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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
November/December 2015
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TDCJ installs additional comprehensive video surveillance systems

Installation of comprehensive video surveillance systems at three TDCJ correctional facilities is nearing completion, further enhancing security as well as staff, visitor and offender safety.

The 81st through 83rd Texas Legislatures allocated a total of $30 million in funding over the last five years for the installation of comprehensive video systems on ten prison units. In addition to the three units where installation is nearing completion, five correctional facilities already have fully functional systems, and installation is underway at two additional units.


TDCJ Surveillance System Coordinator Albert Courtney, right, discusses installation procedures for the comprehensive video surveillance system with Project Manager Lex Carrell at the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony.

TDCJ Surveillance System Coordinator Albert Courtney, right, discusses installation procedures for the comprehensive video surveillance system with Project Manager Lex Carrell at the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony.

Many TDCJ facilities have security cameras and more limited video surveillance systems, but enhanced technology allows comprehensive video surveillance to cover nearly the entire unit, including the perimeter, housing areas, dining halls, unit chapels and other places where offenders congregate. Some mounted cameras pan, tilt and zoom to better observe a subject. Correctional Institutions Division administrators can view surveillance footage from their office or other viewing stations. CID's Security Operations Department provides technical and operational support, and the Video Surveillance and Video Equipment/Production Section helps maintain existing surveillance systems, while providing technical evaluations for augmentation and improvement.

Since their installation, the new video systems have revealed attempts to introduce contraband into a prison facility, including narcotics being passed in a bag of chips and contraband hidden in a vendor's vehicle, help resolve allegations of offender or staff misbehavior, and distinguish instigators, assailants, victims and bystanders during disturbances and altercations. Video footage has also helped identify opportunities to improve existing security procedures. Although their value in deterring criminal acts and serious policy violations cannot be documented, the comprehensive video surveillance systems make it more likely individuals will be caught, which helps deter would-be violators.


Coffield Unit Warden John Rupert, left, discusses camera operations with Unit Surveillance Sergeant Gary Guthrie. CID administrators are able to view movement throughout the unit using mounted video monitors.

Coffield Unit Warden John Rupert, left, discusses camera operations with Unit Surveillance Sergeant Gary Guthrie. CID administrators are able to view movement throughout the unit using mounted video monitors.

Commenting on the comprehensive video systems' effect on security, Deputy Director of Prisons and Jail Operations Robert Eason explained, "Comprehensive video surveillance is an important tool which allows us to monitor and record offender activities, makes it harder to defeat unit security measures and allows us to monitor staff to help ensure their safety. We need to take advantage of every opportunity to reduce contraband, and surveillance discourages most people from even attempting to introduce it into a secure facility."

Although comprehensive video surveillance is an effective management tool, no technology provides an effective substitute for the presence of correctional staff directly supervising offenders. "It is dedicated and vigilant staff, assisted by appropriate technology, that make TDCJ's correctional facilities safe and secure," Eason added, "and without safety and security none of our success in rehabilitation and reducing recidivism would be possible."

Further acquisition and installation of comprehensive video surveillance systems is in the planning stages. Earlier this year the 84th Legislature appropriated funds that will enable the agency to add surveillance systems to three additional units.

 

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CJAD improves strategic planning
for CSCDs

image of TDCJ seal

TDCJ’s Community Justice Assistance Division is currently implementing a new strategic planning process with improved community corrections data management, which will allow community supervision and corrections departments to better utilize their limited resources to support their offender population.

For two years, a multidisciplinary group of CJAD and CSCD staff worked to implement strategic planning, first with an initial pilot group consisting of Bexar, Caldwell, Hidalgo, Jasper and Taylor County CSCDs, then expanding to include Bowie, Brazoria, Dallas, Jefferson, Lubbock, Matagorda, Milam and Williamson County CSCDs. This pilot group worked with CJAD to identify the components needed to create a strategic plan, and to develop an effective training curriculum for the CSCD staff who will write these plans. CJAD and the pilot group also incorporated current budget information, offender data, and programs and services information as strategic plan components.

In 2015 the 84th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1930, eliminating community justice planning requirements and replacing them with the new strategic planning process. The new process establishes a baseline to help CSCDs plan up to four years in advance and includes improved internal auditing and fiscal monitoring so CSCDs can better track expenditures.

The recently implemented Texas Risk Assessment System helps connect offenders with programs and services that address the individual’s criminogenic needs and reduce their risk to reoffend. Current community justice plans do not make use of this information, but CJAD has been working with CSCDs to include TRAS information in the planning process in order to improve the data submitted to the Community Supervision Tracking System.

CJAD plans to introduce the new strategic planning process to the remaining CSCDs throughout the state by the end of January. CSCDs are required to submit their first strategic plan by March 1.

 

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CJAD publishes 2015 Community Supervision Diversion Funds report

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In 2005, TDCJ's Community Justice Assistance Division published the first Report to the Governor and Legislative Budget Board on the Monitoring of Community Supervision Diversion Funds, detailing how CJAD planned to allocate, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of new diversion program funding for community supervision and corrections departments. Since then, the monitoring report has been published annually, with the eleventh and latest edition released in December 2015.

The 2015 monitoring report shows continued progress toward the goals of reducing probation officer caseloads and offender felony revocations to prison. Since diversion funding for CSCDs increased in 2005, there has been a 6.5 percent decrease in the felony direct and indirect population and an 8.7 percent reduction in felony technical revocations. During that same time period, probation officer caseloads decreased by 12.3 percent.

The 2005 monitoring report identified three ways to achieve the goal of reducing felony revocations to prison, and subsequent reports compare CSCD data based on seven evaluation criteria:

Until 2012, monitoring reports showed which CSCDs received additional diversion program funding, including those that were eligible but declined. Subsequent reports do not include this comparison, as additional diversion funds were incorporated into overall CSCD funding before distribution. CJAD now uses CSCD-submitted data from the Community Supervision Tracking System to prepare the monitoring report which, beginning in 2016, will include data reported for the recently implemented Texas Risk Assessment System.

Along with the evaluation criteria, the 2015 report includes an analysis of revocations in the 10 most populous CSCDs and a detailed felony cohort study which compares samples of offenders by offense type for a two-year period after original placement on community supervision. Prior issues of the report include detailed information regarding offender risk/needs assessment, community supervision terminations, and gender comparisons.

All editions of the monitoring report are available on the TDCJ website.

 

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W-2, 1095 tax forms scheduled
for distribution

image of 1040 tax form with pencil

Tax preparation time is here and, in addition to the standard W-2 wage and salary information form used to report income and withholdings, taxpayers will use 1095 forms to report that they and their tax dependents had medical insurance coverage during the previous year or to claim the premium tax credit.

 

Form W-2

Form W-2 shows your wage and salary information, along with the amount of tax withheld from your paycheck. Your W-2 is sent by the agency's Payroll Processing Department to unit or departmental human resources offices for distribution by January 31. Inactive employees who are on leave without pay or separated as of the printing date will receive their 2015 forms by mail at their home address.

To make sure you are withholding the correct amount, keep your Form W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate up to date; you may submit Form W-4 any time you need to change your withholding tax deduction. The form should be filled out in its entirety and submitted either to your unit or department human resources office, or directly to the Payroll Processing Department. Remember, withholding too little means writing a check at the end of the year, while withholding too much means temporarily losing access to your money.

 

Form 1095-B

The Affordable Care Act requires most United States citizens to have medical insurance; those who don't have a minimal level of coverage could receive a fine. TDCJ employees covered through the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program can use Form 1095-B to verify that they and any covered dependents had medical insurance during 2015 and avoid paying the fine.

Every medical coverage provider that covered you and any of your dependents for at least one day in 2015 is required to send you a Form 1095-B. If you had medical coverage through another employer's carrier, you will receive a separate Form 1095-B from each one.

State of Texas employees and retirees with medical coverage through the GBP in 2015 will receive their 1095-B directly from United HealthCare for HealthSelect of Texas, Community First Health Plans, KelseyCare by Community Health Choice, or the Scott & White Health Plan. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will mail Form 1095-B to those enrolled in Medicare, including those enrolled in HealthSelect Medicare Advantage or KelseyCare Advantage. If you had GBP medical coverage in 2015 and don’t have your 1095-B by the end of February, or if you lose it, contact your medical insurance provider to request another copy. TRICARE will send a Form 1095-B directly to its members.

When you receive your 1095-B form, make sure your name, Social Security number, the names and Social Security numbers of covered dependents, and your mailing address are correct. Active employees should contact their benefits coordinator to correct any information; former employees and retirees can make corrections by contacting the ERS directly. If you have to make corrections on the form, contact your medical coverage provider to find out if you need an updated 1095-B.

 

Form 1095-C

TDCJ will send agency employees a Form 1095-C, which includes information about the health insurance coverage offered to you. Form 1095-C can only be used by those who purchased coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, so most TDCJ employees will not use the form. However, if you purchased health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and wish to claim the premium tax credit, this information will assist you in determining whether you are eligible. Contact your benefits coordinator if you have questions regarding form 1095-C.

As with all tax records, keep your 1095 forms on file as supporting documentation.

 

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TDCJ employees set record with more than $1 million in 2015 SECC donations

The 2015 State Employee Charitable Campaign results are in, and TDCJ employees have set a new record for charitable fundraising within the agency. Employee donation totals within TDCJ have been consistently high throughout the 22-year history of the SECC, but donations collected during the 2015 campaign have surpassed all previous years’ totals. The agency's SECC Coordinator Carie Beaty announced the totals and commended TDCJ participants, saying, "The generosity and relentless hard work of our employees enabled the agency to raise over one million dollars for the first time in campaign history."

A total of $1,017,493 in TDCJ employee donations was collected during 2015, surpassing last year's total by more than seventy-five thousand dollars. As in past years, a majority of those who donated chose to do so through payroll deductions, although cash donation totals were also very high.

Executive Director Brad Livingston also commented on the successful 2015 campaign, saying, "While the employees of TDCJ do not seek recognition for their generosity, they are very much deserving of it. They are both public servants and public spirited. They represent the agency and the state with distinction and it is an honor to be associated with them."

secc texas logo with image of little girl with flowers. 'Think with your heart...GIVE'

 

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Chairman's Fitness Challenge 2016: first-quarter results

Dale Wainwright, TBCJ Chairman

 

The first-quarter challenge, which ran from October to November, was a great success. Participating employees collectively accumulated 19,428,473 points. These are terrific results!

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

  FIRST SECOND THIRD
Division 1:
19 or fewer employees
Board of Criminal Justice and Austin Executive Administration Executive Director’s Office - Huntsville Snyder Institutional Parole Office
Division 2:
20 to 39 employees
Parole Division Region III Office of the
General Counsel
Internal Audit Division
Division 3:
40 to 99 employees
Administrative Review and Risk Management State Counsel for Offenders Health Services Division
Division 4:
100 to 199 employees
Information Technology Division Correctional Training Administration Glossbrenner Unit - CID
Division 5:
200 to 299 employees
Cole State Jail - CID Facilities Division Boyd Unit - CID
Division 6:
300 plus employees
Manufacturing and Logistics Division Jester IV Unit - CID Clements Unit - CID
Division 7: Windham School District (WSD) WSD West
Texas Region
WSD North
Texas Region
WSD South
Texas Region

 

Gold and Platinum Challenges

During the first quarter, Gold Challenge participants were required 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. Valerie Mahfood from the LeBlanc Unit earned 64,230 points, the top score among the agency’s 119 Platinum Challengers, and John Hopkins from the Roach Unit won the Gold Challenge with 28,340 points, the most among 280 Gold Challenge participants.

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star bulletAgency News

TDCJ installs additional comprehensive video surveillance systems

CJAD improves strategic planning for CSCDs

CJAD publishes 2015 Community Supervision Diversion Funds report

W-2, 1095 tax forms scheduled for distribution

TDCJ employees set record with more than $1 million in 2015 SECC donations

Chairman's Fitness Challenge 2016: first-quarter results

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star bullet Saluting Employees