Texas Department of Criminal Justice:
An Inventory of Board of Criminal Justice Chairman's Administrative Correspondence and Meeting Files at the Texas State Archives, 1984, 1991-1993, bulk 1992
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) manages offenders in state prisons, state jails and contracted private correctional facilities. The agency also provides funding and certain oversight of community supervision and is responsible for the supervision of offenders released from prison on parole or mandatory supervision. The Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) comprises nine members, who are appointed by the governor to oversee TDCJ. The board members, appointed for staggered, six-year terms, are responsible for hiring the executive director of the department and setting rules and policies to guide the agency.
On March 13, 1848, the 2nd Texas Legislature passed the act that began the Texas penitentiary. A governing body was instituted with a three-member Board of Directors, appointed by the governor with the approval of the senate. The board was made responsible to locate a site for construction of the penitentiary, create and distribute a set of rules and bylaws for the administration of the penitentiary, oversee the treatment of convicts, prepare an annual inventory of property, and make an annual report to the governor. The commissioners selected Huntsville, Walker County, for the site, and construction began on August 5, 1848. In 1871, the legislature directed that the penitentiary be leased to private individuals (Chapter 21, 12th Legislature, 1st Called Session). These individuals, known as lessees, paid the state for the convict labor and use of facilities. In turn, they managed the system, including the clothing and feeding of the convicts, and the paying of the guards. A second prison facility, Rusk Penitentiary, was built between 1877 and 1882. It began receiving convicts in January of 1883.
Pursuant to the 1879 law, a superintendent, appointed by the governor with senate approval, was to serve as chief executive, assisted by an officer responsible for inspecting prisoner labor camps operated by private employers. In 1881, the legislature reorganized the prison system. It abolished the Board of Directors and created in its place a Penitentiary Board. This board consisted of the governor, the state treasurer, and the prison superintendent (Chapter 49, 17th Legislature, Regular Session). In April 1883, the administrative system was yet again reorganized. The board now comprised the governor and two commissioners appointed by the governor (Chapter 114, 18th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1885, after yet another change, the board consisted of three commissioners appointed by the governor (House Bill 562, 19th Legislature, Regular Session). This board was succeeded by the Board of Prison Commissioners in 1910, which was composed of three commissioners appointed by the governor (Senate Bill 10, 31st Legislature, 4th Called Session). The legislation that created the new board also directed the prison system to begin operating again on state account, i.e., lessees no longer managed the prison system, effective in January 1911.
In 1927, the Texas Prison Board replaced the Board of Prison Commissioners as the governing body for the Texas Prison System, increasing in size to nine members (House Bill 59, 40th Legislature, Regular Session). The members of the board were appointed by the governor, with senate approval, to six-year overlapping terms. The board formulated the policies and the manager carried them out. During its existence, 1927-1957, the board made changes in the system including more emphasis on prison reform, teaching, recreation - including the establishment of the Texas Prison Rodeo - and a new method of classifying inmates. In 1957, the Texas Prison System became the Department of Corrections (Senate Bill 42, 55th Legislature, Regular Session). This department was governed by the Board of Corrections, composed of nine members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate to six-year overlapping terms.
During the 1960s, the Department of Corrections designated the Huntsville Penitentiary and prison farms as "units" and opened several new facilities. In 1963, the department opened the 11,672-acre Ellis Unit north of Huntsville. The 22,640-acre Coffield Unit near Tennessee Colony in Anderson County began operations in 1965. In 1969, Windham School, an institution for inmates in all units, became a regular school district eligible to receive state foundation funds. By 1972, the prison system owned more than 100,000 acres.
In 1989, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) were created (House Bill 2335, 71st Legislature, Regular Session). The governor may not appoint more than two members who reside in an area encompassed by the same administrative judicial region. The following TDCJ divisions report directly to TBCJ – the Office of the Inspector General with oversight of the investigations department, the Internal Audit Division, and the Office of State Counsel for Offenders. In addition, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) ombudsman is appointed by and reports directly to the board. TBCJ members also serve as the board of trustees for the Windham School District within TDCJ and are responsible for providing general oversight and the hiring of the school system's superintendent. In the same year, the Department of Corrections, which was responsible for the operation of the prison system, became the institutional division of TDCJ. The division manages the housing of inmates within the prison system. Offenders are housed in 73 facilities - 59 prison units and 14 transfer facilities, including five women's units, four medical units, three psychiatric units, a diagnostic unit for initial processing, two boot camps, and two work camps. TDCJ also contracts with seven privately operated facilities to house inmates. As of August 2011, approximately 156,522 offenders were housed in TDCJ units; 17,224 in private facilities.
Selden B. Hale III was appointed TBCJ chairman in 1991. Originally from Gruver, Texas, he received a bachelor's degree of science in 1965 from West Texas State University (WTSU). While at college, he worked as a police reporter for the Amarillo Daily News. He subsequently earned a doctor of jurisprudence degree from St. Mary's University School of Law in 1967 and began working as a criminal trial lawyer. He served as corporate counsel to the Pioneer Gas Company prior to entering private practice. He served as TBCJ chairman until 1992. A former U.S. Marine and a qualified weapons expert, he initiated a marksmanship program to train prison guards in 1995. Hale has also taught government and criminal justice at Amarillo College and West Texas State University. He was instrumental in establishing the Texas Tech University School of Pharmacy. He also established the Texas Punishment Standards Commission, and the Prison Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program.
Carol S. Vance assumed the position of chairman of TBCJ in 1992. His term on the board expired in 1999. In 1996, Vance, along with Charles Colson and then Texas Governor George W. Bush, helped start the first Christian faith-based prison program at the Jester II prison unit. This program, the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI), was operated by Prison Fellowship Ministries and was eventually implemented in Jester II in 1997. Vance also played a key role in opening the state's correctional system to volunteers. While he was TBCJ chairman, the number of volunteers working within TDCJ is estimated to have tripled. In addition, he helped in the development of TDCJ's Programs and Services Division (now named the Rehabilitation Programs Division and the Reentry and Integration Programs Division), as well as the substance abuse treatment program. In 1999, TBCJ voted to rename the Jester II prison unit (originally named after Texas Governor, Beauford H. Jester) as the Carol Vance unit. Vance attended public schools in Houston and graduated from the law school at the University of Texas at Austin in 1958. He started his career in the Harris County district attorney's office as an assistant district attorney, first under Dan Walton and then under Frank Briscoe. Texas Governor John Connally appointed him to fill the district attorney's spot when Frank Briscoe resigned to run for Congress in 1966. At age 32, Vance became the second youngest district attorney in Harris County history (21-year-old Peter Gray, chosen in 1842, was younger). Vance served as district attorney from 1966 until his resignation in 1979. He then became a senior partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP (a private law firm) until retiring in 2001. During his career, he was president of the National District Attorneys Association, TBCJ chairman, and member of the State Bar of Texas Penal Code Committee, which was responsible for authoring the 1974 Penal Code used in Texas today. Vance is a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. He has also authored three books, including After the Leap - Basics of the Christian Faith, which was included in the IFI curriculum at the Carol Vance prison unit.
(Sources include: Paul M. Lucko, "Prison System," Handbook of Texas Online, published by the Texas State Historical Association (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/jjp03), accessed March 30, 2012; "Annual Review 2011" and "Statistical Report 2011," available on the TDCJ website (http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/tbcj/index.html), accessed June 6, 2012; West Texas A&M University website (http://www.wtamu.edu/academics/college-of-education-and-social-sciences-graduates-of-distinction.aspx), accessed June 8, 2012; Amarillo Globe-News website (http://amarillo.com/stories/2003/02/23/new_attorneyis.html), accessed June 8, 2012; Rotary Grams newsletter, May 15, 1991 (http://tinyurl.com/7t6jfoa), accessed June 8, 2012; Texas District and County Attorney's Association website (http://www.tdcaa.com/node/3303), accessed June 6, 2012; Bracewell & Guiliani LLP website (http://www.bracewellgiuliani.com/news-publications/news-releases/bracewell-alum-carol-s-vance-receives-recognition-texas-bar-foundati), accessed June 6, 2012; Criminal Justice Connections newsletter on TDCJ website (http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/connections/MayJun2005/agency3_v12no5.html#vance), accessed June 6, 2012; Houston Bar Association Auxiliary newsletter, January 2011 (http://tinyurl.com/8a8nobq), accessed June 13, 2012; and the agency's records.)
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) manages offenders in state prisons, state jails and contracted private correctional facilities. The agency also provides funding and certain oversight of community supervision and is responsible for the supervision of offenders released from prison on parole or mandatory supervision. The Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) comprises nine members, appointed by the governor to oversee TDCJ. The board members, appointed for staggered, six-year terms, are responsible for hiring the executive director of the department and setting rules and policies which guide the agency. These records consist of administrative correspondence and meeting files from the office of the TBCJ chairman. Dates covered are 1984, 1991-1993, bulk 1992. The records include documents from the terms of former TBCJ chairmen, Selden B. Hale III and Carol S. Vance. Minutes are present for TBCJ board meetings (numbers 21 through 29). The records primarily comprise meeting files, including agendas; itineraries; motions; memorandums; minutes; performance reports; statistical reviews of TDCJ departments and divisions; financial statements; plans for future prison units; internal organizational policies and administrative directives; biographical information for job applicants; photocopies of newspaper clippings; photocopies of pages from the Texas Register; statements of gifts and donations; printouts of electronic slide presentations; affidavits; fax cover pages; informational fliers; copies of architectural drawings; and administrative information for internal financial audits. In addition, the records contain administrative, official and legal correspondence, including a letter in Spanish accompanied by its English-language translation. Subjects of board meetings include: the statewide jail backlog crowding situation; projected cost estimates for constructing new prison units and improving existing units; requests for proposal for the location, construction, operation, and management of secure TDCJ correctional facilities; a review of the educational and recreational fund budget; appointments; and rules and regulations.
Restrictions on Access
Because of the possibility that portions of these records fall under Public Information Act exceptions including, but not limited to: security issues (some items - plans and drawings mainly, bid specs, etc., show access to the prisons that could hinder law enforcement) (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.108); social security numbers (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.101); attorney-client privilege, agency memoranda or attorney work product (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.107 or 111); home addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers and personal family information of employees of the Dept. of Criminal Justice/Dept. of Corrections employees (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.117); and driver's license numbers (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.130); an archivist must review these records before they can be accessed for research. The records may be requested for research under the provisions of the Public Information Act (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Chapter 552). The researcher may request an interview with an archivist or submit a request by mail (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, P. O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711), fax (512-463-5436), email (Dir_Lib@tsl.state.tx.us), or see our web page (https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/agency/customer/pia.html). Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the archivist to accurately identify and locate the information. If our review reveals information that may be excepted by the Public Information Act, we are obligated to seek an open records decision from the Attorney General on whether the records can be released. The Public Information Act allows the Archives ten working days after receiving a request to make this determination. The Attorney General has 45 working days to render a decision. Alternately, the Archives can inform you of the nature of the potentially excepted information and if you agree, that information can be redacted or removed and you can access the remainder of the records.
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Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
(Identify the item), Board of Criminal Justice chairman's administrative correspondence and meeting files, Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 2012/132
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on February 28, 2012.
Processed by Aditi Worcester, June 2012
Detailed Description of the Records