Prison Lockdown Policies Upsetting Employees

There is no immediate end in sight for one of the largest prison lockdowns Texas has seen in decades. Representatives from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice say the lockdown is expected to last close to 3 weeks. As long as it takes for investigators to search 111 prisons in the state.

It is not only the prisoners under scrutiny but prison employees as well, the TDCJ is not allowing food or any outside contraband into the prison system.  They say they are providing food through the commissary and the Officer's Dinning Hall. They are advising employees to not bring anything to work, just a photo ID.

With all these rules and regulations being instituted on prison employees, some say the TDCJ is going too far.

We talked with a prison employee who is putting their job on the line in hopes of making things better for fellow employees during the lockdown. They feel prison worker rights are being violated the longer the lockdown persists. With in 24-hours of Texas Governor Rick Perry's lockdown the Panhandle prison system has changed.

Every prison employee must go through an extensive search of their property and their body. They say the searching is making employees at least an hour late for work and harder to take breaks.  Some employees say if they even receive a lunch break the dinning hall is closed because it is run by inmates and the commissary has limited options if you have dietary needs or medical conditions. These new policy changes are leaving many employees frustrated and ready to take action.

A prison employee told us that they will not be surprised to see some employees leave. "They'll probably be some that'll quit or even they calling in sick and make a real unsafe place for not just the public and us who work on the inside," they said.

TDCJ Representative Jason Clark says the changes are necessary to keep employees and the public safe. Employees feel they are paying the price for a mistake that occurred hundreds of miles away. They employees told us, "That has always been theTDCJ way. Whenever one messes up it affects everybody they don't deal with one. Which I know even at our facility we found today a little bit of contraband".

There are more than 15,000 inmates in the Texas prison system and hundreds of prison employees who are being called in to work overtime during the statewide contraband search.