Texas' Prison Agency Reportedly "Came Unglued" When Its PR Guy Talked to Press About Execution-Drug Shortage

TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston is not amused.
They don't last long these days in the media relations office at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. First, longtime public information director Michelle Lyons resigned last year after being demoted and accused of fudging her time sheets. This was after she responded to a media request from a blog critical of the department. According to the lawsuit she filed for gender discrimination, male colleagues who logged their time the same way went unpunished. The case is currently being appealed.

Her replacement, John Hurt, was a veteran flack for the Texas Department of Transportation. Relations with the brass got chilly following a frank but unsurprising interview with TIME in August about Texas' widely reported lethal-injection drug shortage. The moment the story hit the web, Hurt wasn't long for the department.

"When they found out, they positively came unglued that I did what I was getting paid for," Hurt told The Backgate, a Texas prisons blog. "They even admitted the interview read well, they just didn't want the issue in the media. They just wanted to keep issues like the CO shortage and the outdated execution drugs as far out of the media as possible."

The administration's insular, knee-jerk inclination toward opacity in media relations is troubling enough, particularly on a subject in which the horse has already long fled the barn. It's the closed-circuit culture of the TDCJ that really seemed to irk Hunt. "The (administration) suffers from intellectual incest. They all live in a little town, went to the same little college in Huntsville and are terrified of new ideas."

Ideas like, say, moving the agency headquarters to Austin instead of running Texas prisons in the same town where executions are carried out. The administration wanted no part of it. "I've never worked in a stranger place," Hurt said.

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...what else could you expect...Texas Department of Corrupted Justice...they do not help fix the social problems they were set up to fix...80 per cent of the folks who get released go back to prison...the baby criminals go to prison to learn how to become professionals...instead of rehabilitation, the prisoners get criminal education and raped....hardly anyone goes to prison unless they cannot afford good lawyers...tdcj is just useless - except that it does provide an income to those who work there and invest in the industry...the prison industrial complex has been growing by leaps and bounds for years...

scottindallas topcommenter

please, tell me which five lifers you'd parole in order to afford these profligate death penalty shows? 

bmarvel topcommenter

His mistake was assuming that he was being paid for telling the truth. Or even telling anything at all.


@scottindallas Start in the geriatric wards. Those people cost the state a fortune and in more than a few cases they've long ago ceased to be a threat.

observist topcommenter

@gritsforbreakfast1 @scottindallas  Correct.  We need to keep them in prison until their healthcare get expensive, then push them back out on the street.  How do we expect our private prison contractors to make money if they have to provide geriatric care?

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