As Texas Cuts Prison Funding, Experts Warn of Possible Violence

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Prison experts are warning that only so much fat can be cut before a relatively peaceful Texas prison system boils up into a dangerous stew of discontent, says the Dallas Morning News. State officials are carving as many dollars as possible from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice budget as they fight to close a $23 billion two-year state shortfall without raising taxes. The department has already slashed $40 million from its current budget. This week, the House Corrections Committee listened to ideas to trim almost $14 million more.

Chairman Jerry Madden said he knows the cuts are distasteful to some, but legislators are retaining as many services as they can. Cutting inmate “amenities” such as food, education, and rehabilitation programs is a “very short-sighted idea,” said Robert Worley, criminal justice professor at Texas A&M Central Texas and a former prison guard. “You're going to have all kinds of collateral consequences that, I think, will be more costly for the prison system in the long run,” he said. Said Brian Olsen of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a former prison guard: “There is a point, when you take away enough, the inmates are going to act out and take it out on correctional staff.”

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