By Lauren Cabral

The Cove Herald

The layoff of 555 Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees will not affect Gatesville's five prison units, according to Michelle Lyons, director of public information for the department.

"At this point it will be a very minimum effect on Gatesville because the positions that are being eliminated are non-unit positions," Lyons said. "Individual units aren't seeing an impact."

She added the sectors of the department taking the hit are the business and finance sectors, human resources and general counsel.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice plans to save money by eliminating 555 non-guard jobs and changing the menu for inmates, cutting back on dessert and substituting powdered milk.

The layoffs, effective April 15, come as states agencies trim their current spending while lawmakers face the prospect of a shortfall of $15 billion in the next two-year budget period.

At all units, inmates will no longer get cartons of milk. Powdered milk has been used at state jails and transfer facilities since 2003, Lyons said.

Dessert servings will be reduced to one per inmate per week, from two. Cooks will substitute sliced bread for hamburger and hot dog buns. Offenders at state jails and transfer facilities on Saturdays and Sundays will get brunch and dinner, not three meals.

A legislative budget proposal calls for cutting nearly 1,600 jobs in the prison system, which holds almost 156,000 inmates in more than 100 facilities.

Gatesville is home to the female Christina Melton Crain, Hilltop, Lane Murray and Mountain View units, as well as the male Alfred D. Hughes Unit

. The five units employed 2,468 people as of July 31, 2010, and their combined total capacity is 6,697, according to the TDCJ website.

Contact Lauren Cabral at or (254) 501-7476. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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