Now, reports Ward, Texas will build new prisons whether incarceration rates require them or not. The DAs are already gloating. Here's Ward's update:
In a backroom deal between who and who?! I want to know: Was there ever a vote among conferees on the topic, and if so who voted how? I'd heard rumors the changes were made without a formal vote, but somebody needs to explain the process by which conferees decided to strip ALL accountability mechanisms out of a quarter billion dollars in spending for prison construction.
Late word: The long-discussed restrictions on building new Texas prisons have suddenly disappeared.
First-available copies of the proposed state budget are missing a provision that would have placed constraints on prison officials before they could build new units. Such things as the effectiveness of diversion programs, paroles rates and other factors, plus review and approval by the Legislative Budget Board, would have to have been considered.
A disappointed Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, who had championed the changes as a way to support cheaper and more effective drug-treatment and rehabilitation programs, reported just a few ago: “All the qualifiers have been stripped out of the budget.”
“Now, all that will have to happpen is to get (Legislative Budget Board) approval,” he said.
And that much-ballyhooed, new Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Board that was supposed to help ride closer herd on the adult prison system and the scandal-racked Texas Youth Commission?
It’s funding has been cut to zero.
Legislation creating the board is in a Senate-House conference committee. Stay tuned to see whether it gets cuts, as well.
Prison officials have been arguing against it. Prosecutors have been arguing against any new hurdles to build new prisons. Senate and House criminal justice leaders had been pushing for both.
Somewhere, in a backroom deal in recent days, they disappeared without explanation.
The House approved no prisons. The Senate approved prisons with strings attached. So how do we get from there to new prisons with no strings attached? Like Ward said, "Somewhere, in a backroom ..."
Damnit to hell! Have I mentioned that I H-A-T-E May of odd numbered years?