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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Mar/April 2013

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Legislative update for TDCJ employees from the executive director

By Brad Livingston


Budget



The General Appropriations Bill (SB 1 by Williams) was passed out of the Finance Committee on March 13 and approved by the full Senate on March 20. Senate Bill 1 was referred to the House Appropriations Committee, where the committee members had already spent weeks preparing their version of the state’s budget for the next two years. The House’s budget proposal was approved by the committee and subsequently approved by the House floor on April 4.

Group Benefit Plan study cover graphic As always, the budgets approved by both the House and Senate differ in ways that must be resolved by a conference committee consisting of members from both bodies. Reconciling the differences will be one of the most important tasks facing the Legislature during the remainder of the session, and is typically not completed until late in May.

Although all information is preliminary and subject to change, currently the fiscal outlook for the agency is very positive, particularly when compared to the situation two years ago. A more comprehensive summary of how the proposed House and Senate budgets would impact the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is available on the agency website, but I want to briefly highlight a few developments that should be of particular interest to TDCJ employees.

One other issue of note is related to recent declines in the offender population. For various reasons, to include the Legislature’s investment in treatment and diversion programs, the inmate population has decreased and stabilized. Consequently, state policymakers are considering whether to close one or more correctional facilities. Discussions regarding unit closures have focused on several privately-operated facilities in north Texas.

There is no question the fiscal situation for the state and the agency is markedly improved from two years ago, however, I cannot emphasize enough that the information available today is preliminary. Final decisions regarding appropriations for fiscal years 2014 – 15 will be made no earlier than May 2013. As the final decisions are made, we will continue to keep employees informed through the agency’s website and the Connections newsletter.

Sunset

Senate Bill 213 by Whitmire and House Bill 2289 by Price contain the Sunset Commission’s recommendations for the Department of Criminal Justice, Board of Pardons and Paroles, Windham School District and the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee. As filed, both bills would extend the life of the agency by another eight years as well as enact other recommendations from the Sunset Advisory Commission.

Senate Bill 213 was approved by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on March 19. The bill was amended several times in committee, but none of the changes impacted TDCJ. The bill was considered by the full Senate on April 2, and was approved by a unanimous vote after the adoption of several amendments related to Correctional Managed Health Care.

Senate Bill 213 has now been sent to the House of Representatives where, subsequent to its consideration by the Corrections Committee, the bill will be heard on the House floor. We will continue to keep employees apprised of the status of the TDCJ Sunset legislation.

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National Crime Victims' Rights Week: April 21-27

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On April 22, crime victims, their advocates, representatives of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Victim Services Division and other victim services organizations throughout the state will gather together to mark the beginning of the 2013 National Crime Victims' Rights Week with a memorial tree planting at the state capitol to celebrate the life and honor the memory of Suzanne McDaniel, a pioneer in crime victims' rights. In 1976, when the needs of crime victims and their families were often overlooked by the criminal justice system, McDaniel founded Texas' first crime victims' support program in the Harris County District Attorney's office.

This year's theme, New Challenges. New Solutions. celebrates the progress activists like McDaniel have made in the fight for crime victim's rights. For most of our nation's history, crime victims had few rights and little access to compensation or services to help rebuild and restore their lives. They were often excluded from courtrooms and denied the opportunity to speak at sentencing or during the parole process. Today, after decades of hard work by crime victim advocates, Texas, along with other states, have enacted a variety of crime victims' rights laws and established crime victim compensation funds.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week reminds us that many challenges remain. Crime victims must always be informed regarding their rights and these rights should always be respected and enforced.

"New Challenges. New Solutions. captures our mission in the 21st century," said Joye E. Frost, acting director for the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. "We must craft a new vision for reaching all victims of crime. We can achieve this only by substantially broadening our thinking, strategically planning our future, and creatively expanding our resources and tools."

National Crime Victims' Rights Week takes place April 21–27 throughout the nation. TDCJ Victim Services Division Director Angie McCown, a featured speaker at the Suzanne McDaniel Memorial Tree Planting, encourages participation in the week's events, saying, "National Crime Victims' Rights Week provides an opportunity to revisit our history, celebrate our achievements, and advance the progress of victims' rights. As we recommit ourselves to our mission of assisting crime victims' participation in the criminal justice system, we look forward to observing 2013 National Crime Victims' Rights Week."

For more information about the 2013 National Crime Victims' Rights Week and to learn how you can help crime victims in your own community, contact TDCJ Victim Services Division at 800-848-4284, or visit the TDCJ website.

The year’s Crime Victims’ Rights Week events include:


Brazos County

7th Annual Every Victim, Every Time Conference
April 23 - 24
A&M University Church of Christ, College Station, TX

This conference is designed for professionals who work with crime victims. For more information, visit http://evetbv.org/index.html


Collin County

Victims of Crime Ceremony and Luncheon
April 22, 11:30 a.m.
Myers Park and Events Center, 7117 County Road 166, McKinney, TX 75071

For more information, contact Chris Jenkins at 972-548-4357. RSVP by April 18 to crimevictimslunch@collincountytx.gov


Dallas County

Breakfast Ceremony in Celebration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
April 25, 9:30 a.m.
Dallas First Assembly of God, 11000 E. Northwest Highway, Dallas, TX 75231

For more information contact Sumer Wassef by phone at 214-393-2492 or by email at sumer.wassef@dps.texas.gov or Lorelei Gregory by phone at 214-393-2492 or by email at lorelei@victims-outreach.org. RSVP by April 19.


El Paso County

Crime Victim Information Booths
April 27, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
El Paso Public Library, 501 N. Oregon

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Annual Memorial Service
April 28, 8 a.m.
Crime Victims’ Memorial Reading Garden Pavilion, 610 Yarbrough Drive

The memorial service will honor those in the El Paso community who have lost their lives to violent crime. A tolling bell will be followed by a reading of the names engraved on the Crime Victims’ Memorial. For more information, contact Gladys Carmona at 915-538-2237.


Lubbock County

April 25, 2 p.m.
LakeRidge United Methodist Church, 4701 82nd Street, Lubbock, TX 79424

For more information, contact Dawn Bevan at 806-793-6233.


Midland County

New Challenges, New Solutions Presentation
April 25, 2 p.m.
Midland County Courthouse, 500 North Loraine, Auxiliary Courtroom, Midland, TX 79701

A Stopping the Crime Cycle training session will be held one hour before the presentation. For more information, contact Tom Cooper at 432-498-2168.


Travis County

Suzanne McDaniel Memorial Tree Planting
April 22, Noon - 1 p.m.
Texas State Capitol Grounds (South lawn, east of the main sidewalk)

A tree will be planted to celebrate the life and honor the memory of Suzanne McDaniel, a pioneer in crime victims’ rights, who ushered in a new era of support and assistance for victims of crime across Texas and the nation.

Heaven’s Rain*
April 22, 7 - 9:30 p.m.
University of Texas, Utopia Theatre, 1925 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, TX 78712

Join Brooks Douglass for a screening of Heaven’s Rain, based on the true story of crime survivors, Brooks and Leslie Douglass. Question and answer with Brooks to follow. *NOTE: Heaven’s Rain includes brief flashbacks to the crime scene, which are handled discreetly and respectfully, but are not appropriate for children.

Annual Crime Victims’ Rights Ceremony
April 23, 7 - 8:30 p.m.
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, 4700 Grover Ave., Austin, TX 78756

Austin’s signature Crime Victims’ Rights Week event, the evening will include three survivor-speakers and tributes to victims of crime. This event will be available for viewing via live video stream.

For more information about these Austin-area events, or to view the live stream video of the Victims’ Rights ceremony, visit crimevictimsrights.eventbrite.com.


Walker County

Breakfast Honoring Victims of Crime, Service Providers and First Responders
April 25, 9 a.m.
Huntsville Public Library Community Room, 1219 13th Street, Huntsville, TX 77341

For more information, contact Lisa Anderson at 936-291-5480 or landerson@huntsvilletx.gov. Please RSVP by April 15.

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Chairman's Fitness Challenge 2013: second-quarter results

The second quarter of the fiscal year 2013 Chairman's Fitness Challenge was a tremendous success. During the four week period, participating employees collectively accumulated more than 9 million points bringing the total points earned thus far to more than 24 million.

Congratulations to all our participants. Below are the first, second and third place winners within each division.

  FIRST SECOND THIRD
Division 1:
19 or fewer employees
Internal Audit Division Texas Board of Criminal Justice and Austin Executive Administration Management Operations -
Correctional Institutions Division (CID)
Division 2:
20 to 39 employees
Office of the General Counsel

Houston V Office-Parole Division

Reentry and Integration Division
Division 3:
40 to 99 employees
Houston VII Office -
Parole Division
Administrative Review and Risk Management Division Board of Pardons and Paroles
Division 4:
100 to 199 employees
Sayle Unit-CID Havins Unit-CID Information Technology Division
Division 5:
200 to 299 employees
Lynaugh Unit-CID Moore Unit-CID LeBlanc Unit-CID
Division 6:
300 plus employees
Manufacturing and Logistics Division Huntsville Unit-CID Jester IV Unit-CID
Division 7: Windham School District (WSD) WSD West Texas Region WSD North Texas Region WSD Administration

 

Special Platinum Challenge

During the second quarter, 82 individuals successfully completed the Special Platinum Challenge by achieving 2,500 points for each week of the quarter. These individuals collectively accumulated more than 1.2 million points.

Listed below are the quarter’s successful Silver Platinum Challengers. Congratulations to you all! Keep up the outstanding work!

Department/Unit of Assignment Name

Administrative Review and Risk Management Division

Heydn, Debbie
McGilbra, Cassandra
Mendoza, Oscar
Standley, Brandon

Correctional Institutions Division (CID) - Management Operations

Jackson, Monica

CID - Region III Director's Office

Paukner, Dave

Clemens Unit

Clark, Brian
Mosser, Bryan
Rodriguez, Jose
Sustaite, Maria

Cole State Jail

Bangs, Vicki
Walker, Carolyn

Crain Unit

Dobbins, John

Daniel Unit

Steck, Russel

Dominguez State Jail

Carranza, Mario

Gist State Jail

Childs, Jeffery
Herbert, Edward
Jones, David
Whittington, Tosh

Goree Unit

Shair, Jacquelyn

Gurney Unit

Newman, Nikki

Havins Unit

Garman, Sonny
Knight, John
Lancaster, Cindy
McCarty, Melissa

Hughes Unit

Holland, Jonathan
Kubiak, Dawn
Lackey, Sherri

Huntsville Unit

Driver, Constance
Hendry, Angela
Kizzie, Roberta
Ponder, Robert
Proctor, Michael

LeBlanc Unit

Dionne, Thad
James, Alphonso
Miller, Brice
Wolfe-Mahfood, Valerie

Lopez Unit

Cavazos, Hector
Rodriguez, Carlos

Lychner/Kegans Units

Fontenot, Lillie

Moore Unit

Ashworth, Kevin
Latham, Harold
Ramsey, Amanda
Reaves, Amy
Rhode, Duane
Roberts, Tracey
Walley, Eddy

Polunsky Unit

Hendry, Shari
Richie, Penny

Ramsey Unit

Broomfield, Keith

Stiles Unit

Knod, Lance

Telford Unit

Sartin, Derek
Siebe, Matthew

Torres/Ney Units

Ross, Pernell
Trejo, Alfredo

Travis Unit

Black, Nancy
Ritz, Robert

Human Resources Division Headquarters

Drew, David

Internal Audit

Walker, Frederick

Manufacturing and Logistics Division

Belew, Tammie
Pemberton, Kathy
Rasbeary, Ricky
Robinson, Jesse
Sevedge, David
Trejo, Roland
Warren, Kelly
Whiddon, Monica

Office of General Counsel (OGC)

Warren, Thomas

Office of Inspector General (OIG)

Castillo, Ramon
Smith, Jason

Parole Central Headquarters

Wolf, Melanie

Reentry and Integration Division

Jackson, Rosalie

State Counsel for Offenders

Depp, Kathy

Windham - Administration

Martinez, Jason
Trevino, Farrah
Villareal, Alfonso

Windham - North Texas Region

Martin, Sherrie

Windham - West Texas Region

Beaty, Tambra
Foose, Richard
Moore, Erika
Prebish, Kenneth
Rister, Viva

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Take 25 Child Safety campaign: May 25 is National Missing Children’s Day

Group Benefit Plan study cover graphic

For 30 years May 25 has marked National Missing Children’s Day, an annual reminder that we all share responsibility for protecting children. In the continuing effort to prevent the abduction and sexual exploitation of children, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has established the Take 25 campaign to encourage parents, guardians, law enforcement and other trusted adults to spend 25 minutes to talk with children about safety.

Every day, law enforcement officials across the nation receive more than 2,000 reports of missing children. In the United States alone, hundreds of thousands of children go missing each year, and nearly 50,000 of these children are lost from Texas homes. Take 25 is part of a nationwide effort to prevent child abduction by providing and sharing important child-safety tips, including conversation starters to help introduce the subject to young minds, and planning guides to help communities host local Safety Days and Child ID events.

Oliver Bell, chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, spoke in support of this year’s campaign, saying, "TDCJ and the Board of Criminal Justice support the Take 25 child-safety campaign. We must all take action to protect the most vulnerable among us, and that begins by joining the fight against child abduction and exploitation. I urge everyone to take 25 minutes to discuss safety with your children, your families, and your friends and colleagues."

If you’d like to join in the ongoing fight against child abduction and exploitation, visit the Take 25 website, NCMEC’s Texas Regional website, or call 512-465-2156.

 

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Legislative update for TDCJ employees from the executive director

National Crime Victims' Rights Week: April 21-27

Chairman's Fitness Challenge 2013: second-quarter results

Take 25 Child Safety campaign: May 25 is National Missing Children's Day

 

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