Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Probation Officers for Public Safety

Under the rubric of POs for Public Safety (POPS), Dallas County probation officers have put up a website supporting a half dozen candidates for local district judge slots.

I wouldn't normally mention a campaign website, but this one includes an excellent resource page concerning the need to strengthen probation, even including a couple of links to Grits posts. If you're interested in the subject, I'd encourage you to go check out the links.

The thrust of POPS gripe appears to be that high caseloads filled with nonviolent offenders are making it difficult or impossible to supervise more dangerous ones, a familiar refrain to Grits readers. POPS also complains that sitting judges in Dallas aren't meeting with law enforcement stakeholders through the Communicty Justice Council, as required under state law:
Texas Government Code 76.003 requires the judges to create a Community Justice Council, made up of representatives from the police department, school district, city council, sheriff’s department, state legislators, and county commissioners, to monitor the probation department’s effectiveness and provide policy guidance. The Community Justice Council has not met in at least three years to develop a meaningful plan. Source: Dallas Morning News, August 7, 2005
It's not unusual for public employees to participate in the electoral processes that affect them. I do find it interesting that POPS promotes so many of the same reforms - shortening probation lengths, strengthening supervision, focusing resources on more serious offenders - that the Legislature passed and Governor Perry vetoed last year.

The folks on the front lines of the probation system obviously know what the problems are - maybe they're right that this crop of judges would fix them. For my part, I wish the Governor had.

6 comments:

kaptinemo said...

I am not a specialist on the issues regarding probation, nor would I pretend to be; this is the bailiwick of those best equipped by knowledge and experience to deal with. But having said that, in general, I've found that when the troops in the trenches grumble louder than usual about something not working, it's wise of the generals to take notice. This sounds a lot like that to me...

Anonymous said...

Wow, these guys really are on your message! I've kind of taken all your "stronger probation" stuff with a grain of salt, but if probation officers themselves support it, it can't be that radical. Very interesting to see ACLU and corrections officers supporting the same things.

800 pound gorilla said...

Actually "radical" is a good thing. It means going to the base or "root" of a problem to find real solutions. The lapdogs in the media love the status quo with all its corruption so when someone advocates a solution addressing inherent problems they associate that someone with someone else who commits acts of violence against innocent people. Radicals get the bad name from false associations - a favorite tactic of chronic abusers. Once you get a false association widely accepted you then give the public false choices: a corrupt evil system or people harming innocent people. Since people are inherently suspicious of change and are educated to think well within the box, corrupt evil systems always win.

Anonymous said...

I have seen what these officers go through and I for one, would never do the things that are asked of these officers on a daily basis. The Judges and top administrators don't understand or don't care about the lack of sefety and dangerous situations that they place these officers in, and expect them to do their job in a "professional manner". I worked as a probation officer for a short time and believe that if things do not change, an officer is going to get hurt or killed. The sitting Judges need to be knocked off their high horses and shown what it is like to be in the trenches, and real world probation. I, for one, am voting for the names mentioned in POP's. I hope a change is near for the probation officers that are trying to make a difference and make my city a safer one.

Anonymous said...

If any probation directors are reading this, ARM YOUR OFFICERS ! How dumb do you have to be? Your making your officers deal with dangerous FELONY offenders. Parole Officers, Police Officers, and even Security Officers are armed, but yet we are not professional enough to protect ourselves? Shame on you and the Judges in question. Go POPS.

Anonymous said...

Please come to Bexar County and help us with your expertise in dealing with a group of judges and a chief who don't care!