TDCJ funding approaching final passage in 88th Legislative Session budget
AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) - In a nearly finalized budget making its way through the 88th Legislative Session, we are beginning to see where money might be spent over the next two years at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. This comes almost one year after the TDCJ was at the center of a statewide manhunt for an escaped inmate who killed five people in Centerville while on the run.
At the price of over $4 billion a year, the TDCJ is looking for pay raises, facility improvements, and recording devices for 2024 and 2025.
An investigative report released following the escape of Gonzalo Lopez, who led corrections staff on a month-long manhunt in Centerville before he killed a family of five and died in a shootout with police, found flaws inside the TDCJ facilities that contributed to the escape such as a lack of video capabilities and equipment failures. This included holes in cell walls and a broken body orifice scanner. If approved, the budget would devote over $191 million over the next two years to work on facility repairs.
The TDCJ is also asking for almost $24 million for correctional officer body cameras that would provide cameras for officers at 23 maximum facilities. This was also something the post-escape report focused on, with up to 20 corrections staff and supervisors found to have failed to comply with policy on the day Lopez escaped, but little was captured on individual cameras.
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