Pending TX Execution Focuses Attention On Longstanding State Prison Staffing Issues


In 1999, Daniel Nagle, a correctional officer, stood on the Texas Capitol steps, leading a rally to ask lawmakers for a pay raise for his fellow prison employees, says the Texas Tribune. “Someone will have to be killed,” he said, “before the Texas Department of Criminal Justice does anything about the shortage of staff in Texas prisons.” Two weeks later, Nagle was fatally stabbed by an inmate. The prison workers’ union, a chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said understaffing and low pay continue to put officers in danger today.

The state counters that all of its critical security positions are filled. The inmate convicted of Nagle's murder says the staffing issues created a situation that was ripe for corruption and led him to being framed. Robert Pruett, 33, was convicted of Nagle's killing and is scheduled to be executed on May 21. In an interview, he maintained his innocence and said that inmates and corrupt officers colluded to blame him for the murder. Prosecutors convinced a jury that Pruett murdered Nagle after a dispute over a disciplinary write-up. “I was easy to blame,” said Pruett, who was 20 at the time of Nagle’s death, serving a 99-year sentence for being an accomplice in the murder of a neighbor by his father when he was a teenager.

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