Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pretrial diversion = Erath County's overincarceration solution

West of Fort Worth in Erath County (county seat is Stephenville), officials are hiring a new "pretrial release officer" to resolve their local jail overcrowding problems (Stephenville Empire-Tribune, "County addresses jail overcrowding," Nov. 1).
In an effort to address the growing jail population, county officials developed the new position, which is primarily responsible for processing non-violent inmates who can’t afford bond, out of the county jail at a faster rate.

[Newly hired pretrial release officer Weldon] Wilson said the program is designed to reduce jail overcrowding and save the county money on indigent inmates.

“The way the program is set up, I will interview new arrestees within the first 48 hours of their arrest to assess their status and discuss bonding with them,” Wilson said. “It’s important to get these people back to work as fast as we can — instead of just allowing them to sit in jail at taxpayer’s expense.”
I've argued previously that excessive pretrial detention is perhaps the primary driver of Texas' statewide overincarceration crisis in its county jails, see also here, here, here, and here. Maybe the bigger counties want to keep endlessly building new jails, but some of the smaller ones may prefer to get smarter instead of tougher, especially if tougher means raising taxes.


Anonymous said...

I am one individual who should be an elected spokesperson on how the Tarrant County Criminal Justice System and how the bond program works. I think now when I look for employment I should list on my resume Tarrant Country Jail as my last two years employment. Charged with a Felony for taking a controlled substance from father who at the time had just had a quad bypass and myself calling the police,well that didnt due much i went to jail for having possession so put into the system of bond probation which is saying your guilty before even going to court. I paid monthly prob. fees and took UA's daily,then 3x wk,then court to get deferred to continue probation.Now one month before getting off probation I all of a suddent became the worst probationer and had all these violation I never knew about.Year and 1/2 into probation misunderstanding awaiting trial came up which associated $132,000 in bonds-5 at $25.000 and initial arrest at $7000.I didnt murder,hurt another,endanger community,not a drug crime,its a misunderstood work issue thats non violent.Now 1mo end of prob.I violated so recieved another $5000.Then again bond report and UA's 2x/wk.see bond off.and ua only 2nd day.1st report thurs next appt mon.Oh but since prior was short wk they came up w/that they said had to go fri since didnt get 2 in at start of prior week.Mon bond probation reported and told violated.Arrested back in jail-bond revoke. Now to get bond moved to $25,000. Now I have $157000 in bonds.You could murder someone and be out on less than this.All family live in Tarrant,born and raised here.Where am I going. I now report daily to UA to bond and told Friday I UA'ed at wrong location.What will bond be now.I have lost my job of 15yrs,can't go back to my career,have went into forclosure,Chapter13,my children are being put in counciling scared their parent will not come home,were straight A students now having problem and due to the stress my marriage of 16yrs went all the way to dirvorce court and we tore up papers in front of the judge.Not to mention an arrest during two yrs probation because bond officer thought my Dr. Medical narritive was not good enough for her.How much money can they just keep taking.Now I will be an indegent case.If I was such a threat to society why am I walking around with these type of bond fees.This is Crazy and out of control. The Felony would have been easier,but wanted my right to vote and was trying to help a family member. Concerned Tax Payer

Anonymous said...

Excuse a few errors in typing from original post above. Respects Given to the one's who are trying to change things.