Texas inmates pooled $53,863 from their commissary accounts. Then they gave it away.

Inmates in Texas prisons raised almost $54,000 for Hurricane Harvey victims.
Inmates in Texas prisons raised almost $54,000 for Hurricane Harvey victims. Star-Telegram archives

Texas inmates were behind bars, but some still reached out to Hurricane Harvey victims.

Thousands of prisoners recently pulled money out of their commissary accounts — which hold funds they use to buy items ranging from snacks to paper — and gave it to the American Red Cross.

Overall, 6,663 inmates donated money between Aug. 31 and Sept. 30, raising more than $50,000, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said.

Some donated $1 or so. Others donated hundreds.

But this isn’t the first time the inmates have raised money for storm victims.

The first was after Hurricane Katrina. The second was after Hurricane Rita. And each of those efforts raised more than $40,000 from inmates.

This year for Hurricane Harvey, inmates raised $53,863.

“We mailed a check to Red Cross earlier this week,” Clark said.

Checking in after Maria

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, recently visited Puerto Rico to see how bad medical facilities were damaged after recent hurricanes.

“I am deeply concerned about the medical system in Puerto Rico as it recovers from the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria,” said Burgess, who leads the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. “I heard from physicians, nurses, and hospital administrators about their concerns for Puerto Rico’s medical infrastructure.

“I want to ensure the subcommittee will do its job to help our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.”

Protecting Texas

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, is among those who will try to find ways to shore up cybersecurity efforts in Texas.

Nelson was recently tapped to lead the Senate Select Committee on Cybersecurity, a team that will evaluate security plans for each state agency and suggest ways to make them safer.

“Our state agencies store a great deal of sensitive information, so it is vitally important that we secure our networks, computers, and data. Given the rising threats that exist, we need to assess our vulnerabilities and protect our state against cyber attacks,” said Nelson, whose district includes parts of Tarrant County.

State Sens. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, and Borris Miles, D-Houston, also will serve on the committee.

Getting ready

Texans will head to the polls Nov. 7 to weigh in on a slew of constitutional amendments and a variety of local issues.

Early voting runs from Oct. 23-Nov. 3.

Soon after that, candidates running for political posts next year will have a chance to file to put their names on the ballot. The first day to file to be on the 2018 ballot is Nov. 11. The last day is Dec. 11.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley