• AFSCME TexasCorrectional Employees calls TDCJ to change Death Row Plan

    AFSCME Texas

    Correctional Employees

    Local 3807

    “We Patrol Texas' Toughest Beat”

    January 20, 2014


    As the president of the largest correctional professional organization in Texas I am calling on the

    Texas Department of Criminal Justice to change the death row plan to positively impact both the

    correctional staff and offenders on Texas death row. After the November 1998 escape of Offender

    Martin Gurule, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice engaged in a knee jerk reaction regarding the

    administration of Texas death row inmates.

    Staff incompetency and lack of proper security equipment were the biggest factors resulting in

    Gurule's escape from the O.B. Ellis death row. As a result of the escape the agency ignored the root of

    the problem and addressed the lack of security equipment by increasing the physical perimeter security,

    in addition to the number of firearm rounds issued to perimeter pickets. Lack of staff competency was

    never addressed in a positive manner and has resulted in a less experienced force securing Texas death


    The changes in the death row plan following the Gurule escape have resulted in the solitary

    housing of “D1” offenders who were capable and had additional privileges which could be used as

    management tools for negative behavior. As a result of the changes to the Texas death row plan,

    inmates have very few privileges to lose and staff become an easy targets.

    The Texas death row plan needs to address tools that can manage positive behavior. D1 offenders

    who are work capable should be utilized. Housing death row D1 offenders in a solitary cell is a waste

    of valuable security personnel and money. D1 offenders should be housed 2 offenders to a cell and

    treated similar to G3 offenders in terms of privileges such as work assignment and allowed TV

    privileges by streaming over the air television to a computer tablet using a closed WiFi network. Use

    of technologies such as computer tablets and streaming TV should be offered to offenders who exhibit

    positive behavior. Lack of visual or audio stimulation result in increased psychological incidents and

    results in costly crisis management.

    Staff incompetency should be addressed by offering death row officers a salary differential and

    substantially increase their training for staff committed to working death row. A greater pay differential

    will insure we have the best officers watching Texas most dangerous population. Other correctional

    agencies have successfully used differentials to address staffing issues. Let's make Texas a model for

    successful death row criminal justice reforms.


    Lance l Lowry

    Lance Lowry

    President Local 3807

    1314 Tenth, Street, Suite 110, Huntsville, Texas 77320

    (936) 295-5265 ' 1-800-374-9772



Listen to Petra de Jong and Gloria Rubac interview on KPFT News about the inhuman living conditions on Texas DR that motivated Jamie McCoskey to give up his last appeals in order to be executed.

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