Members of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas discussed varying issues with their respective senators and representatives about bills they consider important, including issues of:Looking at that list, for starters I wonder how much more damage the Sheriffs hope to do on the methamphetamine front? If they're not there to promote drug courts and treatment, IMO they're almost certainly pushing to make things worse. Clearly they don't know what they're doing on that score, or their big War on Sniffles last session would have worked.
Painter spoke to Sen. Kel Seliger specifically about the Blue Warrant inmates in Texas county jails. “It’s about being able to allow parolees kept for technical issues to bond out of the county jail. The county jail is being used as a sanction facility until they have their hearing, which could be from three to six months,” he said.
- Blue Warrant inmates in Texas county jails.
- Funding for MHMR, TDCJ and mental health services and the mental health patients impact on county jails.
- Methamphetamine manufacture, dealing and abuse.
- Texas Border Security.
- The abolishment or elimination of county elected offices.
- Annual pay supplement for deputy sheriffs and sheriffs and a minimum entry pay for peace officers.
I'm with 'em on the mental health issue, and they have a new ally in Advocacy Inc., too. I hope they get the beds they need to treat mentally ill defendants who've been declared incompetent to stand trial.
Regular readers know all they want on borders security is money, and that what's been spent so far had no effect on crime. They haven't spent what they've gotten already accountably, while I've argued that the money should be spent first to combat the mounting wave of law enforcement corruption on the border.
Finally, I've always laughed when counties complain about blue warrants as an "unfunded mandate" to the counties. That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard. Let me respond, "Pot, meet kettle. I think you'll have a lot in common!"
For starters, the state must accept these blue warrant prisoners within 45 days after they are "paper ready," and the last I heard the average wait time was less than three weeks. But that ignores the bigger hypocrisy: The funding of Texas' criminal justice system - and I suppose in most states - is really a giant unfunded mandate in the other direction, from cities and counties to state government via the prison system.
Cops and sheriffs who work for municipalities and counties make the arresting decisions, county prosecutors decide what to charge, and locally elected judges (and in rare instances, juries) are ultimately responsible sentencing. All those are local government actors. But the cost of incarceration is borne by the state. So local prosecutors who are super aggressive on lower level charges like John Bradley in Williamson County or Chuck Rosenthal in Harris actually cost the state a disproportionate amount compared to other counties, as do hang-em-high judges seeking to prove their "tuffness" as credentials for higher office.
Make me philosopher king and I'd require each county to repay the state for at least a portion of the cost for everyone it elects to imprison. (The magnitude of that imagined debt dwarfs the petty issue of blue warrants by a country mile.) Right now local taxpayers are artificially insulated from the decisions of local criminal justice officials, so prosecutors and judges can be "tuff" in their campaigns and in the courtroom without ever being held accountable for the fiscal consequences.
That's a fantasy, and would require reworking the state constitution to accomplish. But just contemplating such a pay as you go arrangement shows what a small issue blue warrants are in the scheme of things, and how hollow the Sheriffs' cries of injustice sound on the matter.
There are things the Legislature could do to reduce county jail overcrowding that would help far more than anything they could possibly accomplish on blue warrants, if they had the gumption. More on that topic perhaps soon.