The Texas State Senate News
AUSTIN - Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock has called for an in-depth look into the operations of prison work programs in Texas jails. Recent media attention has shed light on cases of convicts misusing information they come across as part of these programs.
The Texas Department of Transportation currently uses prisoners to process renewal notices for car registrations and other vehicle title information work. But a recent segment aired on Primetime Live revealed that government agencies and private companies in other states are allowed to use convicted criminals to process consumer records or solicit business over the phone. This means that murderers, child molesters, and rapists have access to social security and credit card numbers as well as tax and medical records. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has discontinued this practice but other state governments still allow prison inmates to participate in consumer information processing.
Bullock asked the Senate Interim Committee on Criminal Justice to study the safety of these programs that allow access to third party personal information and to look at the laws that limit the use of such information.
"Strong policies must be in place to ensure prisoners don't have the chance to violate the privacy of anyone," Bullock said. "While it is important for inmates to work to help repay their debt to society, safety must always come first."
Those serving on the Senate committee are Senators John Whitmire of Houston (chair), Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, Florence Shapiro of Plano and Royce West of Dallas.