TDCJ locks down prisons, stops visitation in effort to stop rising violence, drug use

Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 10:43 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2023 at 12:10 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is locking down its prisons in efforts to stop the rising violence and drug use.

Within the last five years or so, there has been an increase of illegal narcotics coming into the prison systems, according to a TDCJ press release. This directly has impacted the safety of staff and inmates.

This year, TDCJ has had 16 inmate-on-inmate homicides, which is believed to be tied back to illegal drugs, officials said.

Due to the rise of violence and drugs in statewide prisons, TDCJ is immediately locking down and searching the correctional facilities.

“These incidents have heightened concerns regarding the safety and security of inmates, staff, and the public,” TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier said. “A lockdown is a necessary response to confront the root causes of this crisis, enhance security measures, and ensure the well-being of all individuals within our agency. We are committed to finding the narcotics, but also working with the Office of Inspector General and outside law enforcements to dismantle the networks that are trafficking drugs into our systems.”

These are the following measures TDCJ is taking to find and prevent any entry of dangerous contraband:

  • Systemwide lockdown: Each facility will limit the movement of inmates and their contact with those outside of the prison. Inmates and staff will be searched to find and confiscate contraband.
  • Visitation will be canceled until further notice. Inmates will still have access to the phone system and tablets.
  • Digital mail: TDCJ is completing the rollout of the digital mail program. Starting today, inmate mail will be sent to the digital mail center, will be scanned, and uploaded to the tablets. Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in paper soaked in K2 or meth coming into the facilities. The digital mail program will stop this from happening, officials said.
  • Tiplines: TDCJ is creating dedicated tiplines for inmates, staff and families to report any suspicious activities or information related to contraband.
  • Increased K9 searches and other technology: There will be specialized search teams and narcotic dogs sent to units, and staff will be subject to enhanced search procedures.
  • Comprehensive searches: Anyone entering the TDCJ facilities will undergo comprehensive searches.
  • Increased drug testing: A heightened drug testing protocol will be implemented in order to identify anyone involved in drug-related activities.
  • More precautionary measures may be conducted when needed.

After the comprehensive searches are complete, normal operations will continue, officials said.