Texas Prisons Still Face Guard Vacancies Despite Bonuses

The Texas prison system is still facing staffing shortages seven months after designating $9 million to bring down the 14 percent officer vacancy rate.

The Houston Chronicle reports the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has 3,675 unfilled positions, about 30 more than January when state officials started addressing the issue. But prison officials have called it progress since vacancy numbers are down from a peak in April.

The system's vacancy rate has long been an issue in part due to facilities' remote locations, tough working conditions and relatively low pay.

Prison officials this year expanded $4,000 and $5,000 hiring bonuses to 29 understaffed units and increased starting pay 12 percent. New guards can make now $36,000 per year instead of $32,000.

Prison officials say the figures would be worse without the pay bumps and bonuses.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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