Friday, February 05, 2010

Correa: Preserve diversion funding, close prisons to cut TDCJ budget

Ana YaƱez Correa of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has an op ed in the Austin Statesman today suggesting that budget cuts in corrections should come from closing inefficient prison units instead of cutting treatment and diversion programs. Here's how the column concludes:

Overcrowded prisons force higher-risk offenders out to make room for incoming low-level offenders suffering from addiction.

Cutting diversion funding is an irresponsible approach to budget difficulties that will only exacerbate these problems, with negative long-term public safety consequences and the potential for taxpayers to shoulder the additional burden of costly prison and jail construction.

On the other hand, investing Texas' corrections dollars in the probation system will satisfy fiscal and public safety needs. More Texas offenders enter the probation system than prison or jail, and the numbers are rising. Sustaining the state's probation revocation rate as one of the lowest in the country through graduated, diversion-based sanctions is key to keeping crime rates down and saving taxpayers millions in incarceration costs in coming years.

According to Marty Griffith, director of the Williamson County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, "Because of the work of CSCDs across Texas, we have prevented three new prisons from being constructed — and having to operate three new prisons is something the state obviously cannot afford to do. But we have also eliminated the need for prison construction without jeopardizing public safety."

Ultimately, cost-cutting should come in the form of prison closures, just as other states have done in response to impending budget crises. In Texas, the Hilltop, Huntsville and Sugarland's Central units are each more than 100 years old; technologically ill-equipped and outdated, they are seeing inflated prisoner costs-per-day.

Generating savings through the closure of these inefficient facilities — or dangerously under-staffed facilities — will allow for additional investments in the state's cost-efficient and public safety-focused diversion infrastructure without necessitating that new prisons replace closed facilities down the road.

18 comments:

outlawprincess said...

TDCJ= irresponsiblity

Anonymous said...

ask marty griffin of williamson about his connection to the center for cognitive education and fred willoughby. center provides all of wilco's probation/parole needs. anger management, drugs/substance abuse treatment, sex offender treatment, battered intervention/prevention, cognitive education. the center provides expert witnesses and court ordered evaluations of course if the assessment deems an individual "needs" (and most individuals do) therapy of any kind, the center for cognitive education provides that too. the center is cash or money order only, no receipts, no financial accountability. the center operates out of 3 counties providing same services in Bell and McLennan. once in treatment at the center, it can go on forever. someone should be investigating this center.

Angee said...

A bundle of cash is being made at these centers where participation is indefinite unless there is no cash.
No cash means no treatment. No treatment is a parole violation. Participant and families are hostages to these payments. How many of these programs are government paid where the financial squeeze can't be put directly on individuals? The ones that diagnose the needs seem to be the ones that also collect the cash for such services. It's a better option than prison but something sure does stink.

Anonymous said...

The leadership should exempt the probation and parole systems from cuts.

Anonymous said...

Hilltop, you can’t close Hilltop. It’s a historical land mark initially built in 1888, renovated in 1988. Besides bulldozing that place may turn up the bones of missing children. We just can’t expose the moronic thinking that has historically plagued the managing of Texas’ corrections system. It wouldn’t be right. I think it may even violate some law to protect people with mental disabilities. Texas employees so many of these people who just couldn’t work anywhere but corrections. That would be like saying tdc officials cowardly murdered Bonnie and Clyde after law enforcement failed to prevent Clyde from doling out some well deserving justice in his raid on the ham. Hay that wasn’t in the movie!

Anonymous said...

How many of these diversion programs are double dipping. Charging cash to the defendant; no receipts given; no record of payment. It reaks especially when there is government funding available for same services. And, despite funds that are available counties such as Williamson are revoking young adults and sentencing them to prison for failure to pay. Families are held hostage in WilCo each week. As someone pointed out, it is easy to be dismissed from treatment for failure to pay which can easily land one in prison.

It does seem a few counties have a cozy relationship with their "program" providers.

Anonymous said...

treatment gets money from those they are supposed to be helping and they also get money from state funding. wow, double dipping at its best. this is also done in johson, tarrant, wise, jack counties too.

Berry Happy with my Job said...

Marty Griffith took over Rick Zinsmeyer's position as director of Williamson County CSCD in 2007. Prior to that he worked as the assistant director to Rick Zinsmeyer.

Rick Zinsmeyer is now the accounts manager for NCTI. According to their website, NCTI provides ongoing curricula for Evidence-Based Practices and technical assistance in both adult and juvenile offender programs.

Zinsmeyer was the director of CSCD when Williamson County first contracted the Center for Cognitive Education/Fred Willoughby.

The Center for Cognitive Education is approved by the Williamson County Courts to do the evaluations and/or assessments of offenders to determine what "program", if any, will be best suited for that offender.

zenith15 said...

I too was forced through one of these programs by Williamson County Probation. I was addicted to Rx painkillers at the time and was forced to go through a group therapy program at that mentioned facility. This involved being forced to undergo hypnosis. When I told me PO that this conflicted with my religious beliefs she told me that doing drugs ought to conflict with my religious beliefs too, and that if I refused to be hypnotized, I would be revoked. I had no option to go elsewhere and no right of refusal to participate in these "therapies".

Anonymous said...

One thing we don't talk about much is how to reduce crime. When he became mayor of NYC, Rudy Giuliani faced a city that was unsafe and crime infested. We could learn by examining what he showed us.

The entrenched political culture that Giuliani faced when he became mayor was the pure embodiment of American liberalism. Understanding that those old ideas didn't work, he tried something different.

There are those who will always wear blinders but others may be open to examining what Giuliani did that turned out to be successful in reducing crime and making NYC safer for the law abiding citizens. Maybe we can review that history.

Those who have little concern for the law abiding will simply say we need to release prisoners. The idea that a good number would continue to prey on the rest of us if released seems to elude them.

Anonymous said...

Who is she to give advise. Doesn't she worship Che Guevara - the terrorist?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

4:11, what are you talking about? I've known Ana for nearly a decade and have never heard her mention Guevara, communism, etc.. Can you back up that claim?

11:02, perhaps you're unaware that during the period NYC's crime rate declined, New York reduced its incarceration rate, released prisoners and actually closed prison units? If you're advocating New York's model, you're not against "releasing prisoners."

RE: "double dipping," about half of local probation budgets comes from the state and half from probationer fees. If that's "double dipping," fine, but the state dollars alone wouldn't cover all the costs.

Anonymous said...

I one attended a meeting of her group and there was Che...a poster on the wall. I never went back or helped after that!

Anonymous said...

Ann belongs to ALL the left leaning organizations. Che, the butcher, has long been an icon and object of worship for too many of those on the left. My friends from Cuba wouldn't appreciation the infatuation for Che.

Anonymous said...

If Ann does support criminals like Che, how can she suggest any goal for our criminal justice system? If this is true her words and thoughts are useless. She should withdraw from serious consideration.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I always find Anonymous whiners complaining about OTHER's lack of credibility quite amusing.

Since you've gotten her name wrong twice, you clearly know nothing about Ana (not Ann) and as such IMO you should "withdraw from serious consideration" - at least until you have something substantive to say about what she proposed - and leave off on the personal attacks until you are willing to sign your name to your opinions.

Anonymous said...

Robert R Allen I just finished a new entry on my blog at http://behindthescenes.govbizpartners.com/ . It compliments an article in the Austin American Statesman by my friend Ana Yanez Correa on Criminal Justice issues we face in light of Texas' looming state budget shortfall. The link is featured below.BEHINDTHESCENES.GOVBIZPARTNERS.COM
behindthescenes.govbizpartners.com
This debate has been going on for decades.The right has said repeatedly that good criminal justice policy means Texas should "Lock 'em up and throw away the key." The left, by contrast, has championed ...

Anonymous said...

We need to be judicious in where we make cuts in the next state budget for criminal justice. Certain categories of non-violent offenders are better dealt with outside of prison -- not just because the diversion programs cost less but because they actually work to prevent future criminal activity.