Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Light reading: Various corrections topics

A few policy-wonk type publications caught my eye recently that may interest Grits readers, though I don't have time at the moment to post in detail on each of them:

Trimming adult corrections budgets
Via Sentencing Law & Policy, check out the Vera Institute's new report on "The continuing fiscal crisis in corrections: Setting a new course." Several states, according to Vera, plan large reductions in corrections spending from Fiscal Year 2010 to 2011. Topping the list:
New York: -9.51%
Connecticut: -7.67%
Iowa: -6.26%
Oklahoma: -5.53%
Illinois: -5.47%
Since Texas has a biennial budget, our Legislature won't get the opportunity to make similar cuts until next year. But if Oklahoma can cut 5% of its prison budget and New York nearly 10%, it's hard to believe the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can't muster any cuts at all.

Pretrial focus on juvie detention
On the juvie front, thanks to Marc Levin for pointing out this special juvenile justice edition (pdf) of the subscription publication Pretrial Reporter, distributed by the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, which included a reference to this resolution (pdf) from the American Bar Association on limiting collateral consequences for juvenile arrests. Pretrial Reporter also lets us know about a project analyzing whether risk assessment instruments should accommodate gender differences.

Using the budget crisis to 'leverage deinstitutionalization'
Another useful reference from Pretrial Reporter: See this report from the National Juvenile Justice Network published in June titled "The Real Costs and Benefits of Change: Finding Opportunities for Reform During Tight Fiscal Times" (pdf). Notably, the report offers a recommendation that policymakers "Use the current budget crisis as a means to leverage deinstitutionalization" in juvenile systems. I'd add that the same advice could be given for the adult system, particularly the report's suggestion to "Use Downsizing as a Means to Create a New Revenue Stream" to finance diversion programming. I wouldn't be surprised if some of Sen. Whitmire's staff have already perused this publication, as some of its suggestions align fairly closely with the Houston senator's ideas about downsizing at the Texas Youth Commission.

Future trends in state courts
Via CourTex, I found this interesting presentation (pdf) predicting future trends in state courts, from the 4th National Symposium on Court Management. Office of Court Administration chief Carl Reynolds, who writes CourTex, also recently pointed out a publication on the extent of new media use by the courts. One (perhaps unsurprising) factbite: Elected judges are much more likely to participate in social media than appointed ones. And speaking of court trends, Carl has another link-rich post about his office's work to advance access to the justice system for self-represented litigants.


Don said...

Grits: Just curious. If the all the cuts that could realistically be made in corrections from closing prisons, etc., were made, I wonder about how much could be saved to apply to the shortfall. And we don't want to get rid of the programs that have helped to keep prison population down, which we know TDCJ will want to do before they shut any prisons. Have any numbers been crunched that you know of?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I can see cutting 10% and still keeping the community bases stuff going, potentially even expanding it with savings from closed institutions. Hard to see how they cut more than that without significant changes to statutory punishment ranges.

Don said...

How many dollars is the 10%? Are you talking about just the prison budget?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10% would be $300 million-ish per year, which is probably the outside of what's realistic and would require closing multiple prison units.

Anonymous said...

Be careful spouting information regarding JDAI. It ain't what it's made out to be. More info floating out there about how the site in Oregan "pads" numbers. Juvenile crime in Dallas and Houston is actually up but because of the "screening instrument" the child never get's reerred therefore the crime is statistically not reported.