I live in a "transfer facility" known as the Choice Moore Unit, in Bonham Texas. This facility houses 1,200 prisoners in eighteen 68-man dorms. Being that this is a transfer facility, people will stay here about 2 years before we are actually integrated into the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's prison system. This facility is known as a "farm" because it's main operation is the farming fields around our facility. The majority of the prisoners work either in the fields, kitchen, laundry, or go to school.
There are only a few classes here, and all of them are not vocational. The classes provided are: cognitive thinking changes, GED, and voyagers (which is a religious class). The rest of the jobs here are: supply room, kennel/horse worker (for trustees), dorm janitor, administration helper, inmate commissary, and that's about all. None of these jobs pay us and from what I understand, TDCJ does not pay any money to prisoners. The TDCJ pays us by gaining us "good time" credits and "worktime" credits.
People in the TDCJ system are really forced to work, and here's why: If a person refuses to work, they get a written major case for not working. Once brought to a disciplinary hearing and found guilty, you lose commissary privileges, recreation privileges, and go down in line class status (line class is what gives you privileges, % of work time/good time credits, and is used for classification reasons also.) If after a period of time you were assigned another job and refused to work again, you would be written up for a major case again and the consequences continue to get worse. If continued refusal to work happens, you may end up on a max unit in the "hole" doing all your sentence. Here's another aspect of what happens to us here. Any major or minor case will be forwarded to your parole board. The parole board uses major cases (any case whether petty or not) to give offenders one year set offs, up to 3 year set offs, until they can be up for parole again. So basically any case write-up in here is like being sentenced another year.
Let's say I make 100% of my work time credits and I go up for parole and never had a write up for misbehavior. Now I get a 2 year set off from parole, even with no cases and 100% of my work credit done. Now let's say a guy had 30% work time, 25% good time credit and 2 major cases and he's up for parole. Somehow they let him go home on parole. Parole here does what it wants and all the good time and work time is just for show on paper. They do not actually honor it.
Now for crimes considered "aggravated," they make people do half their time before they are eligible for parole, but they do not get good time credits. They do, however, get work credits. But like I said, it's all for the look - we really don't get shit. A person can get 100% work time and be at half his sentence and not get released on parole (so there's no pay). People can have 3/4th of their sentence done flat time and have 150% work time credits, but still be made to serve all their sentence (there's no pay again). My point is, we do not actually get any pay or reward for working and are therefore slaves to this and for this system.