Saturday, December 05, 2009

Revocations down, crime down, county caseloads up after probation reform legislation

Texas has received a lot of credit recently in the national press for efforts to reduce incarceration rates and stave off new prison spending. Here's an update describing which parts of those reforms are doing the most to reduce incarceration pressures, as well as where and how those reforms aren't quite playing out as state leaders hoped.

TDCJ this week issued its latest report to the Governor (pdf) analyzing the results from expanded prison diversion funding at Texas probation departments, giving us a sense of the initial results from Texas' landmark investments in community corrections in the 79th and 80th Legislatures. (This year's was the 81st, so they're analyzing the program results of already-spent funds.)

In the big picture, these data tell us that Texas' probation reforms have been partially successful. Enacted to prevent exorbitant new prison spending, they were premised essentially on two goals - reducing revocations and reducing probation caseloads. It's the latter goal where the state has most obviously failed, with the felony direct supervision caseload rising instead of falling after reforms were enacted. The number of Texans on felony probation is still expanding wildly - increasing more than 10% since the 2004-'05 biennium. Given that trend, over time, even with reduced revocation rates, the prison population will rise again if more is not done.

If probation revocation rates had stayed the same, Texas would very soon be as much as 17,000 inmates over capacity, according to predictions by the Legislative Budget Board. That has not happened. Revocations in most of the largest jurisdictions are down, reports TDCJ. (Drug offenders account for the largest category of revocations.)

Crime rates in Texas remained steady or declined each year since the 2004-'05 biennium, so it's somewhat remarkable that the number of people on felony direct-supervision rolls increased by 10.2% over that period. Some of that's explained by reduced revocations, but much of it comes because courts are still sentencing ever-more offenders to probation every year. "Statewide, felony placements increased 4.1% from FY2004-2005 to FY2006-2007, and increased 2.3% from FY2006-2007 to FY2008-2009."

That's a weird systemic problem. With crime rates down, higher rates of probation placement are clearly not a function of more frequent criminality. Whatever the cause, it's actually part of a national trend of expanding probation rolls that's often masked when political debates focus solely on high prison costs.

Texas' prison population has recently leveled out primarily because the percentage of probationers revoked to prison declined after reforms implemented in the 79th session. But now, says TDCJ, those numbers are starting to go back up as caseloads rise. "[F]elony revocations to TDCJ are returning to FY2004-2005 levels after a decrease in the FY2006-2007 biennium," according to the report.

In light of these trends, Texas' justice system faces a critical juncture: the state must either fully commit to its baby-step diversion strategies or risk drowning in a seemingly never ending sea of offenders swelling probation caseloads.

A chart on p. 12 of the pdf shows the effects of state diversion funds on these rates. Departments that received diversion funds from the 79th and 80th Legislatures reduced their revocations by 4.14%, while departments that didn't get the money saw their revocations increase by 9.79%. (Departments had to agree to implement diversion strategies to get the money and some didn't want to.) Even more startlingly, departments receiving diversion funds saw technical revocations (for rule violations instead of new crimes) decline by 14.24%, while in departments receiving no funding, technical revocations increased by 11.51%.

Those are startling figures. Given the fact that we've not seen a related crime spike, they suggest that it's possible to reduce probation revocations without harming public safety using the tools employed over the last several years. Now, what will the Lege do with that information? Will they fund programs that work or ignore the results and spend more on prisons? That's the big question facing the criminal justice system heading into next year's elections and the 2011 legislative session.

Since not all departments got diversion funds - and since a handful of departments that received them did not reduce revocations - there is still room for building on the success reducing revocations. (Bexar, Collin, and Nueces counties stand out as jurisdictions where revocations rose most.) But the biggest immediate need is to address expanding caseloads.

A couple of specific aspects of the 2007 reforms were aimed at reducing caseloads: Reducing maximum probation lengths from ten years to five for nonviolent offenders with 3rd degree felonies or lower, and giving judges tools to incentivize good behavior by probationers with the possibility of early release.

Those changes clearly haven't had as much effect as anticipated, in part because initial placements on community supervision (the number of people sentenced to probation in the first place) increased substantially. Also, the bill was watered down at the last minute largely due to efforts by the Governor and Williamson County DA John Bradley, who insisted (wrongly, as it turns out) that the bill would spawn a massive crime spree. The legislation originally would have reduced probation lengths for more offenders all the way up to second degree felonies and affected a lot more people, so that's part of why caseload reduction gains weren't greater.

Another part of the 2007 Madden-Whitmire legislation has been used less by judges than legislators hoped: Provisions requiring judges to consider probationers who follow the rules for early release at the latter of two years or half their probation length. Since then, the number of offenders released from probation early increased by half. But since the provision was seldom used before, that's still not enough to mitigate other factors contributing to expanded caseloads. This is another aspect of the bill that would have had more impact if it hadn't been watered down. More serious offenses tend to be the ones, naturally, with the longest probation lengths.

The idea behind reducing probation lengths makes loads of sense from a public safety perspective. If a judge or jury decides an offender is safe enough to keep in the community and not incarcerate, there's no public safety justification for supervising them on probation as long as ten years. By far most recidivism occurs within the first couple of years; by ten years out, probationers are statistically less likely to engage in crime than are average citizens.

Of course, at the end of the day the state only supplies incentives, while local actors make most of the decisions about whether and how to use these new tools. Three larger counties saw oddly outsized increases in probation revocations (p. 22):
Bexar: 65.1%
Collin: 91.6%
Nueces: 21.0%
By contrast, the other large counties saw fairly big reductions in the number of probation revocations:
Harris: -16.0%
Dallas: -11.1%
Travis: -20.1%
Tarrant: -9.8%
Hidalgo: -2.4%
El Paso: -11.4%
Cameron: -5.0%
Bottom line: In most jurisdictions that received funding, Texas' probation reforms are having the intended effect reducing revocations. But rising caseloads threaten to overwhelm those gains. The situation can't be resolved by any one bill or government agency, it requires coordinating actions of hundreds of independent actors at the state and local level.

In that light, this has been an impressive start. It's been said the most difficult step on a thousand-mile journey is the first one; at least state leaders IMO are now headed down the right road, if they'll only build on these gains going forward instead of retrenching in the face of the coming budget crunch.

Go here to search for data on your own county.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grits, has there been a corresponding DECREASE in the percentage of offenders who bypassed probation and went straight to prison? That would certainly explain the increase in the percentage of people placed on probation and would mean that judges and prosecutors are becoming more willing to give probation a try for those who formerly could have expected to go to prison. My guess is that those offenders would also be more likely to reoffend.

I also wonder to what extent the lack of available bed space in TDCJ and many county jails has pressured courts and prosecutors to give probation in those "borderline" cases where they formerly might have pushed for pen time.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No, 12:48, it's exactly the opposite. According to LBB, Texas has recently averaged a 6% annual growth rate in direct court commitments to prison. The reductions have primarily come in probation revocations.

Also, in my experience prosecutors don't give a whit about prison ovecrowding; their attitude is that it's the state's job to build prisons to house how ever many people they send them. The system might well benefit if prosecutors took a more holistic, less atomic view, but it's not my impression that's a big concern for them in the current political climate.

Anonymous said...

In my experience Grits liberals don't give a whit about punishment; their attitude is that it's the liberal's job to find the good in everyone. The system might well benefit if liberals took a more realistic, less narcissitic view, but it's not my impression that's a big concern for them in the protected world view.

Anonymous said...

It is not a prosecutor or a judge's responsible to look at prison overcrowding when making a decision regarding the disposition of a case. If someone needs to go to prison, they need to go, and prison overcrowding should not be the determining factor.

I know you liberals hate to admit it, but the tough on crime approach works! Crime is down over the past 2 decades.


Criminal justice decisions are now being based on money. 10 years from now, crime will be out of control and once again the public will demand get tough, zero tolerance policies.

Anonymous said...

And, if revocations are down, it is simply because we decided to ignore non-compliance!

Anonymous said...

Grits, I'm curious as to whether you think a 10 year probation is too long for someone convicted of Felony DWI?

D.A. Confidential said...

My initial thought is that those who have said we prosecutors shouldn't consider the cost to the state are right. In my personal opinion, there are several reasons for this.
First, to do so would require us to have a pretty good understanding, and a constantly updated one, of the state's criminal justice budget. That's unrealistic, I think.
Second, I would have no idea what weight to put on the financial factor. Prosecutors look at things like the seriousness of the crime, the defendant's criminal history, the wishes of the victim, and the success of past treatment attempts. It's already a tough job to decide whether prison or probation is best, adding the money issue makes it all the more confusing.
Third, consider a financial situation where there is somehow a surplus of money in the prisons budget but a strain on the budget of the probation service. Do we then have to consider sending a good probation candidate to prison to help realign the budgets? I can't think anyone would see that as a good idea.
In my own, very humble, opinion, asking the prosecutors on the front line to worry about financial issues is a bit like asking a soldier to maintain an even balance between the different kinds of ammunition he's given. Others are welcome to improve on my analogy, of course. :)

Anonymous said...

"their attitude is that it's the liberal's job to find the good in everyone."

Yes, I think that is true, although, you make it sound so easy. It is difficult for even us liberals to find the good in narrow-minded, righteously inclined individuals with a conservative bent. But still we try.

Not to mention all those prosecutors! Present company excluded Mr. D.A. Confidential, sir.;)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Do y'all notice how, except for the very first commenter, most of the comments here are completely off topic? Nothing to do with diversion programs, probation caseloads, revocation rates, etc.. You tuff-on-crime types are such whiners! And cowards - when I insult someone, I sign my name to it.

3:39, I've not seen comparable data specifically on felony DWI, but in general if a judge or jury believes it's safe to give them probation, you're safer to let them earn their way off supervision with good behavior, participation in treatment, etc.. If they're so dangerous you think they need ten years supervision, they probably just need to be locked up.

DA Confidential, I agree individual ADA's shouldn't take prison/jail space or related financial issues into account in specific cases, however elected DAs need to take it into account when setting policy for their office about how different types of cases are handled - would you agree with that?

Anonymous said...

Diversion programs are not successful in rehabilitation or holding the offender accountable.
Revocations go down simply because departments are ignoring non-compliance issues. It really is that simple. I see it on a daily basis.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

6:22, using intermediate sanctions short of incarceration is not "ignoring" non-compliance. Of course, not every department is doing what they should on that, so maybe what you see every day doesn't exemplify what's happening in departments that are actually implementing best practices.

Anonymous said...

Our department has many intermediate sanctions and we are always looking for new ideas.

That is many people seem not to understand. An intermediate sanction, is really no sanction at all. It is an inconvenience at best.

Anonymous said...

When you talk to them about their rap sheet (usually very lengthy) they tell you they thought that being on probation was a joke. Each time they did whatevery they wanted to and didn't abide by the parole conditions.

Anonymous said...

Good criminal justice is neither liberal nor conservative; it’s what protects the community. The problem is that too many people have a very narrow view of what good criminal justice is. There are still judges and prosecutors who have a “zero tolerance” policy on drug use by probationers. It sounds tough but it’s really “zero intelligence.” They revoke non-violent drug users to spend several years in prison with rapists, murderers and thieves for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they expect them to come out better people. How na├»ve can you get? It’s much smarter to get those probationers clean and sober through treatment (even if it takes several attempts) rather than fill our prisons with them. That ultimately leads to shorter time served by the truly dangerous criminals. The money poured into probation in recent years has targeted substance abuse treatment, and that has not only reduced revocations, but has ultimately made our communities safer.

Anonymous said...

"get those probationers clean and sober"

Do you people realize some probationers like to get 'high' and have no desire to quit using. Some people (liberals) have this crazy idea that everybody wants to change. Many probationers are content with their lifestyle choice.

Anonymous said...

10:42, you're absolutely right. Some don't want to change. I have no problems with revoking someone who has no intention to change. They ultimately hurt not only themselves, but they also hurt others. However, MOST, (and after more than 25 years of working with them, I do know what I'm talking about) MOST of the addicts on probation do want to change. Therefore the naive idiots who think putting them into prison solves the problem are wasting my tax dollars, and I resent that.

FairPlay said...

D.A. Confidential

It seems to me that having the criminal justice sytem opperate effectively in Texas it would take all parts of the system to consider the load on TDCJ (the State) at any given time. Not so much associated with cost, but the avaiablity of space within TDCJ and their ability to ensure that individuals are able to be processed into the system.

I would guess at the current time this might not be such an issue due to the fact that the state provides funds to counties when TDCJ is unable to accept an offender within a certain amount of time.

In the early 90's I recall this being a serious issue becuase county jails were overcrowded and TDCJ did not have any space for new offenders. I believe that this was the cause for many counties to expand their county jails.

In the early 90's I was employed in the Parole Division of TDCJ. The restraints on what a parole officer could do with an offender was effected by the state penal system being overcrowded. I remember that at that time a parole revocation was almost impossible. Most county jails were so overcrowded that you could not even have a parole violater arrested becuase the counties also did not have any room in their jails.

From what I can see now, the State has more procedures in place to address the overcrowding issue and will reimburse counties for holding offenders. At this point, I can not see where there is any reason to worry about the finanical pressures of the State when it comes to sentencing.

As far as probation, there are so many alteratives avaiable for a probationer that it would not seem reasonable that a "good probation candidate" would have to be sent to prison. For example, probationers could be required to only report every three months, etc.

I am of the opinion that every part of the system needs to consider the financial aspects of housing and supervising offenders to make sure the entire system operates effectively.

If this is not done, as in the past, the legislature will be required to change sentencing guidelines and make provisions for incarcerated individuals to be released earlier to parole or get a reduced sentence.

Anonymous said...

I've never known of a judge or elected district attorney to suffer at the voting booth by sending too many people to prison. Until the legislature assigns some financial penalty to counties or restricts the types of offenses one can be sent to prison for, will TDCJ commitments be reduced. Counties view sending people to TDCJ as a freebie.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"An intermediate sanction, is really no sanction at all."

This comment is simply false. For example, "intermediate sanction facilities" built with the diversion money are actually places where people are incarcerated short-term in lieu of going back to prison. In fact, according to LBB, only half those who go to ISFs would have been revoked to prison. As I wrote last year, "That means the Lege has created a true intermediate sanction. It's not just a program that's LESS harsh than prison, for half of those using diversion beds it's actually a HARSHER sanction than would otherwise be available."

Also, to those who think we should incarcerate all "probationers [who] like to get 'high' and have no desire to quit using" - if you fill the prison up with drug offenders, when the really dangerous folks come along there's no room for them. As 8:36 said, that approach "ultimately leads to shorter time served by the truly dangerous criminals." It's easy to say "build more" but the state can't afford to staff the ones it's got. Prison should be reserved for people society fears, not for those we're just mad at.

Anonymous said...

Grits, as to the 3rd degree felony DWI offenders, there are no easy decisions to be made. Most of the offenders are not "bad people" as that phrase is commonly used on this forum, but one need only pick up the paper or watch the news to understand the potentially tragic consequences of this crime.

Even with the best of treatment efforts, I have seen these probationers fall off the wagon and reoffend 6, 8 and 9 years into a probation. I would suggest that it's overly simplistic to suggest these probationers should have been sent straight to the pen on the front end. In my judgment, categorically reducing 3rd degree probation lengths for these offenders to 5 years is taking a real chance with the safety of the motoring public.

One new dynamic on DWI's that I wish you'd address on your blog is the increasing number of DWI's resulting from the use of prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Soma and Xanax. I don't think the public is even remotely aware of how dangerous these people really are. These are also difficult cases from the prosecution and probation perspective due to the fact that many of these offenders did have some valid injury before they became addicted to prescription drugs. Sorry I've kind of wandered off topic, but I think these kinds of cases are going to present some real challenges in this probation vs pen time discussion.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:33: As I've said, I've not seen data specific to felony DWI, so I can only offer my sense of a likely answer, not a an evidence-based one.

That said, how do you believe long probation terms protect anyone, particularly if, as you say, people may re-offend nine years out? (Pretty rare, btw, statistically speaking.) Probation didn't stop them from reoffending, according to your scenario. So what good does it do? How are we better off if the person is still on probation when they get their next felony DWI nine years later as opposed to pulling a new case? They're prison-eligible either way. I just don't see the benefit from what you're suggesting. How is anyone better off? In what way is safety improved?

People also reoffend on DWI after they've been sent to prison. A ten-year probation term protects no one. Changing the offender's behavior is all that will do that, and the state can only do so much.

Which brings me to the bottom line: An addiction-related offense, be it drugs or alcohol, gives the state an "in" to attempt to change behavior, but that opportunity is inevitably short-lived. Long-term monitoring wastes resources with little benefit and diverts supervision resources from the vast majority of offenders who recidivate, if they're going to, in first couple of years. If you think someone is THAT dangerous, lock them up. If you think they're not "bad" people and deserve a chance to change, give them that chance. There's little benefit and significant opportunity cost from trying to split the difference.

Anonymous said...

The first and most obvious way a lengthy DWI probation might deter recidivism is the requirement that the probationer maintain an ignition interlock device on his vehicle--a standard term of most felony DWI probations. Admittedly, the hard core addicts will find a way around this requirement, but there are likely many other probationers for whom this is enough of an incentive to make them think twice and use a designated driver.

In addition, the continued supervision of a probation officer for an extended period of time might allow an opportunity to intervene when an alcoholic is found to be "backsliding." If relapse treatment can then be offered, even 7 or 8 years into a probation, I would suggest that this is much preferable to allowing this person to go unsupervised and have to wait until they are caught driving intoxicated yet again.

Finally, I would suggest that the continued possibility of going to prison as a consequence of a probation revocation is an incentive for many offenders to stay sober---or at least not drive drunk.

If you're looking for a societal "benefit," in this instance, just ask the family of any victim who lost their life at the hands of a drunk driver. If those continued supervisory resources save the life of just one innocent motorist, I'd say it's money well spent.

Anonymous said...

It's not unusual for a person to have slips in recovery from addiction to any substance. It's important for the recovering addict to be aware of this so they can tell someone at the first instance without being ashamed or embarassed before it spirals out of control. I'm not sure being on probation helps a person want to seek help when the consequenses are imprisonment.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:24, several things. First, ignitition interlocks are great but they're not a cure-all. They're expensive and as you say, motivated drunks will find their way around them. Also, they're not usually required for a full ten-year stint but only in the beginning period because of the expense. That, of course, is the period when supervision is most important.

I also disagree continued supervision for ten years "might allow an opportunity to intervene when an alcoholic is found to be 'backsliding.'" If POs are spread too thin because of high caseloads, they can't supervise closely enough to catch backsliding. How would they know unless the person is arrested again or admits it?

As for the continued possibilty of going to prison, for felony DWIs it's already there. Probation doesn't change that at all - their next offense and they're prison eligible. What's the difference?

Finally, this statement is pure demagoguery: "just ask the family of any victim who lost their life at the hands of a drunk driver". I'd argue that promoting counterproductive policies that REDUCE supervision during the period it's most needed puts people at greater risk than letting DWI probationers earn their way off probation early through good behavior. Everyone wants to improve public safety, the question is "how?" I think what you're suggesting actually makes society less safe because it's focused on monitoring instead of giving incentives for changed behavior.

Anonymous said...

"That's a weird systemic problem. With crime rates down, higher rates of probation placement are clearly not a function of more frequent criminality. Whatever the cause, it's actually part of a national trend of expanding probation rolls that's often masked when political debates focus solely on high prison costs."

One of these days someone might understand what "cooking the books" is. Just ask Dallas PD. Crime is not down, agencies are "cooking the books" and reporting differently to UCR.

Anonymous said...

Well, the evolution of Grits' liberal thought on this topic is "amusing" to say the least.

Historically, Grits has advocated against prison incarceration as ineffective and costly, thereby advocating greater utilization of community based corrections, i.e., probation, as less costly and more likely to achieve rehabilitation and reform.

NOW, we learn from Grits that community based corrections are also uneconomical and innefective because they are OVERUTILIZED and too expensive!

So what's the next step, Grits? The "honor system?" How about everyone just agree to be nice, follow the law, play by the rules and love one another? There you have it. Problem solved!!!

When you get right down to it, liberals aren't in favor of more "compassionate" sentencing. They don't want criminals being prosecuted or held accountable at all. There is no risk to public safety great enough to overcome there never-ending conviction that there is no soul that can't be salvaged with a sufficient amount of hugging and other touchy feely compassion and understanding.

If a drunk goes out and gets behind the wheel of a car and kills a family on the highway, well we'll just love him back into sobriety and shame on all of those "demagogues" who might label him a "criminal" and want to punish him and impose sufficient constraints upon him to insure that he never harms someone else again.

The bottom line on these reduced probationary periods advocated by Grits, Madden, Whitmire, et al, is, well, the bottom line. They want to reduce probationary terms to reduce the number of people who get revoked and sent to prison. It's too "costly" they whine. The shorter duration of the probation, the less likely they'll get caught screwing up before their probation term runs out. Hell's Bells, Grits, why stop at 5 years? Let's reduce felony probation terms down to a maximum of 2 years! That would really put a dent in the number of probationers getting revoked and reduce probation caseloads so probation officers could give quality "one on one" time to every customer. When you get right down to it, really, what's the problem with sacrificing a few innocent lives on the roadways when we're talking about keeping more drunks out of prison?

Oh, one point on those interlock devices: the probationer has to pay for them. I guess the liberals feel like that's "unfair" and perhaps that poor drunk could better use his money on something else--like a bottle of Boone's Farm!

I think Grits has finally shown his true colors on this issue. There is absolutely no punishment, however lenient it may be, that liberals can't find some reason to quarrel with. Thank God, that the majority of the population in this state still has the good sense to recognize this "touchy-feely hug-a-thug" propaganda for what it is,....complete and total absurdity!

FairPlay said...

Probation and DWI

From my experience, I am thinking that DWI probation as little or no effect on effecting if the average probationer decides to drive after drinking.

For most of my life I have frequented drinking establishments, mostly out of bordem from living in a small East Texas town on Lake Livingston. I have always been amazed at the number of
DWI probationers who frequent the bars, continuing to drink and drive.

Most DWI probationers know that it very unlikely that their probation officer is going to find out that they're drinking or even in a drinking establishment against the terms of their parole or probation.

Listening to DWI probationers talk, they know that they are usually only going to be tested for alcohol when the report to their probation officer. They know that they will not test positive by refraining from drinking the day before.

I would think that if a probation officer had common sense that they would know that DWI probationers contine to drink. It seems to me that this fact is usually ignored as long as the probationer is paying his fees and attends a minimial DWI training class.

Anonymous said...

You know, there are anklet monitors that will detect the slightest trace of alcohol in a person.

While I'm not sure that they should be used for everyone and for an entire lifetime, as I suspect some would like, it is one solution that might bring peace a little closer to both sides.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

1:41, nothing you say as far as I can tell has anything to do with a single thing I've written, so I feel no obligation to defend positions I've never taken just because you want to attribute them to me. Certainly it's absurd and a flat out lie to say I oppose any and all punishment. Statements throughout this comment string flat-out contradict that.

Instead of complaining of "Grits liberals" and making up straw men, why not try QUOTING things I say that you disagree with then SPECIFICALLY say what you disagree with? Just blathering on about unrelated topics - criticizing positions no one has taken, smearing others instead of debating them - merely wastes everyone's time, including yours.

Anonymous said...

You say revocations are down but apparently the county I live in is not following the norm. Felony Revocations to TDCJ were up 95.7% and Felony Technical Revocations were up 246.7%.

Anonymous said...

Grits is so locked in his little liberal box that he can't understand why everyone does oppose any and all attempts to apply sanctions against criminals.

It's like the guy who walks along the beach and believes the tracks behind him were not left by him.
He believes he hasn't shown his hand by all he has written (his tracks in the sand).

Anonymous said...

By contrast, the other large counties saw fairly big reductions in the number of probation revocations:

Harris: -16.0%
Dallas: -11.1%
Travis: -20.1%
Tarrant: -9.8%
Hidalgo: -2.4%
El Paso: -11.4%
Cameron: -5.0%

Well, lets see here.

Harris County jail is overpopulated and housing inmates in other county jails. Dallas County @ 81.22% capacity, Hidalgo at 89.12% and housing inmates in other county jails, El Paso @ 82.83% and Cameron @ 88.33. Only Tarrant County is below 80% coming in at 70.90%

Source TCJS November 2009

In addition, some 3111 county inmates are being held by other county jails because their home county has no beds. 2/3rds of all county jails are housing inmates in jails other than their own.

Assuming the report about revocations being down is correct, it would appear counties have no place to house revocationers which might be contributing to the decline in revocations and causing these counties to seek alternative measures.

By the way, population reports seem to contradict the assertion that crime is down.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

6:53, I said revocations were down in most of the largest counties. County-by-county data vary widely and some of the counties that didn't take the diversion money have rather startling numbers.

7:03, your comment doesn't even make sense. What does it even mean that I "can't understand why everyone does oppose any and all attempts to apply sanctions against criminals"? That's just nonsense - it doesn't even convey a rational thought. See above about replying to specifics, not straw men. And if I've "shown my hand" then you should have no trouble quoting specifics that demonstrate the allegations you're making. Please do.

7:10, those were FELONY revocations which means the offenders are revoked to PRISON, not the county jail. Revoked MISDEMEANOR probationers would end up in the jail, but that's not what those stats refer to.

As far as crime being down, go argue with the folks at the FBI who compile the data. Or maybe they're also a bunch of "Grits liberals" rigging the stats.

Anonymous said...

"As far as crime being down, go argue with the folks at the FBI who compile the data. Or maybe they're also a bunch of "Grits liberals" rigging the stats."

Son, I don't know what you are, liberal or conservative and don't really give a rats ass. And not going to argue with the FBI as they have no control on how agencies report. The FBI compiles stats based on what is submitted to them. What you need to understand is that le administrators are cooking the books and not reporting according to UCR standards.

On paper it may appear that way, in the real game, crime is not down!

Retired LE

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Retired LE, I've seen some evidence of cooking stas - particularly in Dallas - but not enough to explain the long-term declines we've seen. Some crimes like murder are pretty hard for them to fudge and they've been going down significantly, too.

Anonymous said...

Grits, I invite you to come spend a day and night at our department. See what we do during the day, and then ride along with our officers at night! Go into the neighborhoods and homes and see the lifestyle choices that contribute to crime.

People who do not do this day in and day out, could not possible have a realistic perception of what probation is and isn't.

Anonymous said...

Your right grits, murders from 2008compared to 2007 are down, a meager 46 total less reported homicides. On the other hand, aggravated assaults are out the roof. As a whole, violent crimes consisting of murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault (UCR terms) are up.....122,054 total for 2007 vs 123,564 in 2008.

Property crimes are what's being reported differently if they are being reported at all. 985,142 in 2007 vs. 969,570 in 2008

And some agencies are not reporting any longer.

Good night and thanks for the dialogue.

Retired LE

Anonymous said...

At 07:30 I left out the word "not".
It should have read:

Grits is so locked in his little liberal box that he can't understand why everyone does not oppose any and all attempts to apply sanctions against criminals.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Retired LE, see Texas' reported UCR data comparing 2008 data to 2007. The only violent crime numbers that increased last year were, as you say, Ag Assault (up 4% over 2007), but looking at previous years Ag Assault declined before that in each of the last three reports.

That said, looking at the data over time there's more variation than I'd given credit for. I may take the last decades' numbers and do some crunching to get a more exact trend analysis.

8:09, How would I know which is your department when you're anonymous? It seems like you've got very little to contribute to this debate besides defensiveness and emotion. You don't appear to dispute anything I've said - or at least nothing specific - you just seem angry generally that anyone took a position different from yours (even if you can't articulate the source of your disagreement). If you want to be taken seriously in debates like this, calm down, focus on facts instead of emotion, and try to represent your own views instead of caricaturing others'. If you do, you'll be taken more seriously.

Pirate Rothbard said...

"The system might well benefit if prosecutors took a more holistic, less atomic view, but it's not my impression that's a big concern for them in the current political climate."

I've always wondered why the state can't just charge local jurisdictions for housing inmates in state prisons. They might not charge 100% of the cost, but even if they could charge 20% it would really make the local prosecutors think twice.

FairPlay said...

"- particularly in Dallas - but not enough to explain the long-term declines we've seen. Some crimes like murder are pretty hard for them to fudge and they've been going down significantly, too."

During Criminal Justices classes taken 10 years ago, it was pretty much said that violent crime and other crimes would most likely decrease as the the pouplation aged. I think that at this point, individuals, who are age 65 and over, are at the highest point ever in America.

Anonymous said...

Must be a bunch of bored prison-guards who debate on this blog, since the idea of just taking away a person's driver's license never even came up in this discussion.

(Technical nuaunce: Tying the purchase of gasoline to scanning of a valid drivers license wouldn't be hard to achieve, technically speaking)

FairPlay said...

"Must be a bunch of bored prison-guards who debate on this blog, since the idea of just taking away a person's driver's license never even came up in this discussion."

It was not brought up becuase it is just plain ignorant to believe that someone is still not going to drive eventhough they do not have a driver's license. If someone is not scared to drive drunk, what makes you think that that they would be scared without a license.

It seems like these "prison guards" have a better sense of reality that you do.

Oh and you think that having to have a license to buy gas is good idea. I can surely tell don't have much of a grasp on reality if you think that would solve the problem.

To give you the benefit of the doubt, I'm going to just believe that you were trying to be scarcastic.

Anonymous said...

Does Dallas have a "Crime Prevention" unit (lock 'em up before they do anything wrong) like the one in Richardson and probably other Collin County police depts, such as Plano?

Anonymous said...

"Fairplay" dribbled:

"It was not brought up becuase it is just plain ignorant to believe that someone is still not going to drive eventhough they do not have a driver's license. If someone is not scared to drive drunk, what makes you think that that they would be scared without a license."


Sounds like your argument , on a broader scale, is against all forms of intermediate / graduated punishments. 'Cause what works in your worldview is "off with their heads", or just lock 'em up and throw away the key. By the way, do you have any stats to back up your claims? I mean, since you are acting as judge and jury on matters of who has a grasp of reality. Hey, I'm just sayin' ...

P.S. - It's "because", not "becuase". Minor point, but folks with a good grasp on reality usuually use spell-checkers...

FairPlay said...

Well, you have misinterpeted my argument. I never once said anything about being against any form of graduated sanctions. I am an firm believer that our system is way to punitive, especially in drug cases. From what I posted, I can not even remotely understand how you came to your conclusion. It appears to me that you are just another anonymous poster with a lack of logical reasoning skills if you were able to deduce what you did from what I wrote.


You ignorantly wrote:

"Ummm Folks with a grasp of good reality usuually use spell checkers..."

How long did it take for you think of those words of wisdom? I guess therefore you fail to have a good grasp of reality right along with me. When did they start spelling usually with three "u"'s.

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Fairplay still has not produced any sort of stats or studies to back up the claims made, instead only attempting to justify bad spellinggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg.