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December 19, 2008

Houston Chronicle Reports Goree Warden Under Investigation

Huntsville, Texas


In a follow up to an investigation involving TDCJ craftshops, former TDCJ Senior Warden Charles Williamson, 39, has been reassigned to the Region I office pending an investigation involving misuse of offender labor.  Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Michelle Lyons told the Houston Chronicle that Warden Williamson was reassigned November 10, 2008.  The agency refused to disclose any further details about the investigation to the Houston Chronicle. 

Link to Houston Chronicle Story: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6169561.html

Houston TV news Fox 26 Investigates broke a simular story in November on violations involving TDCJ craftshops after a sex offender's wife allegedly posted a website and sold prison made items in violation of state and Federal law.  It was disclosed to TDCJ Union Blog at that time a TDCJ Senior Warden was also under investigation for alleged misuse of offender labor at a TDCJ unit craftshop.   Resale of prison made items for profit is a violation of Federal Law under the Ashworth-Summers Act and under the Texas Government Code.  All inmate made items sold on the open market are subject to the Federal Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP). 

Link to Fox 26 Story:  http://www.myfoxhouston.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=7894428&version=2&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1

The PIECP program was stated in 1979 as a job training program that allowed private industry to use prison labor to teach inmates job skills.  The PIECP program came under fire in Texas after a scandle involving Direct Trailer broke.  Lufkin Industries accused the program of leading to the trailer manufacturer's downfall.  Direct Trailer, a company ran by John Nelson, used inmate labor at the Michaels Unit and leased the TDCJ factory for $1 a year.  Lufkin Industries accused Direct Trailer of having an unfair government subsidy.

Link to Direct Trailer Story: http://www.lufkindailynews.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/12/12/Nichols_Applauds.html

Another PIECP scandle involved a Farmers Branch company called Unique Performance, who was accused of defrauding customers out of millions of dollars. 

Link to CBS 11 Dallas Story on Unique Performance: http://cbs11tv.com/investigators/Unique.Performance.investigation.2.690889.html

In Texas under the Texas Government Code Sec. 497.010 a person commits an offense if the person intentionally sells or offers to sell on the open market in this state an article or product the person knows was manufactured in whole or in part by an inmate of the department or an inmate in any correctional facility or reformatory institution in this state or in any other state, other than an inmate.

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