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Passenger buses that once carried Aggies now hauling TDCJ offenders

Bus driving past prison gate
An Offender Transportation bus passes through an interior security gate at the Estelle Unit in Huntsville.

Photo by David Nunnelee

Buses that once carried Aggies are now hauling offenders.

In late May, TDCJ received title to 18 buses Texas A&M University recently retired from its fleet and sold to the agency. Manufacturing & Logistics Division Director Rick Thaler said the vehicles were purchased primarily to supplement the fleet of buses used by the agency to transport offenders throughout the state.

“Our intent with these 18 buses is not necessarily to grow the fleet,” Thaler said. “Our intent is to hopefully take some buses out of commission that currently have extremely high repair costs.”

TDCJ now has approximately 185 buses in its fleet, of which 117 are assigned to Offender Transportation. The buses purchased from A&M have traveled far fewer miles and are equipped with rear-end diesel engines that have proven to be extremely durable, he said.

“In comparison to what we have in our fleet, they’re fairly low mileage buses,” Thaler said.

Because of costs, Thaler said the buses purchased from A&M would not be retrofitted with security systems that would allow them to carry any classification of offender. Instead, the buses, each with a capacity of between 45 and 50 passengers, would be used to carry low-risk offenders to work or community service assignments.

“Retrofitting the buses would be extremely costly,” Thaler said. “Without those security systems, the only offenders we can transport are G1 offenders, or outside trusties.”

Along with the 18 buses from A&M, TDCJ expects to further upgrade its offender transportation vehicle fleet by taking delivery of 11 new large passenger buses this year and 11 more next year. The agency also expects to add another 53 vans to its fleet of offender transport vehicles this year and has already complied with a legislative mandate for the biennium by assigning 10 more fuel-efficient subcompact cars to its motor pool fleet.

Parole, probation officers recognized nationwide for enhancing public safety

Parole, probation and community supervision officers were recognized across the nation the week of July 13-19 for their role in making their communities better and safer places to live.

“This is a week in which we should recognize and thank our Texas probation and parole officers as well as all the others who make up our community corrections professionals in this state,” said TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston. “These dedicated professionals work diligently each and every day on the front lines to assist and supervise offenders in our communities, and through their efforts, our public safety is significantly enhanced.”

In Texas, officers were treated to breakfasts and luncheons in celebration of their dedication to public service within their communities. City and county officials presented proclamations in several locations and certificates of appreciation were awarded.

“On a daily basis, you exhibit dedication by working one-on-one with criminal offenders to hold them accountable and assist them in becoming productive members of society,” TDCJ Parole Division Director Stuart Jenkins said in a message to the approximately 1,400 men and women who work as district parole officers, institutional parole officers, and case managers across the state. “Whether completing a case summary, conducting home visits, or processing a violation report, you are fulfilling an important responsibility. In upholding the law, you also work diligently to promote public safety and prevent future crimes. Your work requires great sacrifice, commitment, and risk. I would like each of you to celebrate the contributions you have made.”

TDCJ Community Justice Assistance Division Director Bonita White said the theme of the week, “Making Your Mark on the Community,” is something probation and community supervision officers accomplish each day by making their communities safer. She encouraged Community Supervision and Community Corrections departments across the state to celebrate their “outstanding” officers.

“However you decide to celebrate the week, please be sure to let your staff know that they are the reason for successful community supervision in Texas,” she said.

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