Friday, January 21, 2011

Adult probation cuts detailed from just-filed Texas budget bill

A reliable informant forwarded me an email from Carey Welebob, director of the Community Justice Assistance Division at TDCJ, to local probation directors around the state, including this "preliminary summary" of cuts to probation funding in the recently filed version of HB 1:
Preliminary Summary of the FY 2012-13 General Appropriations Bill, as Introduced, House Version
 
As stated in an email yesterday, the House version of the general appropriations bill was filed on Wednesday, January 19, 2011.  Below is a short summary of the proposed reductions specific to probation; following that is the impact to other TDCJ functions. The general appropriations bill is typically filed in both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, and a similar summary of the Senate version will be sent when it becomes available.  It is important to remember the bill, as introduced, is only the starting point for budget deliberations occurring during the legislative session. TDCJ will work closely with members of the legislature and the Governor’s Office throughout the next five months to ensure they have accurate information regarding the impact of various reductions on operations and staff. Final decisions regarding appropriations for the FY 2012 – 2013 biennium will only be made after intensive review by legislators and numerous opportunities for input in the budget process.  All TDCJ operations and programs were reduced and the bill, as filed, would eliminate over 2,000 positions within TDCJ alone.  The reduction in probation funding would also eliminate staff positions in the local CSCDs.  I will be calling upon you to help with an impact analysis for your departments so, as it is necessary, we can present information both at a state level and a local level.  During our webinar next week and each of the "Coffee with Carey" sessions, I will be asking questions regarding budget impact; tomorrow we plan to send spreadsheets for you to review how the House bill, as introduced, would impact your formula lines; this is another step to identify criticality of services/functions within departments.  After Legislative committees are named, it is anticipated that hearings will be scheduled quickly; therefore, it will be imperative for you to identify how this initial bill (and the Senate bill, as filed) will impact your department.  I look forward to our discussions and the energy I know you will contribute to this process.  More soon, Carey

The House appropriations bill, as initially filed:

• Eliminates funding for misdemeanor probation supervision and reduces the felony probation formula funding per diem to $1.37, based on the LBB June 2010 population projections
• Reduces treatment/diversion programs as initially funded by the 80th Legislature, to include the elimination of 800 probation residential treatment beds and program funding for medically targeted substance abuse treatment (currently aftercare treatment services), and a reduction of one-half ($2.5 million annually) for probation outpatient substance abuse treatment; state-contracted intermediate sanction facility beds were also reduced.
• Excludes funding required for the biennialization of the FY 2010-11 approved pay raise for community supervision officers and direct care staff
• Eliminates program funding for the Harris County Community Corrections Facility, the Battering Intervention and Prevention Program and made substantial funding reductions to Treatment Alternatives to Incarceration Program (90%)
• Reduces funding levels for mental health services and continuity of care for adult offenders

For other TDCJ functions, the House Appropriations bill, as initially filed:

INCARCERATION & TREATMENT:
• Directs the agency to close the Central Unit no later than September 1, 2011
• Reduces staffing and funding for core operational areas within the incarceration function (such as correctional unit support staff, utilities, maintenance, and agriculture operations)
• Excludes funding required for the biennialization of the FY 2010-11 approved pay raise for correctional officers and unit staff
• Freezes the salaries of all correctional officers, ranking correctional officers, and food service and laundry managers, at a rate not to exceed their salary as of August 2011
• Reduces funding for over 1,100 substance abuse treatment slots
• Reduces funding for adult offender release payments by 50%
• Eliminates funding for approximately 2,000 beds in Contract Facilities
• Eliminates program funding for Academic/Vocational Training for offenders
• Eliminates staffing and funding for Project Re-Integration of Offenders (RIO), the chaplaincy program and reentry transitional coordinators and reduces funding for sex offender treatment program
• Reduces funding levels for offender Psychiatric Care, Unit Care, Hospital Care, and Pharmacy, and would eliminate staffing and program funding of the Correctional Managed Healthcare Committee.
• Provides no general obligation bond funding for major facility repairs in FY 2012-13

PAROLE:
• Reduces staffing and funding for nearly 100 parole officers and parole support staff
• Eliminates funding for approximately 550 halfway house and intermediate sanction facility beds
• Excludes funding required for the biennialization of the FY 2010-11 approved pay raise for parole officers
• Freezes the salaries of all parole officers at a rate not to exceed their salary as of August 2011

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT OPERATIONS:
• Eliminates staffing and program funding for the Victim Services Division
• Reduces staffing and funding levels for all other administrative and support functions (for example, Central Administration, Information Technology, Office of Inspector General, State Counsel for Offenders, and Health Services)
I hadn't realized until reading this that prison and parole staff not only won't be getting any pay raises under the proposed budget, by not making permanent raises received in the last biennium, they're actually getting a pay reduction!

Wrote the probation director who forwarded this to me (italics in original), "This doesn’t just cut us; it guts us."

See related, recent Grits posts:

55 comments:

Nequam Compleo said...

Ok Scott. Tell me if my thought process here is working correctly. They're cutting substance abuse treatment programs? So those folks that would have gotten treatment for drug or alcohol dependency WON'T be getting treatment? In my mind, then, I see a direct correlation to those people returning to the prison system much quicker and much more frequently. This would mean an INCREASE, most likely, of the prison population. Is that a safe, logical assumption? If so, way to go! Something tells me we're going to see more riots in the prisons, more assaults on staff (especially since they're going to be watching more offenders with less people) and eventually, calls for MORE prisons to be built.

Don said...

Nequam, if this all really came to pass, it wouldn't mean an "increase", it would mean a veritable explosion in the prison population. This was totally predictable, as many of us totally predicted, on this blog, even. But, what we are looking at here is a stupid game, one that TDCJ always plays, and the LBB goes along with. As Scott said, they set themselves up to fail, so we can't REALLY do these budget cuts as outlined. Because with the impact statement, which you don't see, everyone knows it would cause a prison explosion of unprecedented dimensions. Along with that, they will say, we will have ax murderers, child molesters, baby killers, and all manner of vermin that will have to be released onto the streets. And with little or no supervision, as we have to practically eliminate probation and parole services. Can't be done. Now when they come back with some "improvements" to this idiocy, they will say: "See what a miracle we accomplished!" All this is not to say that there won't be some draconian cuts. There will be, and they won't be where they should be, which is closing prisons. To do that, you would have to increase, not eliminate, funding for programs, probation, and parole services. The game will make you gag. The reality will make you follow through with the projectile vomit.

Anonymous said...

Not only in CJ, but in all the proposed budget cuts, I fear the lege is pushing Texas more and more towards being a third world country. But, let's look on the bright side, maybe that will cut down on illegal immigration!

Charles in Tulia

Don said...

If we become a third world country, we just, you know, shoot them. Like the fringe wackos want to do anyway.

Nequam Compleo said...

Thank you Don.
If memory serves, I know I've read also that most of the types of programs that are being cut are also CHEAPER than incarceration. Where is the fiscal responsibility to all of this? And did the programs have any overall effect on reducing recidivism?

Anonymous said...

If they are innocent, and were falsely accused, why do they need to be supervised once released?

Anonymous said...

To all the posters here....How much more are you willing to personally sacrifice from your paycheck to continue to fund the state budget at its current level?

Anonymous said...

anon 9:56

I don't see the posters here opposing cuts in general, but opposing the cuts advocated by TDCJ. Strawman not welcome.

BTW, as a retired person I have taken cuts the past couple of years, both in SS (after deductions) and in some of my private pension adjustable annuities.

Charles in Tulia

Nequam Compleo said...

9:56
I guess I'll have to say none. I'm a convicted felon who has had 3 job offers rescinded in the past 6 months due to the felony on my record. I guess I keep forgetting that even though I have the ability to vote (and do) that I should still have no voice and no opinion. How dare me to question anything. The nerve of people like me.

Anonymous said...

Charles.....That's the problem. Everyone thinks their program should be treated like a sacred cow.

Sort of like in education. Educators are jumping up and down but refuse to look locally where they can cut. You know like building new football stadiums for example. Talk about a sacred cow here in Texas.

Anyone on here for a state income tax?

Don said...

They don't build new football stadiums with state allocations. Besides, we're talking about the cuts to the CJ programs causing more, not less, necessary expenditure in the future. They are penny wise, dollar foolish.

Anonymous said...

"But, let's look on the bright side, maybe that will cut down on illegal immigration!"

Charles......
last nite I watched as Los Angeles county supervisor Michael Antonovich stated that just in welfare benefits alone, Los Angeles County spent 600 million dollars for children of illegal immigrants. Combined with public safety costs and health care costs, the official claimed the "total cost for illegal immigrants to county taxpayers" was more than $1.6 billion in
2010.

Anonymous said...

Don....

Are you for a state income tax?

w said...

so the Ramsey Unit suddenly has pulled over 120 inmates up for review this week and interviewed them, I wonder how this related to the budget cuts....

Cactus Wild Bill said...

Texas knew that the 17 billion dollar budget gift from Washington was going to dry up, yet Mafiaso Perry once again used the budget crunch for re-election. Only Rick Perry can solve the budget problem he claims, only the Republicans can do this.
When Pigs have wings and the State of Texas is running on four flat tires will Perry start to understand the need for some responsible government action-no entity can go 50 years without raising certain new taxes-NOT A WORD is being said here about an income tax-ok?
This is the great State of Texas, not a pauper state. We must be financially sound and secure. By misdirecting state funding to property taxes, this mess is now upon Texas....thanks perry...tell your sons and daughters to never ever work for the State of Texas-the now JOB ELIMINATION State
These millionaire congressmen and women have no idea how much State Workers have already taken and how hard it is to make a living...too many have two or three jobs to make ends meet...they even trade food coupons at work-get the picture?

Anonymous said...

"no entity can go 50 years without raising certain new taxes-NOT A WORD is being said here about an income tax-ok?"

So Bill, what certain new taxes are you proposing be raised?

Anonymous said...

I'll go for an state income tax under (at least) two conditions:
1. It is coupled with a reduction in the sales tax.
2. It exempts lower income people.

If you look closely at the cuts in the state budget, they will affect middle and lower income people the most. Kill a few community colleges? Heck, that doesn't affect the rich kids who are going to SMU. Reduce Medicaid funding? No sweat if you have a good job and good health insurance. Kill a probation substance abuse program? No big deal if you can afford to go to Whispering Oaks rehab center anyway. This is class warfare against middle and lower income people.

Don said...

To Anon. Not necessarily advocating for a state income tax, but it is something that needs to looked at along with other revenue enhancing measures, such as gambling. All possibilities for increased revenue should be considered. The budget as proposed is both irresponsible and untenable. It presupposes that we are all idiots. And don't think taxes are not gonna be raised; they will just be called something else. (fees).

Anonymous said...

Actually, Don, a lot of the people who post on here are idiots. Just sayin'.

Scott in South Austin said...

Given the cost savings of probation and treatement versus incarceration, I for one would love to see funding using the Rainy Day Fund. However, that would be pound foolish and penny wise for the knuckleheads at the Legislature.

Anonymous said...

I see some old school red brick prisons closing in the near future...I guess we will be living by the "Do more with less" Thanks to Brad Livingston for going before the CJ Comittee and lying his ass off telling Whitmire thatr everything was ok a year ago...And as for Rick Perry...well the public got what they voted for...at this point I dont think it would have helped having a new governor anyways...the rail had already been cut...the train was gonna derail regardless of who was steering..We in Texas cant be surprised...all we can do at this point is be thankfull that we werent in this position back when California first was..

Anonymous said...

Why not raise sales tax .75 cents? Any accountants out there? Can you figure what impact that would have for the budget? I think I would rather pay more in sales tax than start an income tax. What is wrong with looking at this?

Anonymous said...

@ 4:23 you said I guess we will be living by the "Do more with less"

Who knows what the future may hold, but that does not change the fact that the entire country as a whole wants to live within our means.

Anonymous said...

Our prison system wouldn't be expensive at all if good ol' William Wayne Justice had left well enough alone. I think it's way past time to go back to prisons being prisons--not the cake walk they seem to have become. Maybe then we could close a few more prisons because folks would be less inclined to go there!

Don said...

To anon 6:10......Oh, never mind. Where would I start?

Anonymous said...

@7:04 I feel ya, But Does these people not know anyone in prison? Watch lock up. When did this way of living become a luxury.

Anonymous said...

A bill that has been proposed by State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio seeks to create a domestic violence registry, similar to the current sex offender registry.

Anonymous said...

9:21 The Sex registry costs us 3 million a year to maintain. The reigistry is not a good thing. Our lawmakers just dont get it.

Anonymous said...

Most disturbing is the poll recently taken in Texas, which I suspect is a reflection of the nation. It showed Texans do not want to cut the state budget, but they do not want to pay higher taxes. In other words, let’s borrow to keep on going. Our elected officials will tell us, with a poker face, they are worried about leaving the debt to our grandchildren. Good grief, we got ourselves into this mess. We should get ourselves out.

This time the attack comes from within, from an over-indulgent population that believes we can live high on the hog forever by borrowing. And we are encouraged by our elected officials to continue on this path. There is no one in the political camp willing to tell the truth to the American people that this cannot continue and that we have to bite the bullet to turn around the economic situation.

Anonymous said...

State sales tax approximately 20 billion yearly at 6 1/4 percent. every percentage increase could generate approximate 3 billion in revenue. how many extra pennies per dollar are we willing to spend to maintain the status quo?

Anonymous said...

The more money you give to government the more they will spend. All state aide programs should have a requirement that you do something productive to get a check, card, etc. What is wrong with the notion that rather than pay a monthly check sitting on their ass, that we require them to sit at a toll both and collect toll money, or pick up debris on the road way? I know this will piss some of you off but why pay for these services now when we can employ a person already getting a free lunch and more bang for this buck.

Anonymous said...

As for the criminals, we could instead put them in nursing homes:

They would receive cold food.
They would be left alone and unsupervised.
They would receive showers once a week.
They would live in tiny rooms, for which they would have to pay $5,000per month.
They would have no hope of ever getting out.

Roycommi said...

Repub lick cans wont pass new taxes because they dont value the services to the community. so what if poor go sick or malnourished? So what if the middle class shells out more money in tolls to get around town? So what if a bunch of retirees have less money?

i think you are all proceeding from a false assumption that Repub lick cans give a shit about that stuff. They dont...

DeathBreath said...

Yes, if you voted GOPig, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. When you lose money in your salary, remember your voting record. There is a reason this is happening. You wanted more money in your pocket? Guess what? The taxes you hoped to avoid will cost you in the long run. For Joe Public, your lives will be touched by crime, I can assure you. Previous to the cuts, Texas was still underfunded. It takes money to protect the public from the criminal element. Now, you've gutted the safeguards. I am thankful I don't have to work inside TDCJ any longer. It is going to be a very dangerous place to work. But, Joe Public does not care until their pathetic egocentric lives are affected.

Deborah said...

Prison is “a cakewalk” Anonymous? In what way? Is it a cakewalk to be fed garbage, that is unsanitary and can possibly make you ill? Is it a “cakewalk” to be fed garbage that is not at the proper temperature? Is it “a cake walk” to be fed garbage your dog (if you have one) would refuse to eat? Is it “a cakewalk” to live somewhere where there is no respite or relief from flies, mosquitoes and vermin? Is it “a cakewalk” to live in a place where the ceiling could possibly fall on your head in the place you live, or having water drip on your head in your bed when it rains, or to live in a place where it is so filthy dirty, that you can catch a disease or staph infection? (as my husband has!)? They do not even supply gloves for him, while he is cleaning the dorms (he was made a janitor)! Is it “a cakewalk” that the heaters in the dorms and unit do not work during 36 degree weather, and there are no fans to relieve the summer heat? My husband’s past few years at Wayne Scott Unit has not been “a cakewalk!”
I DO agree with you that a few prison units should be closed and have in fact were supposed to be closed back in the 1980’s, but they just renamed the place and went on, “business as usual!”
There is NO PART of prison life that is “a luxury.” There is NO PART of prison life that is fun or desirable!
As for Anonymous who wrote: “What is wrong with the notion that rather than pay a monthly check sitting on their ass, that we require them to sit at a toll booth and collect toll money, or pick up debris on the road way? I know this will piss some of you off but why pay for these services now when we can employ a person already getting a free lunch and more bang for this buck. “
I have to say my husband would go for this, as he sits “warehoused” in his cubicle day-after-day, wanting something to do! There are no classes where he is, and he has put in for every job in the prison system, to just be ignored. All he wants is something to do! I think this is a great idea!
I agree with DeathBreath’s posting. I did not vote Rick Perry, and I feel that no one else should have either! What has HE done for Texas lately, but steal from us?

Anonymous said...

Deb you said it all! The prisons are very bad. I have seen with my own eyes! Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

The total cost of having a person on probation in a specialized case load such as drug court, mentally impaired, or other case load is not as cheap as you may believe.

Most of the probationers in the Bexar County Drug Court Program are on numerous social welfare programs. The probation officers find these programs and encourage the probationer to get the money. Drug Court was originally designed for a one year period but Judge Glen has many people on the program for years. He keeps them on probation instead of revocation to make it look like the program is more successful than it really is.

The drug court probation officers have a very low caseload. This means a lot of salary money is being spent to supervise very few people.

Every year drug court and the new veteran,s court send people out of state to "train". This cost the tax payer a lot of money. I doubt that going to training in sunny California is any better than training in each departments local area.

Grits, if all these expenditures were added up I doubt the cost would be less than prison.

Anonymous said...

In Bexar County CSCD-on November 15 of 2010. Yes, just two months ago the judges and our new ghost of a chief gave the managers and administrators a 3% raise. So so smart when they knew these cuts were coming. Officers have been there 8 years with no raise! Yes, they got the lege 7% but their pay is 31,000 for an officer at 8 years. Thats why officers leave all the time! Who the heck really cares about cuts in bexar once you get there you cannot wait to leave. You have kids straight out of college trying to change a 3 time felon with a drug problem. You need professional's in this field with good resources then prison reductions will happen!
I watch daily as people run around making crazy decisions on offenders lives that have no bearing to the crime or their problem. Just a bunch of young inmature officers trying to get people off their caseload.

Anonymous said...

Hey Deb, maybe your hubby will take the right road after learning about prison. It should not be a cakewalk, many folks are there of their own accord. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

12:37 Just because they are in prison does not they mean they are not a human. They are still loved by their family members. You dont know the circumstances behind anyone's reason for incarceration. We already know that just because you are in prison does not mean you are guilty in Texas. So leave Debbie alone and stop acting like you are so righteous moron.

Anonymous said...

I am right with you Deb. Don't pay any attention to those folks that are clueless.

Anonymous said...

Rats tend to run together, prison is no different.

LOU said...

Hey Grits. I enjoyed your take on this and now I have something to read about. I thought all of these cuts were illegal as well as immoral. I guess the LLB and TDCJ hasn't read the same United States Supreme Court System that I am. As was commented on the newer blog: it's going to cost us more in the long run. I was hoping to get a job at TDCJ soon, but I will still have to keep on borrowing money to go to school to maintain teacher certification. I see WISD as an alternative to HeadStart, which is an equally important program. I am too old and too tired to work with small children. WHAT ABOUT ME?

Anonymous said...

you are an idiot 3:34

Anonymous said...

343: If there was any substance to you, you would not be working for the prison system. Rats do draw together.

Anonymous said...

4:17 says:

"If there was any substance to you, you would not be working for the prison system."

This sentiment is heard often on Grits for.... --haven't you noticed?

Elitist can't imagine anyone doing regular work so they often express contempt for those who work in jobs like corrections. They think: "trailer trash--beneath my contempt."

This gives you a hint as to what these elitists are all about.

Anonymous said...

Truth and jealously becomes you. Get a real job.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Everybody, try to focus your energy and comments on the budget instead of trashing people you don't know.

Stay on topic and stop the name calling, please, or I'll just shut down this comment string.

Anonymous said...

Senate has released their Budget Proposal. Much less cuts in this proposal. Still cuts but much less.

This process will go on until June, July, maybe later. It is way to early in the game to really know what will happen.

In 2003, budget proposal cuts were at a much higher rate (50% for Adult Probation as a matter of fact) and those proposed cuts never came to fruition. The adult probation system continued to move forward attempting to change offender behavior just like it will in this next biennium.

Adult probation will never go away. It is the best thing TDCJ has going for them but it always seems to get the short end of the stick. This is one reason why Adult Probation Departments should be permitted to de-consolidate away from the burden of the umbrella called TDCJ.

IMO, the general public is basically ignorant about what a difference community corrections makes in all of our communities -- that is unless Joe Q. Public's family member is accused of a crime and it is realized the limitation of exposure in the criminal justice system is only going to happen with a probated sentence.

Prosecutors and defense counsel need adult probation as do Judges. The whole infrastructure of the criminal justice system at the Courthouses across the State would crumble without the alternative to prison whose name is adult probation.

Anonymous said...

Adult probation, like the TYC scheme, has proven to be worthless. A waste of state funds, replace or dismiss the entire program and place the leadership in jail.

Anonymous said...

9:27 your right on one hand. I've seen so many worthless programs, like family partnership what a joke.Even worse Vernon State, OMG im still mind screwed over that place.Dealt with alot of rude, very unprofessional Po's. Also tyc, well I could say alot. But on the other hand. Cutting pay to Po's are County programs. When we are so limited now.And some Po's already frustrated their hands are tied now, and limited. Now pay cuts.I have seen a few of my sons Po's get very frustrated because they had no resource for my kid.Then had some that just did not give damn.You know they already change po's like underwear, how will it be now? My advice to my son, just do what's ask of you. With using as little resources the State has.These cut's are not fair to anyone involved. And mainly to the one's that might really wont change coming back to the free. This just might trip them up. I can see more violation of probation in the future. Just to lighten the case loads.

Anonymous said...

Another strange notion pervading whole peoples is that
the State has money of its own ... [t]he State has no
money. It produces nothing. It existence is purely parasitic,
maintained by taxation; that is to say, by forced levies on
the production of others. --Albert Jay Nock

Wendy said...

I just want to tell "Deb" that your husband is greatly exagerating how "horrible" prison is. It's boring and uncomfortable when its hot and when its cold, they don't get fed as much as most men are used to eating in the freeworld, but it's duable. It's a tough dog eat dog world in there and no cake walk but not that much different from life on the streets. Men can easily manipulate women because they know we are nurturers and we're soft. But if I believed the world was going to end every time my husband told me how awful his life was in there, hell, I'd be having a coronary all the time. The facts are the sob spent 15 years and was free for 5 when he went back and knew very well a year before he went in where he was headed. If life was that damn bad he wouldn't have gone back. Such is life. But we're not a third world country and if we take away more priviledges all we would be encouraging is more extortion and exploitation of the weaker men in prison, the hardcore criminals would still not suffer that much. Grow up all you people that think we just need to make it tougher on them. The big guns in prison will keep on keeping on and the little guys would be hurting. We'd be punishing petty thieves and low tier drug addicts

imagoogoo said...

There's the party of the rich, and there's the party of the richer. There is no party for poor and lower middle class people. Despite the fact that corporations in Texas receive $30B in tax exemptions (enough to BALANCE the budget), the budget will be balanced on the backs of the poor. Who will speak for them????

Anonymous said...

PROBATION DEPT. IN TEXAS ARE ONE OF THE FEW ENTITIES THAT ACTUALLY BRING IN SOME REVENUE TO OFFSET ALOT OF COSTS TO OPERATE AND SAVE TAX PAYERS ALOT MORE MONEY AS OPPOSED TO SENDING PEOPLE TO PRISON WHICH COSTS TAX PAYERS WITH NO TYPE OF RETURN OF ANY KIND OF REVENUE. PROBATION DEPT. SHOULD KEEP FULL FUNDING AND MORE AND OFFICERS SHOULD BE COMPENSATED BETTER!