The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has virtually eliminated overtime pay for state prison guards.
The TDCJ tightened controls on overtime in March 2003 so that only compensatory, or "comp," time would be given for the first 240 hours of overtime earned within a year.
Once that threshold is met, overtime is paid.
The virtual elimination of overtime pay for Texas prison guards combined with the stress from the job is making it difficult to keep prisons fully staffed, correctional officers and experts say.
Morale is not real good right, now, according to Dan Beto, the director of the Correctional Management Institute of Texas at Sam Houston State University, which trains Texas Department of Criminal Justice managers.
Although the number of correctional officer vacancies has fallen from an all-time high in fiscal year 2001, turnover for TDCJ guards is inching up.
TDCJ officials downplay any frustration regarding the overtime issue.
Meanwhile State Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, has authored a bill that would restore overtime pay to correctional officers.