Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bexar probation revocations up from not using progressive sanctions

As an indication of how badly things are going at the Bexar County probation department, check out the list of problems Greg Harman at the San Antonio Current had to overlook to identify the agency's biggest problem ("Breasts, toes, and probation," Jan. 28):
How bad is it at Bexar County’s Community Supervision?

Not taking into account the administration’s unwillingness to reconsider months of revocations triggered by drug tests that were more than likely faulty — it’s bad. [See “Test-tube maybes,” October 1, 2008.]

Without even considering the persecution of a highly visible union-organizing employee and an internal clampdown on union members — it’s still bad.

Beyond the “subjective” preponderance of evidence — to which we must now add a fresh sexual-harassment suit against Probation Chief Bill Fitzgerald — some newly released numbers reveal embarrassingly serious failings in the department.

Harman explores why the Bexar County probation department has the highest revocation rates of any large county in the state:

A December 1, 2008, report to the state Legislative Budget Board by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice reveals that the number of felony revocation rates in Bexar County shot up 80 percent between 2005 and 2007. The trend is doubly worrisome because revocation rates have dropped significantly in the state’s other major metro areas. During this same time period, check: Harris County (down 13.6 percent), Dallas County (down 10.7 percent), Tarrant County (down 16.8 percent), El Paso County (down 8.4 percent), and Travis County (down 19.6 percent).

Holy urine-analysis jokes! What gives?

To make sense of the rising numbers, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice sent a team of auditors in February 2008 to dig through Bexar County Probation files. After reviewing 198 randomly selected cases, the five auditors reported back that the department’s case managers had not been trained in the basics of so-called “progressive case management” methods. Progressive case management, supposedly adopted by Bexar County in 2005, is a methodology aimed at reducing the number of probationers that end up being sent back to jail by providing case managers with a range of punishment-reward options. According to the state, this should include reduced caseloads to allow for more aggressive monitoring, use of inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment options, and options for that carrot of carrots: Early probation termination.

All departments receiving funds through CJAD are required to use progressive case management. Bexar County Probation recently received more than $6.5 million from the state for supervision and caseload reduction.

The auditors’s revocation-compliance review, released last month, also found that case officers followed the required progressive sanctions model in only 35 percent of [probation] violations that didn’t include a new arrest, and in only 23 percent of those probation revocations involving new arrests. Not only had most case workers not been trained in using progressive sanctions, managers weren’t stepping in to forge alternatives to revoking probation, the auditors wrote.

“Case files directed to courts with a [Motion to Revoke, or MTR] reflected few manager interventions when other levels of sanctions within the PSISM remained available,” the audit states.

The department’s other failings include overall poor management of case records and “conflicting practices” between Probation, district and county court-at-law judges, and the District Attorney’s office.
This news confirms my suspicion that poor departmental practices, not some untoward demographic surge in San Antonio, underlie that county's continually increasing revocation rate.

Bexar probation's poor performance could, and should, cost them hard dollars if they're not willing to use state grants for the purpose they were given:
Could Bexar County’s poor performance mean a drop in state funds, we asked CJAD Director Bonita White. “It is possible that CJAD will decrease funding for Bexar CSCD in the future,” White said. “However, our goal is to work with the Bexar CSCD to help them keep more probationers successful, and thereby truly increasing public safety.”
With a new Speaker of the Texas House from Bexar County, it's perhaps unlikely Bexar would lose funding during the 81st Legislature. But by the same token, CJAD shouldn't be forced to continually throw good money after bad. Somebody should be holding Bexar probation chief Bill Fitzgerald responsible for his department's poor performance - the judges on his governing board sure aren't doing it.

40 comments:

Don said...

Rather than reducing funding, and keeping the same incompetent management, it would seem that replacing those incompetent managers, especially Fitzgerald, would be in order. If you reduce funding and keep the same people who are causing the problem, it would make matters worse.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I 100% agree, Don. But that decision is up to the judges in Bexar County, not CJAD.

Anonymous said...

Therein lies the problem. Many Judges, and there are many, many good Judges in this state who are concerned about the quality of services provided in their departments, are not involved enough to care what goes on and will not admit they made a mistake in hiring in the first place!

Anonymous said...

The judges in Bexar are sorry and will never get rid of this chief. Maybe Straus will step in because he is making all the state reps and politicos from Bexar look sorry also. Looks like a foolish perv has taken over part of Bexar's Criminal Justice System.
Like Blago....Fitzgerald seems to not be seeing his faults? If I was Fitzgerald I would get out of Bexar before I was laughed out. I think the judges need to be held accountable. If they are his boss and have taken no action, well they need to be replaced also. This is kind of criminal.

Anonymous said...

They hired one of the auditors from CJAD refered to in the article before the audit took place. Kudo's to former auditor Lisa Mobley for doing such a good job helping on this last audit. Maybe Fitzgerald should try and get auditors who can HELP pass the audit next time. I'm so sorry the Bexar Judges cannot see they are the laughing stock of the state!

Anonymous said...

Judges are Judges I suppose. I work in Grayson County and we have the same thing going on and no one cares.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Don! The judges in Bexar must also be incompetent. Who can step in if the judges continue to waste state funding?

Don said...

To Anon. 10:10: The voters! I don't know how it is in urban Texas, but in rural Texas, nobody knows what kind of job a state District Judge does, or cares as long as there is nothing outwardly egregious going on. Once a judge gets elected, (as well as most local offices) they pretty much roll on their incumbency until they get ready to quit. (In our county, Hockley, even then it was passed down to the incumbent's son, who had been County Attorney). Most of the time, they don't even have an opponent. Until these Bexar judges start feeling some pressure from either the Lege or the electorate, nothing will change. I think Fitz is probably more stupid than corrupt, actually.

Anonymous said...

Don,

I would say more corrupt since he knew the first day that the new UA lab opened it was sending out false positives. Fitzgerald knew day one that the department was sending false results to the court and to the DA's office. He should understand the corruption of locking people up who are innocent.
Civil Rights!!!! It's way worse than you think Don. It will all come out in the wash. The longer he tries to hide all his secrets the more they bubble up one at a time.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny how you mention the union head. B.C. has like 12 unions, each with about 12 members. The union is/was useless in B.C.

Anonymous said...

Last post look at SAPD's salary and lets see how useless their Union is? Bexar County is way underpaid. They need something!!!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it’s a language barrier, I don’t think there is a good grasp on the English language comprehension in San Antonio.

Anonymous said...

The state bought Fitzgerald a fancy saddle but he has no horse. Somebody needs to check his resume.

Anonymous said...

Fitzy and Cline are certain they are going to win all five+ lawsuits. He is not a smart man. Vindictive and manipulative, but NOT SMART. Yes, CJAD is going to visit them regularly they have that right. How much money did they give them to REDUCE revocations, while keeping the public safe. I'm sure Ms. White wishes she herself could call the Judges and plead to fire them, but she has too much class.

Someone should really get in touch with the Inspector General's Office. Hey it's the State's money that is continuing to pay for those shoddy results. Moriarty
what is going on in your backyard? Money being spent to pay for faulty results, resulting in bad arrests. $10,000+ increase in salaries to keep the TEAM safe. Letty, use your bump from $64,000 to $70,000 to pay for legal fees. It is no wonder those people can't sleep at night. Money doesn't buy peace.

Simonelli doesn't get it. They want her to keep her mouth shut and stop airing their dirty laundry. She's victimizing that innocent administration. Don't worry Fitzy, Cline, Roman, Kazen all have you tagged as a loose canon. Makes you wonder what they are really hiding.

UUGGHH!!

Anonymous said...

To 1:15p.m.
Why don't you post fact?
By the way, are you on the clock at the probation department? Don't you know that Gary Porter can track you on your computer!
OR could it be you DON'T work at all????Maybe Administrator/manager with nothing to do.
The Unions in Bexar County are responsible for Bert no longer occupying the bench. And the Unions can guarantee you that no union has only 12 members! Next comes Kazen(Fire em), Harle(Make em Re-Apply), Angelini(Golf anyone), Guerrero (S.W.Airlines?), Alonzo(supervisory fees?) and the rest who DO NOTHING about this embarassment to Beaxr County, probation, corrections and REAL MEN!
By the way judges Roman/McRae, do you think that the citizens of Bexar County think its OK to send sex offenders to regular caseloads where they won't be supervised? No other Judges are that stupid are they?
You better enjoy your positions because come next election, we promise the wallets are going to let loose the cash for ANY/ALL of your opponents. Maybe even Mr.Zamora. You won't have Hillary and Obama to save your sorry rear-end next time. You shouldn't have fired Olga either ms. roman!
Can anyone explain a $10,000 raise in new budget for Director of Human Resources Leticia Esquivel when that department is cash strapped? Looks like HUSH MONEY to us!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, 9:49 Hre's the facts.....
Why did the "NOT REALLY" a doctor, a part-time contract employee get a raise to 50,000? He's already getting a FAT retirement check. Chief $139,000; Assistant Chiefs get $87,000; Director of Operations $95,000; Human Resource Director$10,000+ raise to $76,000.
More supervisors/managers/Admin than L. Caesar Garcia could have ever thought of hiring. GOD HELP US ALL!
Where are all those who promise to protect and serve while this theft of OUR taxpayer moneys is stolen??
Attorney general. Inspector general, Texas Rangers, FBI, Bexar County District Attorney where are you!
AND why is this LOSER still on the job after these allegations? Didn't he fire several employees (illegally) for less than he's accused of?

Anonymous said...

I once was somewhat proud but now have lost all respect for most in TJPC. There are a few good ones left but how has things become so far out....so criminal? We are supposed to set an example, but are looking more like TYC every day. Lets start by being truthful about what is really going on in this agency.

Anonymous said...

all i got to say is that jack ass has to go

Anonymous said...

Grits,

I was looking at the felony caseload totals for Bexar County in 2008 and they were around 140....a little more than Bonita thinks.

Anonymous said...

The budget director in Bexar County has been talking layoffs for FY 2010 unless state's funds are increased. So sorry if I was surprised to see a 20% raise for the Human Resources Director. At almost a 12,ooo dollar a year raise approved two weeks ago. She now is at 76,644. This is the biggest percentage jump Fitzgerald has ever given out.

Now, this leads me to wonder since no others got raises? Hmm....5 lawsuits pending all with Human Resources at the center. Fitzgerald wants to keep her happy right. Is this Hush money or a pay off for not being truthful.

This is way to obvious. Not enough officers to do the job but HR gets a 20% raise. Come on.....more public corruption!!!! Yes, Judges you were had!!! Judge "this is my kingdom" Alonso were you in on the take or does it just look that way?

Enough is enough with this drama from Fitzgerald and his crew!!!

Come on Judges.... What choice do you leave the probation staff with except to replace you all! The judges will most likely sit by and do nothing again!!

Is your silly infighting so childish that you cannot see the pain your probation staff is in.
We protect your orders day in and day out for little money. We are overloaded with defendants and work in filth. The probationers are treated better than the probation staff from Fitzgerald and Cline. Judges save your staff before you have to supervise your own cases because their will be no staff left soon enough.

Grits, this is upsetting!!!!

Anonymous said...

Grits......Fitzgerald still has not trained the staff on the PSISM model. The audit was done a year ago and the was published in December 08. Fitzgerald went back and forth with CJAD with excuses and solutions during that time. Still no training and nothing has change.

After reading the last post maybe the HR director will show up in a cape and save the show with that increase. I have to laugh and watch Bexar's Fitzgerald screw up week after week. He makes good stories!!!! Cant wait to see what he screws up next... to be continued I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

and what about that girl who got fired for something in her past?They keep people with criminal history as PO's but fires her for doing something legal in her past. Is anyone doing anything about it, what happened to that girl? Why isn't the chief on leave pending an investigation? How is that fair?

Anonymous said...

How about the fact that they hired back an officer with 3 arrests ...which are clear violations of the law. Violent charges but then they fire an officer with a legal date pictures in her past. I do not understand. We need to go to the TWC civil rights division.

Anonymous said...

How about the fact that they hired back an officer with 3 arrests ...which are clear violations of the law. Violent charges but then they fire an officer with legal date pictures in her past. I do not understand. We need to go to the TWC civil rights division.

Anonymous said...

There's way too many unions in CSCD, and each union is tiny, they have no strength. An empowered CSCD union is a joke, open for so much office ridicule. If you want change, stop thinking the union can bring it in, and focus somewhere else. Stop bitching about your heavy caseloads, too. When officers are at 2 hour lunches and go to breakfast for an hour and a half, your case load cant be all that heavy.

Anonymous said...

we invite all employes of CSCDs to get in the same union and unite across the entire great state of Texas then we will be able to make change. We can then through these lousy judges out of office that refuse to take action.

Anonymous said...

3:48 Yes, some staff has small caseloads and has time for the two hour lunchs but that is a small group. It also points to the fact that the department is not managed correctly with staffing.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you take it up with the Felony out of county CSO and his girlfriend about their 2 hour lunches, or better yet talk to Cline or the manager. By the way, the guy your bitching about, didn't he have a problem with that Garza girl? Maybe, he will get a promotion and the chief can use his testimony to discredit her. Don't spout your righteous attitude here girlfriend, step up to the plate and confront him! Or are you someone who used the department vehicles in the past to visit your boyfriend at the taco house or go shopping, etc. before you got promoted for ?????? HUSH little baby don't you cry.....
This administartion has got to go along with all the little sucker fish who tag along!

Anonymous said...

the word is out....Cline wants people written up and then fired. look out you old CSO's, you will probably be first to go with your whopping $45,000 salaries after 15-20 years
makes me sick, that those F***ing judges tell you how to do your jobs, but dont care about your conditions!

Anonymous said...

The more I learn about our juvenile probation people, the more I get sick. How can you people supervise troubled youth? I know about some who are corupt, but there are many more than I actually knew about. TYC is a shining example to these TJPC liars and thugs. Lege, please take this apart like you did TYC.

Anonymous said...

HEY 7:16
why are you bringing Juvenile into this blog!
It isquite obvious to any that is educated that we are talking about BEXAR COUNTY ADULT PROABTION!!!!!
And their worthless chief ELMER FUDD...GET A CLUE

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Bonita would continue to fund the department. If the judges are not overseeing this chief then the state needs to. This is taxpayer money. I think maybe the state should bring suit against the judges. If the judges can only hire and fire and only those two things. I feel that once it became obvious that he needs to be fired then the judges are responsible for anymore of his wrong doing. Im not a lawyer but my brother is and he agrees. The judges failing to act would make them liable for not carrying out their administrative duties.

I think the Bexar Officers need to figure out when it was obvious to a mere layman that he needed to be fired. From that point on forward the judges should be brought in on all lawsuits. Check it out!!!

They are now liable as judges and as individuals. I do not know how many courts there are in Bexar. I would expect 30 maybe. Officers file suit you have the right to hold the judges accountable for not doing their judicial duty.

A BEXAR COUNTY ADULT PROBATION OFFICER said...

To all concerned about why the Criminal District Court Judges and County Court at Law Judges in Bexar County can only FIRE and HIRE the Adult Probation Director,
a research of HB 1326 will explain it all.

I would encourage all readers to read the history of that Bill. H.B. 1326 has done more harm than good to all the Adult Probation Officers in the entire State of TEXAS.

Anonymous said...

The change in law brought on by this bill took the judges out of the day-to-day operations of the probation department. However, the authority to hire and fire the Chief remains vested with them.

Anonymous said...

Bill Fitzgerald is a lawsuit magnet. The cost of settling all the law suits will eventually be paid (indirectly) by the State of Texas. Sad.

Anonymous said...

The fact is this guy needs to be fired is obvious! The judges should be held accountable!

Anonymous said...

You elected the freak judges....now live with it.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry they won't be elected again.

Steve Henderson said...

Anonymous said...
Judges are Judges I suppose. I work in Grayson County and we have the same thing going on and no one cares.

1/28/2009 10:08:00 AM


Elaborate if you can. I've had numerous dealings with Grayson County, and never found any issue with their probation dept. whatsoever. They use a progressive sanctions model.

Anonymous said...
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