Keep Vending Machines at TDCJ McConnell Unit working and fully stocked

Keep Vending Machines at TDCJ McConnell Unit working and fully stocked

June 13, 2022
This petition made change with 249 supporters!

Why this petition matters

Started by Inez Crowley

On March 13, 2020, the TDCJ suspended visitation after a disaster declaration due to Covid was issued by Governor Greg Abbott.  During that year, families and friends were kept from visitation in any form and we did not know whether or not vending machines continued to be stocked for employees.

In July 2021, contact visitation resumed for all inmates who are eligible.  These visits are now back to "normal" allowing 2 adults and 2 children.  These visits are scheduled Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 1pm to 530pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 530pm. For 2 hour increments, with each inmate being allowed a visit once per week.

Because the visitation times and days have increased to accommodate more families, this has put a higher demand on snacks and drinks families enjoy purchasing for their loved ones as a small gift and reprieve from a world of nothing!

However, since returning to visitation, the current Vending Machine Contract Vendor, Kenneth Ballard atexas Sales Tax Permit holder 32004612795, Business Address: 119 Bluebird Rd, Victoria, TX 77905, has failed to keep the machines stocked.  With visitation back in session for a year now, this unit rarely has snacks or drinks available and many times we lose money in the machines that is never reimbursed, because his phone number goes unanswered.  McConnell unit is a G5 large capacity unit and discharge unit.  At any time, they are holding up to 3000 inmates and if fully staffed about 2500 employees.  Visitors are allowed to bring $25 for snacks and drinks and we have to share with employees who also use the machines during the course of their 24/7 schedules.

I requested to file a formal complaint with the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts, Vendor Performance Coordinator with the Statewide Procurement Division Outreach Program.  Ms. Veronica Martinez stated:

"Unfortunately, our agency would not handle this complaint.  You will need to contact the Texas Department of Criminal Justice directly.  Please feel free to contact the McConnell Prison Unit at 361-362-2300.  Any complaints will be handled at the agency level for this vendor."

I did respond to her email advising that TDCJ has vehemently denied having anything to do with or control over the vending machines, when they are stocked, repaired or what products are available.

This vendor has a contract under the disabled vendor program that the state of Texas has to promote business for those with disabilities.  The unit needs these machines restocked and cared for 2 to 3 times per week to meet demand and this vendor shows these machines are his only location.

Why must we or any unit be subjected to no way to even get water during our visits?  We are not allowed to bring in food/drinks or leave with any.  We request a vendor who is willing to to make sure the machines are stocked with healthy snacks, like sandwiches, fruit, beef jerky, salad and treats like chips, donuts, honeybees, apple fritters, candy, chocolate, etc; and Drinks like sodas, water, Gatorade, lemonade, Tea, etc.  We ask simply for the supply to match demand, the machines to be working and the phones/response to be immediate when there are issues.  If this was any other vendor who did not or could not fulfill his contract, they would be out of business.  It behooves him to keep machines stocked to earn a lucrative living from families that spend millions every year on their loved ones in prison.

Please sign this petition to force TEXAS to make sure business vendors perform the functions the promised to in the contracts they signed.  Amen


This petition made change with 249 supporters!

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