Records Appraisal Report:
Department of Criminal Justice
(formerly the Department of Corrections)
Facilities Division (formerly the Construction Division)
Sunset Self-evaluation Working Files of the Construction Division

Contents of this report
Agency Contact | Record Series Review

Internal links to series reviews
Sunset self-evaluation working files of the Construction Division

Related report
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

Agency Contact

None, records are at the Archives.

Records Series Review

Series Title: Sunset self-evaluation working files of the Construction Division

Agency holdings: Unknown.

Project review:
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. 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 series review concerns the Sunset Commission self-evaluation files.

These are working files of the Texas Department of Corrections Construction Division reflecting work done by the Division in preparation for a Sunset Commission evaluation of the agency. Records are dated about 1983-about 1986. The records consist of drafts of self-evaluation report components, internal memos, testimony, notes, proposed area of focus, internal reports, external reports, a presentation to the Sunset Commission, memos re: answers to Sunset Commission questions, tasks and subtask descriptions, work plans, excerpts from division policy and procedure manuals, a compiled list of construction reports for the Sunset Commission, and a draft of the Construction Division Procurement Planning System Conceptual Design Report. Other internal reports present include the Texas Department of Corrections 10 Year Facilities Study, Executive Summary - preliminary; Strengthening Texas Department of Criminal Justice Management Effectiveness, Facilities Study (1983); Construction Division Position Descriptions and Recommendations; Construction Division Management Accounting System; Review of Certain Architectural Contracts; Report of Environmental Health and Safety Conditions at TDC Facilities; Remedial Actions to Reduce Unnecessary Use of Force; and the Construction Division Comprehensive Job Status Report (3 volume set). External reports include State of Texas Comprehensive Criminal Justice Plan (1985); Report of Agriculture Program of TDC (by the Texas Agriculture Experiment Station); an Analysis of Actions on Agencies Under Sunset Review; and the two-volume Sunset Self-Evaluation Report.

Construction projects had a significant impact during this period in the agency's history on actions of the agency. During the mid 1980s overcrowding was a major issue of the agency and steps were taken to correct it, including building additions to existing facilities and building new facilities. Other issues involving the Construction Division during this evaluation included inmate training and work programs. These were areas of concern by this division because it operated work-training programs for inmates in the construction job field and also used inmates in some construction projects as part of the inmate work programs.

Files consist of about two cubic ft.

Agency self-evaluation reports provide fundamental knowledge of a state agency in a concise, standardized format. They give the Sunset Commission members and staff a general understanding of the agency and its purpose. The working files of the agency reflect processes undergone and resources used to produce the self-evaluation report.

Agency program:
"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 (; accessed September 7, 2006), and the records themselves.)

Arranged as received, roughly by record type.

Access constraints:
None known.

Series data from agency schedule; or Suggested series from state Records Retention Schedule:
No relevant series found on the schedule.

Appraisal decision:
Agency self-evaluation reports provide fundamental knowledge of a state agency in a concise, standardized format. They give the Sunset Commission members and staff a general understanding of the agency and its purpose. The working files of the agency reflect processes undergone and resources used to produce the self-evaluation report. However, in the series being reviewed, we are only reviewing the working files for one division of the agency, albeit an important division during this time period. This lessens the archival value of the records. In our appraisal report of the Sunset Commission in the 1990s we noted that the self-evaluation reports are very important, but we could not count on always getting them from the agencies so we determined that the Sunset Commission's copies of self-evaluation reports of state agencies would be the archival copy for that particular series. Working files has not really been addressed before. I would be more inclined to keep these files if they reflected work done by the entire agency. I do see some value in documenting work done to reflect the heavy focus during this period on construction. The self-evaluation report and the annual reports of the agency do summarize work done by the division. The bulk of these materials are internal reports, half of which are cataloged in our Texas Documents Collection. We have copies the agency's self-evaluation report in the records of the Sunset Commission and the Texas Documents Collection. I do not see enough value in the remaining records to warrant their retention. I do recommend any reports not cataloged in the Documents Collection be added to either the Documents Collection or the reports series of the overall TDCJ finding aid, whichever is most appropriate.

These records were appraised as non-archival. A few of the reports will be maintain either in the Documents Collection or added to the TDCJ reports series in the finding aid.

Page last modified: August 31, 2011