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Financial Assistance 9


Recommendation

Texas should use prison labor for relief items.


Summary

Use inmates in the Texas prison system to manufacture items such as blankets and uniforms, as well as to refurbish military buses and trucks, for the war relief effort on a need-only basis. Inmate labor should be used in contracts with Texas state agencies, other states or the federal government to manufacture relief items should current resources begin to fall short.

With prototypes or patterns, Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) industries can quickly and efficiently add new production methods. TDCJ would likely save the government money by making the items more cheaply.[1] TDCJ aided the Red Cross during Hurricane Alicia and has assisted the National Guard in the past as well. There are currently about 7,500 inmates participating in TDCJ’s Texas Correctional Industries, with the availability of tens of thousands more inmates available for work.[2] Inmates could receive valuable job skills which they could use once released from TDCJ and reduce recidivism numbers. Taxpayers would see their tax dollars spent more efficiently by saving the government money on production costs.


Fiscal Impact

This recommendation would have no significant fiscal impact on the state.


[1] Telephone interview with John Benestante, director of Manufacturing and Logistics, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Austin, Texas, October 9, 2001.

[2] Interview with John Benestante, director of Manufacturing and Logistics, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Austin, Texas, October 16, 2001.