Those raises for workers in the Texas Department of Corrections are half the raises given other law enforcement personnel in the state, five percent over a two-year period.

Lance Lowry is union president for AFSCME Texas Correctional Employees, representing correctional workers.  He says he attended the hearings last week where the Legislature’s state budget was finalized.

“I had to go back and contact one of the committee members,” he says.  “Apparently, we were kept in the dark about the pay raise.”

Lowry says it’s tough to be a prison guard in Texas, especially since the state has three thousand positions sitting open right now.

“It’s extremely hot, dirty, and nasty,” Lowry says, “and the stress is very high.”

Lowry refers back to 14 years ago, when a corrections worker said maybe somebody would need to die to get the attention of state leaders.  That worker was killed two weeks later.  He says it feels like that’s the case now.