Bad economic times are good times for Texas prisons to fill their vacancies.
Texas has just 1,262 correctional officer jobs now open, compared with more than 3,700 openings just over a year ago. Officials say more people have become guards because of pay incentives and the struggling economy.
“It’s the economy. No doubt about it,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. He chairs the Criminal Justice Legislative Oversight Committee that oversees prison operations.
“When there’s not many choices for employment, and the oil patch slows down, these prison jobs start looking real good,” Whitmire said.
Texas prison guards start at about $26,000 a year. After eight years, the salary tops out at about $34,600. Even with the pay raises, Texas still ranks low nationally in correctional officer pay. Last year, it ranked 13th among 16 southern states, according to prison officials.
The economy has to be pretty bad for those jobs to look attractive, if you ask me. HPD and the Harris County Sheriff’s office, both of which pay better, have similarly benefited. And hey, it’s government spending that even conservatives approve of.