Records Appraisal Report:
Department of Criminal Justice Facilities Division Building Construction Project Files
Contents of this report
Agency Contact | Record Series Review
Internal links to series reviews
Building construction project files
1998 Appraisal report
Archival finding aid
Texas Department of Criminal Justice: An Inventory of Records at the Texas State Archives, 1849-2004
September 2006, Laura K. Saegert, Appraisal Archivist
This agency contact information was current at the time of the report but may have changed in the interim. Please call (512-463-5455) for current contact information of the agency's records manager or records liaison for these records.
Obsolete record series? No
Ongoing record series? Yes
Annual accumulation: over 50 cu. ft.
The agency holds about 3000 cubic ft. of project files (about 1500 transfiles, each holding two cubic ft.)
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) contacted the Archives in late August 2006 asking for a review of their building construction project files so they could make some disposal decisions - either transfer to the Archives or destroy the records. We had one accession of records from this series that was waiting appraisal already in the Archives, consisting of about 88 cubic ft. The total volume to review is about 3088 cubic ft. (about 3000 cubic ft. at the agency, about 88 cubic ft. at the Archives). I talked with TDCJ staff about the records and had them send me a typical box to review (files on a kitchen renovation at the Huntsville Unit). We decided to review the boxes in-house since they are part of this same series. While reviewing the boxes in our stacks I discovered a few boxes that do not belong with this series. Two are boxes of photographs (some construction, some general TDCJ photos) that belong with an existing series of photographs in the processed TDCJ records. I will add these boxes of photographs to that series. There was also a transfile of seemingly routine administrative files of the Facilities Division - these will be appraised separately, and a transfile of self-evaluation materials (working files) for a Sunset Commission evaluation in the mid 1980s. This will also be appraised separately.
In preparation for this appraisal I talked with TDCJ staff about the records and the facilities they document, asking for record types, dates, and which facilities had the most historic value. I reviewed the most recent appraisal manual on architectural records - Architectural Records, Managing Design and Construction Records, Waverly Lowell and Tawny Ryan Nelb, Society of American Archivists, 2006. For our purposes, we cannot possibly keep all the project files for all the prisons constructed. There was a flurry of prison construction beginning in the mid-1980s because of prison overcrowding, both in the state prison units and in the county jails, which were being used to house state felons until room was available in the state prison units.
Some of the records in this series are for new units, many are for additions and renovations to existing units, ranging from adding a new cellblock to repair of a roof. TDCJ staff sent me a database to the boxes in storage that includes the unit name, type of project, some record types, and dates. TDCJ staff also provided me with a list of 12 units that are considered somewhat historic - these are the oldest units, built between 1849 and 1933 (Central, 1909, rebuilt 1932; Clemens, 1893; Darrington, 1917; Eastham, 1917; Goree, 1907; Huntsville, 1849; Jester I, 1885, brick building 1932; Ramsey I, 1908; Ramsey II, 1908; Retrieve, 1919; Vance 1885, brick building in 1933; and Wynne, 1883). While reviewing the records in-house and the database sent by TDCJ of the off-site records I did not see any major changes made to these particular units, just additions and renovations, mostly roof repair, renovations of kitchens, work on or addition of HVAC units, electrical work, dorm renovations, changes to the locking systems, plumbing work, additions to the rodeo area, additions or repairs to water towers, work on the sewage and wastewater systems, addition or repair of water wells, and repair of roads. Similar project files, including addition of medical units and cellblocks, are present for the other units in existence before the new building rush. There are also project files for construction of new prison units and several boxes of files for juvenile detention facilities operated by the Texas Youth Commission (TYC). Staff could not explain why they had TYC project files in their warehouse unless their staff did the work. The files in the Archives had similar projects noted.
The Facilities Division maintain in separate series all the plans and drawings (original plans and drawings, design drawings, elevations, perspectives, site plans, as-built plans and drawings, etc.), final specifications, and copies of contracts (series are 17.03.01, Construction specifications; 17.03.04 , Record set or as-built drawings). Both of these series are maintained at the Facilities Division for the life of the asset and have an archival review code of R. Another series of interest is the Architect and Engineering files (17.03.02), also with an archival code of R and maintained for the life of the asset. These files contain memos, correspondence and other items the architects or engineers (mostly TDCJ staff, some contracted architects or engineers) would maintain in their working files. Staff members said copies of many of these documents also appear in the project files. Original contracts are kept in the Contracts and Procurement Section and maintained for four years after the end of the project (18.06.01).
I talked with several Facilities Division staff members about the records and asked what they would need for renovation or repair of facilities - would the as-built drawings and specifications be sufficient. They said yes, but they sometimes need the project files for other issues. There is currently a lawsuit against the agency brought by parents of a deceased inmate centered on problems in the design or construction of the prison unit to which he was assigned. When something like that happens (and this is not a unique situation), they need the whole project file, or in this case, the Attorney General's Office is reviewing the entire project file. The agency started scanning the project files in 2002 (does not include retroactive records) and so they have access to the electronic copies from 2002 forward. They migrate these files every two years to maintain the integrity of the scans. While talking with staff members I asked what they would think if we did a sampling of a few of the newer units, keeping the entire project file. They liked that idea and said there were two or three main prototypes for new facilities, though most facilities do have some unique features, often because of landscape concerns. They mentioned the 1000 bed prototype unit (to also include additional cell blocks added), the Michaels Unit and the McConnell or Connally Unit. They did not see much value in maintaining routine work to existing units, such as renovation of kitchen and dining areas, roof repairs and additions, etc. However, an addition of a cellblock might be worth keeping. They did not see value for their uses in maintaining videos or photographs of construction, though the appraisal handbook says those should be kept for buildings you chose to document. The appraisal handbook also states that some weeding generally has to be done for large collections of public buildings and the authors suggest sampling is one way to go with fairly generic buildings.
Files the appraisal handbook says you should keep for buildings documented are preliminary, working and as-built drawings (presentation drawings, designs, sketches, perspectives, elevations, selected details, structural drawings, plans, and site plans). Drawings of electrical, mechanical and plumbing work are optional, especially when you are faced with a large volume of material. Also to keep are photos, slides, and videos of site construction, details, and interiors. Textual records to maintain are significant consultant and client correspondence; contracts; legal records; specifications; environmental impact reports; proposals; meeting minutes; selected phone notes; selected progress, engineering, and consultant reports; some of the monthly reports; documents for final payment; public comment; published articles; records unique to particular jobs; and manufacturers brochures if product significant and used. Non-permanent records are bid sets, duplicate drawings, duplicate photographs, superseded construction drawings, daily and weekly reports, change orders, transmittals, financial records, and non-substantial phone notes and memoranda.
Since the agency is keeping all the drawings and specifications we are just concerned right now with the textual project files.
The records consist of project files of construction of new prison units and additions and renovations to existing prison units. The records are dated about 1983 to about 2000. Types of records include proposals, bid documents (have initial specifications), progress reports (daily, weekly, monthly), change orders, proposed change orders, logs, transmittals, requests for information, punch lists, claims against contracts, contracts, photographs, videos, meeting minutes, correspondence, memoranda, field orders, requests for time extensions, vouchers, schedules, cost estimates, pay estimates, a few detail drawings, inspection reports, test reports, project budget worksheets, and litigation settlement information. Correspondents include staff of the TDCJ Facilities Division, contractors/subcontractors, architects, engineers, and manufacturing companies. Types of work done include construction of new prison units, state jails and transfer facilities; additions of cell blocks, medical units, water wells, or other additions to existing units; renovation of staff housing, dorm areas, kitchen and dining areas, rodeo areas, law library, medical units, and other facilities; repair (or additions) to roads, roofs, sewage and wastewater facilities, water tanks, HVAC units; and electrical and plumbing work done in many of the facilities.
Building construction project files document work that went into the planning, design and construction of buildings.
"An Act to Establish a State Penitentiary" was passed in 1848 by the Second Legislature. The act established a governing body of the penitentiary as a three-member Board of Directors, appointed by the Governor, with the approval of the Senate. The Board was responsible for creating and distributing a set of rules and bylaws for the administration of the penitentiary, overseeing the treatment of convicts, preparing an annual inventory of property, and making an annual report to the Governor. Over the years, the name and composition of the Board changed. While its basic functions were not greatly altered, some duties were added. These included acquiring land for the Huntsville and Rusk facilities, purchasing machinery, effecting repairs, leasing the penitentiaries, leasing convicts for outside labor, purchasing and/or leasing farms for the employment of convicts, and providing for the transfer of convicts from county jails to the penitentiary. During the 19th century the direct management of the prison was through the inspector, later known as the superintendent. Other officers included assistant superintendents, inspectors of outside camps, the financial agent, and physicians. The superintendent and financial agent had the most direct dealings with the Board and the Governor in the management of the prison system.
The prison system began as a single institution, located in Huntsville, known as the Huntsville Penitentiary. Convicts were put to work in various shops and factories housed within the institution. In 1871, the legislature directed that the penitentiary be leased to private individuals (Chapter 21, 12th Legislature, 1st Called Session). These men, known as lessees, paid the state for the convict labor and use of facilities, and in turn, managed the system, including clothing and feeding the convicts and paying the guards. It was during this period that the outside camp system was firmly established as part of the prison system. In addition to the use of convicts in and around the prison, the convicts were hired out to large labor employers, mainly plantation owners and railroad companies. A second prison facility, Rusk Penitentiary, was built between 1877 and 1882. It began receiving convicts in January of 1883.
In 1881, the Legislature reorganized the prison system, abolishing the Board of Directors, and creating in its place a Penitentiary Board, consisting of the governor, the state treasurer, and the prison superintendent (Chapter 49, 17th Legislature, Regular Session). In April 1883, the administrative system was again reorganized, with the board comprised of the governor and two commissioners appointed by the governor (Chapter 114, 18th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1885, the board composition changed once more, now consisting of three commissioners appointed by the governor (House Bill 562, 19th Legislature, Regular Session). This board was succeeded by the Board of Prison Commissioners in 1910, which was composed of three commissioners appointed by the governor (Senate Bill 10, 31st Legislature, 4th Called Session). The legislation that created the new board also directed the prison system to begin operating again on state account, i.e., lessees no longer managed the prison system, effective in January 1911. Convicts, or inmates, were housed and worked in one of the two prisons or on one of several state prison farms. The shop industries slowed down while the prison farms expanded. This arrangement made it more difficult to provide education and other reform measures. Such measures were generally practiced at Huntsville, with some teaching extended to a couple of prison farms by the early 1900s.
The Texas Prison Board replaced the Board of Prison Commissioners as the governing body for the Texas Prison System in 1927, increasing in size to nine members (House Bill 59, 40th Legislature, Regular Session). The members of the board were appointed by the governor, with senate approval, to six year overlapping terms. The Board formulated the policies and the manager carried them out. During the Board's tenure, 1927-1957, the Board made changes in the system including more emphasis on prison reform, teaching, recreation--including the establishment of the Texas Prison Rodeo--and a new method of classifying inmates. The Texas Prison System became the Department of Corrections in 1957 (Senate Bill 42, 55th Legislature, Regular Session). This Department was governed by the Board of Corrections, composed of nine members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate to six year overlapping terms.
In 1989, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the Board of Criminal Justice were created (House Bill 2335, 71st Legislature, Regular Session). The Board is composed of nine members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate to six year overlapping terms. The governor may not appoint more than two members who reside in an area encompassed by the same administrative judicial region. This new agency absorbed the functions of three agencies: the Department of Corrections, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the Texas Adult Probation Commission.
As of 2006, divisions of the Department of Criminal Justice are the Parole Division, the Community Justice Assistance Division (former Adult Probation Commission), Correctional Institutions Division, Correctional Managed Health Care, Executive Services (Public Information Office and the Research, Evaluation and Development Group), Health Services Division, Human Resources Division, Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Inspector General, Rehabilitation and Reentry Programs Division, State Counsel for Offenders, Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments, Victim Services Division, Internal Audit, and the Windham School District. Direct management of the prison system is through an executive director, with each division headed by a director and each individual prison unit managed by a warden.
The Facilities Division duties include facility planning, design, construction, maintenance, and environmental quality assurance and compliance. The Facilities Division headquarters is located in Huntsville but has maintenance employees working at state owned and operated facilities throughout the state. The Engineering Department provides professional engineering and architectural support to the agency. The engineers, architects and project administrators assigned to the Engineering Department perform oversight, design, and construction operations as well as act as consultants for the Maintenance Department, and any other office requiring technical assistance. The Maintenance Department maintains all facilities owned and operated by the TDCJ. Maintenance departments are located on each unit operated by the Agency. Headquarters staff is responsible for assisting in the maintenance and repair process by providing technical guidance, training and supervision to unit maintenance staff, by organizing projects constructed by the Maintenance Department, assisting in reducing energy consumption and developing procedural guidance for maintenance.
(Sources: Various editions of the Guide to Texas State Agencies, the website of the Dept. of Criminal Justice (http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/index.htm; accessed September 7, 2006), and the records themselves.)
According to agency staff, files are arranged by project or prison unit.
According to TDCJ's Office of the General Counsel these records are confidential under (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.108) because of security issues - some items (plans and drawings mainly, bid specs, etc.) show access to the prisons that could hinder law enforcement.
Indexes or finding aids required for/or an aid to access?
A database is available which provides some access to the boxes.
Boxes consist of large transfiles. Any records that would be transferred would need to be reboxed before transfer.
Known related records in other agencies:
Destruction requests on file in the Archives and Information Services Division of the Library and Archives Commission were checked none were found for this series or for equivalent or related series.
Publications based on records:
Internet pages based on records:
Series data from agency schedule; or Suggested series from state Records Retention Schedule:
Title: Project files (doc. from all Facilities dept.)
Series item number: 5.2.002
Agency item number: 17.03.03
Archival code: R
Building construction project files, about 1982-1985, about 88 cubic ft. These files are unprocessed and confidential. They are part of the series being appraised.
Files the appraisal handbook says you should keep for buildings you document are preliminary, working and as-built drawings (presentation drawings, designs, sketches, perspectives, elevations, selected details, structural drawings, plans, and site plans). Drawings of electrical, mechanical and plumbing work are optional, especially when you are faced with a large volume of material. Also to keep are photos, slides, and videos of site construction, details, and interiors. Textual records to maintain are significant consultant and client correspondence; contracts; legal records; specifications; environmental impact reports; proposals; meeting minutes; selected phone notes; selected progress, engineering, and consultant reports; some of the monthly reports; documents for final payment; public comment; published articles; records unique to particular jobs; and manufacturers brochures if product significant and used. Non-permanent records are bid sets, duplicate drawings, duplicate photographs, superseded construction drawings, daily and weekly reports, change orders, transmittals, financial records, and non-substantial phone notes and memoranda. Since the agency is keeping all the drawings and specifications we are just concerned right now with the textual project files.
This is a massive amount of material and we cannot keep all of it. The most significant items for all projects are the drawings and specifications, which are being maintained by the agency for the life of the asset and they do have an archival code of R for our eventual archival review and transfer. We will work with the agency to keep complete project files on two or three prototype units and files on other units, if any, that are truly unique from the prototype. The Archives does not want files for routine repairs and renovations (kitchens, dining areas, staff housing, water tanks, electrical and plumbing work, roof repairs, work on water tanks and water wells, HVAC units, etc.) We do want to keep project files of additions of new cellblocks or other buildings to the older facilities as deemed significant by the staff (perhaps medical facilities, new law library, etc.), especially additions to the oldest twelve facilities in the system (listed in the project review section). Once the files are transferred here we could weed them to keep specifically what is recommended in the appraisal manual, but for now we should just take the files of projects I have mentioned. I do not know the exact number, but I am guessing this will result in somewhere between 100 and 150 cubic ft., maybe less, possibly a little more. And, of the in-house files, the State Archives is keeping the project files for the construction of Ellis II, a unit built in the early-mid 1980s. There are project files for construction of this unit, though the files may not document all of the buildings. One of its unique features is a large regional medical facility that is not present in most units. The files for this unit, renamed the Estelle Unit, comprise about 36 cubic ft. without weeding.
The staff in Huntsville will need to rebox the files we request into cubic ft. boxes as we will not accept any more transfiles. There is the issue of needing all the files in cases such as the attorney general litigation ongoing right now, however, we can't physically maintain all the files, and I think litigation issues such as those are few and far between. The prison unit in question in that case is about 12 years old and they maintain files for at least 10 years after completion of the unit. Most of the files we would be getting are from the mid1980s-early 1990s and are 10-20 years old. The staff said they would work with us to select the most appropriate units to document if we decide on this sampling strategy. Because of the volume of the material to be transferred to the State Archives and our current shortage of storage space (construction of new stack floors will start in early 2007), the agency needs to transfer the records to our storage facility in Austin, the State Records Center. Directions for such transfers are on the website of the Texas State Library, bookmarked in the section - Services to government agencies, Records Center Services - (http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/storage/index.html).
Regarding the scanning of files from 2002 forward, the agency needs to continue to migrate the scans to upgraded hardware and software every two or three years to maintain the integrity of the scans and fulfill the archival requirements. Keep the archival review code of "R" on the retention schedule and add a note to the Remarks column: "The project files of selected construction projects may be transferred to the State Archives upon review of the files and in consultation with staff of the Facilities Division."
Regarding the files of Texas Youth Commission facilities, TDCJ staff should contact TYC staff before making any decisions about the disposition of these files. It could be that TYC has their own set of files, but TYC needs to be informed of the existence of these particular building construction project files.