Stories From Behind Cement Walls; Former TDCJ Employee Speaks Out

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A former employee of the French Robertson Unit has come forward with allegations that the prison is understaffed, putting the the correctional officers and other workers in danger.

This former employee wished to remain anonymous, but she spoke out to KTAB about the conditions she says she witnessed at the prison, saying, “We are very low staffed. When looking at a staffing report, they base it off the number of staff assigned to that shift. . .staffing is poor out there all the way around.”

She says the under staffing, “puts us at a huge risk. If those inmates see we are understaffed, they will strike at us – whether that’s a basic assault by just hitting us or whether that’s a murder.”

These allegations are coming to light during an investigation into the murder of Correctional Officer Marianne Johnson who was found deceased after she was assaulted in the prison’s kitchen in June. Inmate Dillion Compton was charged with Murder in connection to Officer Johnson’s death.

Four employees at the French Robertson Unit are facing disciplinary action in connection to this incident. A serious incident review is still ongoing so the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can conduct a comprehensive examination at the events surrounding the murder.

The former employee who spoke out to KTAB and says she was shaken by Officer Johnson’s death and believes the homicide was caused in part by the under staffing. She says, “It devastated me. I’ve played what happened to her in my head many times thinking that could have just been me and what she went through and what her last moments alive was like. It’s devastating.”

Robert Hurst, a representative with the TDCJ, is refuting claims that the prison is understaffed. He released the following statement regarding the murder and alleged staffing issue:

“Staffing did not play a role in the homicide. The Robertson Unit is not short staffed. The agency works to ensure that there is appropriate correctional staffing is in place and critical positions are filled.
An investigation into the events surrounding the incident is ongoing with intent of providing additional clarity into how it took place and what additional measures may be implemented in the future to keep staff safe while working with dangerous offenders. What is clear is that the actions of Offender Compton alone are what caused the tragic death of Officer Johnson and he will ultimately be held responsible as this case moves forward in the criminal justice system.”

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