houston State University in 1991.

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Bailey named deputy director of CID Management Operations


New TDCJ deputy director of CID management operations Tracy Bailey

Tracy Bailey

Tracy Bailey has been selected as deputy director for the Correctional Institutions Division's Management Operations section, effective August 1. Management Operations is responsible for oversight of Correctional Training and Staff Development, the Plans and Operations department, the Safe Prisons/PREA Management Office, the Fusion Center and the Security Threat Group Management Office.

Bailey has more than 24 years of experience with the agency, most recently serving as director of Correctional Training and Staff Development. She began her career in 1992 as a correctional officer at the Goree Unit and has since held every supervisory position, to include serving as senior warden on several facilities.

CID Director Lorie Davis commented on the appointment saying, "Bailey's positive energy, dedication, and diverse experience will serve the Correctional Institutions Division well as we face future challenges and pursue new opportunities. She is respected by staff at all levels and has demonstrated strong leadership qualities throughout her career."

Bailey has a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Corrections from Sam Houston State University and received a Governor's Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award in 2007.

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Robinson named deputy director of Executive Administration for Parole Division

New TDCJ deputy director of executive administration for parole division Jennifer Robinson
 
Jennifer Robinson
 

Jennifer Robinson has been selected as deputy director of Executive Administration for TDCJ’s Parole Division, effective August 1. The Parole Division supervises offenders released from prison who are serving out their sentences in Texas communities and performs some pre-release investigation and tracking functions.

Robinson has 18 years of experience with TDCJ, beginning her career as a parole officer and subsequently holding several supervisory positions, including assistant director for the Parole Division's Huntsville Placement and Release Unit and, most recently, director of the Review and Release Processing section.

Pamela Thielke, director of TDCJ's Parole Division, commented on Robinson's promotion saying, "Her strong leadership experience and commitment to our mission will serve the agency well as she assumes her new role."

Robinson has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management from Sam Houston State University. She is also a member of the American Probation and Parole Association.

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Guerrero named director of CID Correctional Training and Staff Development


New TDCJ CID correctional training and staff development director Eric Guerrero

Eric Guerrero

Eric Guerrero has been appointed director of the Correctional Institutions Division's Correctional Training and Staff Development section, effective September 1. The CTSD section provides training services for agency employees so they can gain the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary to succeed in the correctional work environment.

Guerrero began his career with the agency in March 1994 as a correctional officer at the McConnell Unit in Beeville and subsequently held every security position, including senior warden positions on five TDCJ units where he helped oversee a wide variety of operations. Since 2013, he has served as director of CID Region VI.

In 2015 Guerrero participated in the University of Texas' Governor’s Executive Development Program and is currently enrolled in UT’s Transformative Leadership Program.

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Werner named CID Region III director

New TDCJ CID Region 3 director John Werner
 
John Werner
 

John Werner was named regional director for TDCJ's Correctional Institutions Division Region III, effective July 1.

Werner began his career with TDCJ in 1992 as a correctional officer at the Ferguson Unit in Midway. He has held every correctional supervisory position within the agency, including assistant warden and warden. Most recently, he held the position of warden at the Hughes Unit in Gatesville.

Correctional Institutions Division Director Lorie Davis congratulated Werner on his promotion saying, "His 24 years of correctional experience, along with his strong leadership qualities will serve the agency well as we face future challenges and pursue new opportunities."

As Region III director, Werner will oversee the operation of 20 units and supervise almost 6,000 employees. Werner replaces Leonard Echessa who was promoted to deputy director of CID Support Operations.

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CID Region I Director Alford announces retirement


Retiring TDCJ CID region 3 director Richard Alford

Richard Alford

Richard Alford, former director of the Correctional Institutions Division's Region I, announced his retirement effective August 31.

Alford began his TDCJ career as a correctional officer in 1986 at the Goree Unit. He promoted through the security ranks, first working as assistant warden at the Polunsky Unit and later as senior warden at the LeBlanc, Clemens, Stiles and Polunsky units. He was named CID Region I director in 2013.

Alford commented on his career and upcoming retirement saying, "It was an honor to serve the state of Texas and to work with the outstanding people of the TDCJ family. I currently don't have any plans after retirement, I am just going to take it easy and enjoy time with my family."

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Chairman's Fitness Challenge 2016: third-quarter results

Dale Wainwright, TBCJ Chairman

 

The third-quarter challenge, which ran from April to May, was a great success. Participating employees collectively accumulated more than 25 million points!

Congratulations to all participating departments and offices, and to all our competitors. Thank you for your support of this fitness initiative.

  FIRST SECOND THIRD
Division 1:
19 or fewer employees
Texas Board of Criminal Justice and Austin Executive Administration Laundry, Food
and Supply
Executive Director’s Office - Huntsville
Division 2:
20 to 39 employees
Internal Audit Division Office of the
General Counsel
Support Operations - CID
Division 3:
40 to 99 employees
Administrative Review and Risk Management Division Rehabilitation Programs Division Health Services Division
Division 4:
100 to 199 employees
Correctional Training Administration - CID Information Technology Division Glossbrenner Unit - CID
Division 5:
200 to 299 employees
Facilities Division Boyd Unit - CID LeBlanc Unit - CID
Division 6:
300 plus employees
McConnell Unit - CID Manufacturing and Logistics Jester IV Unit
Division 7: Windham School District (WSD) WSD North
Texas Region
WSD West
Texas Region
WSD South
Texas Region

 

Gold and Platinum Challenges

During the third quarter, Gold Challenge participants had to earn 1,000 points during each week of the challenge, and Platinum Challenge participants were required to earn at least 2,500 points per week. George Macias from the Robertson Unit earned the most points among the agency’s 146 Platinum Challengers, and David Brunet from Correctional Training Administration was the point leader among 344 Gold Challenge participants.

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Agency News

 

 

 

 

 

star bulletBoard Bulletin

star bulletAgency News

TDCJ mourns loss of Officer Mari Johnson

Bryan Collier named TDCJ executive director

Message from the executive director

TDCJ budget request emphasizes maintaining
current services

LBB forecasts stable adult offender population numbers through 2021

State Employee Charitable Campaign starts September 1

Mendoza named TDCJ deputy executive director

Ginsel named PFCMOD director

Scott named ARRM director

Bailey named deputy director of CID Management Operations

Robinson named deputy director of Executive Administration for Parole Division

Guerrero named director of CID Correctional Training and Staff Development

Werner named CID Region III director

CID Region I Director Alford announces retirement

Chairman's Fitness Challenge 2016: third-quarter results

star bulletPolicies and Benefits

star bullet Saluting Employees