Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

November 18, 2013

Texas prison officials get big raises, drawing ire


Associated Press

AUSTIN — The head of Texas' prison system has given significant pay increases to top officials, months after his own large pay hike came under fire from prison employees, according to a newspaper report.

Brad Livingston awarded raises of 8 to 23 percent to division directors at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Austin American-Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/19yJFDO ).

Medical director Dr. Lanette Linthicum's salary went from $309,000 to $375,000. Deputy Executive Director Bryan Collier and Chief Financial Officer Jerry McGinty were given raises to $150,000 from $133,301.

The Legislature earlier this year gave Livingston a 39 percent pay raise, from $186,300 to $260,000. In total, the raises for Livingston's executive team will cost more than $250,000 a year.

The newspaper obtained the figures through the state open records law.

At the Department of Criminal Justice and several other agencies, many top officials make more money than the $150,000 a year paid to Gov. Rick Perry.

"These top-level leaders are tasked with operating one of the largest criminal justice agencies in the country," Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said in a statement. "The increase will allow TDCJ to remain competitive and continue to attract talented professionals."

Clark echoed statements from other agencies that say they need to raise pay to keep their top officials from leaving for the private sector.

But Brian Olsen, head of a union of correctional officers, says the salary hikes make him "want to puke" and compared them to the much more modest increases paid to guards.

"The raise for a top salaried correctional officer averages about $1,850 a year," Olsen said. "They're on the front lines in understaffed units that are difficult, dangerous places to work where people are being required to work mandatory overtime to cover shifts. You tell me whether this sounds fair."