Janice Harris Lord worked for many years for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (that should make Robert Guest happy) and told the Fort Worth Star Telegram she sees her role on the board as "to present the victims' perspective in criminal justice issues."
A trial lawyer, a businessman and a social worker were appointed by Gov. Rick Perry on Monday to the nine-person Texas Board of Criminal Justice, which oversees the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The appointees are: R. Terrell McCombs of San Antonio, who is vice president of McCombs Enterprises and a nephew of auto magnate B.J. "Red" McCombs; Eric Gambrell of Highland Park, who is a trial partner with the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld; and Janice Harris Lord of Arlington, who is a social worker and national consultant on crime victim issues.
McCombs touted his lack of criminal justice experience as a plus.
"I'm open-minded and business-minded. My hope is to make (the prison agency) run more efficiently."
One wonders what experience Gambrell, a trial lawyer from Highland Park (an exclusive, wealthy enclave entirely surrounded by the City of Dallas) brings to the table? According to his biography at Akin Gump, he "represents businesses and high-net-worth individuals in aggressively prosecuting their claims and defending their interests." Not a lot of those in TDCJ.
Similarly, I couldn't help but be reminded of Perry's ill-suited appointments to run the Texas Youth Commission when I read that GOP superdonor "Red" McCombs' nephew was one of the picks, telling the Chronicle that the fact that he had no experience at all in corrections was his biggest asset. As at TYC, apparently the Governor sees having zero experience in the area for which they're responsible as a key requirement for his criminal justice appointees. Perhaps that's because people with any experience in the field tend to disagree with his policies.
TDCJ's problems don't stem from a lack of business-like efficiency. They arise from understaffing, low pay, poor working conditions, poor inmate health care, failure to fund programming to reduce recidivism, and a variety of other troubles that need leadership from professionals who know what they're doing.
These appointments suit the Governor's political interests much more than they do the agency's management and oversight needs in the face of looming challenges.