Working for a railroad, I see piles of those tie plates all the time. They make an enticing target for scrap metal thieves. I think that the scrap yards classify them as “short steel” which sells for a better price per pound.
Unscrupulous scrap dealers could care less where the material comes from. As long as the cops don’t show up and know what they’re looking for, they’ll buy metal from anyone. It all goes into the furnaces in china anyways.
Screw that. Remodel the Texas prisons to be like south american prisons. No roofs, a hole in the floor for a toilet, and some straw for a bed. Oh, and a bucket of water a day for drinking and bathing.
Don’t forget to revert back to pre-early 20th century “reforms” too. No talking or communication amongst prisoners, hard labor for sustenance, and the prisoners have to be self sufficient. No food, clothing, or supplies from the outside unless paid for with sweat equity.
These people are in prison for a reason, and it isn’t to be pampered.
Make life in prison a living hell, and you will see just uow fast the recidivism rate drops.