Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tuesday morning news roundup

Here's a quick roundup of criminal-justice related news items that deserve Grits readers' attention:

Top Bexar Sheriff's Aide Accused of Corruption
In San Antonio the longtime campaign manager and former chief of staff to Sheriff Ralph Lopez has been accused of taking kickbacks from the jail commissary after he'd voted to award it to the company as a member of a nonprofit board. To read this SA Express News article, it's amazing John Reynolds continues to be given powerful posts in government - as corruption allegations go, this ain't his first rodeo.

New Laws Help Manage Prison Pop
A good article in the Lufkin Daily News gives an overview of legislation passed aimed at managing the Texas prison population.

Jail Inmates Clean Up Weather Devastation
In the wake of devastating rain, wind and flooding, the "Coryell County Sheriff's Department has provided the work services of jail inmates to assist overburdened city crews." In Blanco County storms tore the roof off the jail, but no one was injured or tried to escape.

Thousands of Texas Children Sent to Disciplinary Schools
More than 100,000 Texas students were assigned to alternative disciplinary schools last year, two-thirds of them for nonviolent offenses, says this report from the Epoch Times.
"The children are sent there for breaking school rules," says Lynda Frost, associate director at the Hogg Mental Health Foundation. "Some of [the rules] are required by Texas law, but most are sent at the school's discretion." And these tactics are being used with very young kids. "Pasadena ISD in the last five years sent 100 kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students and over 400 first-grade students" to alternative disciplinary settings.

Prosecutors' Water Boy Mucking 10th Court Collegiality
According to the Bryan College-Station Eagle, Judge Larry Gray on the 10th Court of Appeals in Waco "routinely takes increasingly personal and vitriolic potshots at the other two justices on the court ... calling into question the impartiality of justice." Gray writes more dissents than any appellate judge in the state, said the Eagle, and he "using them more and more to criticize personally the other two justices on his court. A story by a Waco reporter said Gray uses terms such as 'schizophrenic,' 'irrational' and 'unlawful' in his dissents. He has called opinions by Vance and Reyna similar to a 'mediocre law-review article' and compared their work to that of a 'first-year law student.'" Though you can't tell from the Eagle article, it turns out Gray is carrying the prosecutors' water on the 10th court of appeals, as evidenced by this DA comment string where prosecutors fawn over his dissenting opinions, criticize the media for running the story and one ADA announces "we owe Gray a lot."

Rent-A-Jail Scheme Fails to Cash In
When Bowie County built a much larger jail than they needed in Texarkana, they did so under the assumption they could make a profit leasing space for inmates from other jurisdictions. About half the beds in the Bowie County jail are rented out, generating $5.2 million in income last year, according to an audit. But expenses increased more than $6 million over the same period, mostly due to increased costs from out of county jail inmates.

Jail Happenings
In a privately run jail in Beaumont, a federal inmate used a fake gun to hold two people hostage yesterday before he finally gave himself up. The privately run facility is actually inside the Jefferson County courthouse and is operated by the GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut. Another federal inmate last week made it to the roof of the Cameron County Jail in an escape attempt before being captured. Guadalupe County (Seguin) also saw a short-lived escape last week, and another inmate the day before freed himself from his handcuffs and temporarily escaped a sheriff's deputy. Guadalupe Sheriff Arnold Zwicke said jail overcrowding played a role. Meanwhile, in the Collin County Jail, an "inmate died after being restrained by officers over the weekend and another remains hospitalized after a suicide attempt, jail officials said." In Caldwell County, a woman arrested for public intoxication (she was a passenger in a car where the driver was arrested for DWI) was recently found dead in her jail cell.

Stop Snitching Resonates in Military
If you think the "no snitching" code is just for rappers, gang bangers and police enforcing the "blue wall of silence," check this out: According to the Army Times, a "survey of 1,800 troops who had served in Iraq found that 45 percent of enlisted soldiers and 60 percent of Marines would not report a comrade for injuring or killing an innocent civilian." Yikes! I knew most Americans won't snitch on co-workers, but that's pretty heavy. In other snitching-related news, using a set of arguments that reminds me a lot of propaganda from the East German Stasi, this column from Accuracy in Media announces that "the central role of the informant has become a cornerstone of our security."


Anonymous said...

Hi Scott, this is Mirla I hope you are in good health.

Just wanted to add to your post about Texas children being sent to alternative schools.

This is a issue growing fast, and though the problem is the initial action taken the problem that should interest more is that once these kids come of of the alternative school and join the regular children become more likely to commit some kind of offense. I say this from experience with several young kids that have had to go through this process.

Not only that but the school authorities don't hesitate to take a small incident into drastic proportions and in many cases even sending the kids to jevenile centers without the consent of the family, and thus living them in limbo into how to get their kids out.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hi Mirla, I'm so glad to hear from you! Kathy asked the other day if I knew how you were, and we both hope you're well and happy. Thanks for the comments, and drop me a line sometime to let me know what you're up to!

Anonymous said...

OH MY! FIRE THE SHERIFF AND HIS SO CALLED BUDDY REYNOLDS! ALL CROOKS! FROM DAY ONE! C-MON REED PUT EM IN JAIL AND THROW THE KEY AWAY! There are hundreds of offenders that dont do pennys compared to what they have done. Yea the sheriff will stand by him cause he is the main source!!! If he dont, then Reynolds will SNITCH!!!! dumb a@##@#@s Cmon voters-vote him out and lets get another honest SHERIFF. Its so sick how they get away with such crime! But there is a Good Lord up there and there time is coming!!!YALL MAKE ME SICK!

Anonymous said...

This is Mirla again,

I don't have your personal email anymore just your old one that doesn't seem to work. Please send me an email so I can get it.


Anonymous said...

Considering these military people work for the most untrustworthy President/Vicepresident in some time, why are you suprised they don't trust to be treated fairly?