Independent Agency to monitor all TDCJ Correctional Facilities

Independent Agency to monitor all TDCJ Correctional Facilities

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Edna Watts started this petition to Texas State House and

Petition Statement
I am requesting legislation that will create an independent, external oversight for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in 2019, and therein:
• Develop an independent agency tasked with the comprehensive oversight and monitoring of all TDCJ correctional facilities, consistent with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s Ombudsman Office.
• Provide the independent oversight body with full access to all facilities, data, incarcerated individuals, and corrections staff for routine monitoring, inspections, and gathering of information.
• Increase oversight of the state’s criminal justice and corrections agencies through as increased frequency of Sunset Advisory Commission evaluations.
• Increase the frequency and opportunity for public input on important criminal justice issues to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice.
• Develop independent grievance review boards.
• Provide the independent agency the legislative authority to correct and report Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) misapplications of law and misdeeds to legislature and all injured parties – including, yet not limited to, the TDCJ inmate, and his or her family and friends -- who request such information.
Petition Background
Right now, many of the wrongdoings that frequently occur inside the TDCJ and the BPP are shrouded in a veil of secrecy. This lack of transparency enables and perpetuates a broken system – which allows incarcerated individuals and their families alike to suffer.
Regrettably, behind this veil of secrecy, inmates are subjected to deadly heat, non-working fans, guards denying access to cool areas when inmates are in medical distress, broken or contaminated water systems, bogus or frivolous disciplinary cases, assaults, harassment and retaliation at the hands of guards, and various other forms of cruel and unusual punishment.
In similar respects, families who seek solutions, as well as the humane treatment and safety of their loved ones, suffer through the families’ inability to go beyond the red tape to get answers. Likewise, their frustrations are not alleviated by confrontations with TDCJ officials unwilling to correct a bad situation or wrongdoing instigated by one of its own.
Undeniably, this clearly spells out a dire need for an independent, external oversight agency. Without such an independent agency, we are basically asking TDCJ to police itself, and to do what it historically has never done, that is, be totally truthful about its internal misbehavior.
Further, it continues to place inmates, families and society at the mercy of the two prominent and failing internal TDCJ processes – which are the Ombudsman’s office and the TDCJ grievance system. Moreover, while both systems are too deeply rooted and connected within TDCJ to truly be effective and unbiased, the Ombudsman does not and will not investigate whether procedures are followed or ignored.
Then, amplifying this injury, neither the grievance system or the Ombudsman are vehicles for inmates or their families to address any parole related misapplications of law, discrepancies, or misdeeds. And, since the BPP and inmates’ parole files are also cloaked in layers of secrecy, it’s commonplace for inmates to receive parole denials (set-offs) stipulated in vague, bureaucratic boilerplate language – which leaves the actual reason an unknown mystery.
Thus, there has clearly never been a more urgent time than now for legislators to force both the TDCJ and the BPP into transparency and accountability by creating an independent oversight.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!