Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Parole caseloads too high to monitor ex-offenders

In Dallas a TV station has a story titled "Most Texas parole officers say they are overworked," which is based on a report from the state auditor discussed on Grits a couple of months ago. A lawyer quoted in the story identified the main problem:
Attorney Joe Padian, who represents dozens of offenders who are currently up for or out on parole, said that there is a problem with supervision.

"The problem is, they need to find a way to prioritize which offenders need heavy supervision and which don't, then concentrate on watching the potentially dangerous offenders," he said.

Padian said he believes parole officers are overburdened by large caseloads that require constant supervision for offenders who don't need it.
The auditor not only found that parole caseloads are too high but that parole officers don't receive required in-service training and lack basic technology like voicemail on their telephones to help them do their jobs.

In 2007, the Texas Legislature changed the law to allow many probationers to earn their way off of probation early through good behavior. The same should be done for parolees so TDCJ can focus limited supervision resources on those who need it most. Otherwise, in the current budget environment it's almost unimaginable the agency can hire more POs, improve technology or provide officers more training. 

Reducing caseloads would strengthen supervision for those most at-risk and avoid expending resources on those who pose little threat. From a political perspective - where lessening supervision even for low-risk offenders risks allegations that you're soft on crime - who knows if it's possible? But from a policy and public-safety perspective, though, the need to reduce caseloads both for parole and probation officers borders on imperative.

One out of every 22 Texas adults is in prison, in jail, on probation or on parole: There's no way the state can supervise nearly 5% of the population effectively through the criminal justice system, even in economic good times, much less when facing a $15 to $27 billion budget shortfall. We'd all be safer if limited resources were focused on supervising the highest risk offenders instead of trying to keep tabs on everybody and their dog.

20 comments:

Nequam Compleo said...

Whatever happened to the "annual reporting" that used to exist? 20 years ago, if the parolee qualified, they were able to report annually in writing to the parole board and not have to actually visit a parole officer. I knew a parolee at that time that was placed on annual status after having been out for less than a year, and the form he had to fill out each year was less than half a page of information. It was basically his name, number and current address. Is this not done today? Seems to me that if it's not still done, maybe it should be brought back.

Anonymous said...

First, Grits wants to close prisons and parole more inmates from TDCJID. Now, he's wanting to allow more parolees to go unsupervised. Why don't we just give up and not punish criminals at all, Grits? That would save a fortune!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:57, parolees have already been punished, so your comment makes little sense.

That said, if the state reduces the size of TDCJ, as I suspect it will have to, that increases the number of folks on parole in the near term. If parole caseloads are too high and there's no money to hire more officers, priorities must be set. Trying to supervise everyone means you're really supervising no one.

The other option is to raise taxes to hire more POs, build more prisons, etc.. Why don't you head down to the capitol and see how well your "Please raise taxes" message will play at the Lege?

Don said...

8:57 It's clear that you don't really care what the issue is; you just want to twist everything around to "prove" your point that Scott wants to release all the criminals, let them kill all the babies, steal all the money, and whatever. Why he even responds to this crap is beyond me. Why don't you come out of the cowardly "anonymous" bunker? Everybody knows it's the same person when they see one of these idiotic posts.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Don writes, "Why he even responds to this crap is beyond me."

Practice. You hear the same BS all the time from the John Bradleys of the world, so to me comment trolls are an opportunity to test rebuttals for use later when the issues are debated in the public policy arena. For that reason, ironically, I find folks like 8:57 quite helpful from the perspective of honing arguments. They can be repetitive, though, so I tend to quit responding when they start to bore me.

Texas maverick said...

If you look closely at the audit, the lack of training and equipment contributed to the inability to do the job. Any job becomes harder to accomplish if you do not have the tools need to be efficient. Generalizations don't help. Look at the specifics. My comment on the spending of 1.7 for GPS monitoring by Gov. during the race for reelection was an example IMO. A phone system with voice mail might have been purchased which improves efficiency in most offices. Give officers the tools to be more productive. Of course the news article chose the worse mug shot and horrendous case to illustrate the problem. Why not just once show the people who could benefit from "annual reporting" or other positive suggestions. Why always show the worse and not what is working.

Anonymous said...

I commented on a news site regarding this issue a couple of days ago Scott.

I see three ways to relieve the actual case load, parole people for shorter periods, not to let them out, or hire more parole officers. Technology is great, but it does not allow PO's to watch any more than they are responsible for.

What we could do on the front side is get the morons in Austin to stop passing a new 'oyster' laws every two years that puts more low level offenders in jail, and eventually the levels would come down on parole. Another thought too would be to end the bullshit lifetime parole. Either allow them to succeed, or don't let them out.

O/T have been looking at some of the introduced bills today for both houses in Austin. Never have I seen so many bullshit, money pit ideas in my life.. Republicans for Small Government? riiiggghhhtttt..

One particular item that caught my attention and made me say WTF. SCR4 .. The state of Texas stating ANYTHING to a foreign power is frivolous, stupid, and should not be tolerated. Who the hell are we to tell another country anything dealing with their internal politics? But there again, the folks in the Austin dome haven't been known as bright for a long time.

Audrey said...

Texas Mav...forgive me for the generalization I am about to make. The Texas Justice System has created this monster. It is BIG BUSINESS and eats cash and builds it fortresses to justify it appetite. Do you honestly believe all these people populating the prison are dangerous to society? I challenge you Mr. Anonymous to go out and join a Prison Ministry and just spend one day going into a prison and watch/participate in a service, then spend time afterward visiting with the inmates. I think you'd be shocked at what you'd find. How normal, respectful and engaging the majority of those people are. I had a huge awakening and a glimpse at a system that is galloping out of control. When you've got a Dallas DA candidate boasting of his conviction rate of 99.4% (while taking a free ride with Innocence Project)who is absolutley motivated to convict everybody, regardless of truth, so he can get re-elected...you've got an integrity problem...and one that feeds the monster....which ultimately falls out to parole overload. The system has lost it checks and balances.

Anonymous said...

Amen Audrey! Only a person who has been inside like you and me can make your rational comment. The rest of you , go volunteer inside and make these observations , then write your comments !

DEWEY said...

Nequam Compleo beat me to the punch. Re-instate annual report !! I did eleven years on parole, (eight of that on annual report [before it was taken away from everyone]). Didn't have to worry about parole fees, missing work to see a parole officer, made it a LOT easier for me to be a productive, tax paying citizen (I was released from parole in 2009). April 26 will be the 22nd anniversery since my release from (then) TDC. Does annual report work?? HELL YES !!!

Anonymous said...

Parole caseloads to high to monitor ex-offenders? Really? Gosh; the next "news" will be Probation caseloads to high to monitor probationers.
Food For Thought: In the last 30 years the "ledge" has met about 15 times (sessions). High caseloads have been a problem during each session. What have they done to correct this problem?
Have a nice day.

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

"I challenge you Mr. Anonymous .. " I know your intentions are good, but I believe in reality, not religion.

Someone else stated to go volunteer inside, sorry, but I cannot.

Audry, I think you read my posting wrong and I want to clarify. My posting on ways to stop parole overload are positive, not negative. I know there are good people in there, just like there are bad in there. What I have a hard time stomaching is that 'finding religion' being the only method that people use to generate sympathy. While I am sure some inmates may truly begin to believe in the bible, I also believe that a person can become better without having to do so. It is all about personal motivation.

I agree that there are too many in lockup due to bullshit, hence my oyster law comment. However, the only way Texas electeds see it is they need to hire more PO's, less people on Parole, or shorter sentences. I doubt you will ever see the day when the assholes of this state government begin to deconstruct the very system that has gotten them elected for so long. Lifetime politicians enjoy public money too much for that. And who cares about inmates, they can't vote anyway is the opinion they have.

Audrey said...

To Anonymous of 1/12 2:43pm and again 1/14 11:28am I don't think my comment was referring to you. It was directed to Anonymous of 1/12 8:57am and was probably wasted on him. I was not trying to give a Bible-lashing to anyone and agree with you ...there is a whole lot of jail house religion which is manipulative and a real turn-off. Self motivation is a key to survival and self-improvement, no doubt. Especially since rehab is non-existant, at least in the women's units.

I was suggesting the ministry way-in because there is not another way I saw for outsiders to visit general population. It was my thought that most people (especially 8:57am who is always making nasty remarks)might benefit if they ever caught a glimpse of the decency of many that are incarcerated. It is not at all the picture we are given in the media.

I actually agree with your entire post...and I remember after I posted going back expecting to be right after Texas Mav and was surprised to see your post squeezed in there. There's so many Anonymouses...one has to look for like-writing styles and personalities to try and figure out whose who.

Anonymous said...

ok, fair enough Audrey. Scott does keep us lined up at the door to post our views.. 8)

I stay with anonymous so that I don't have to keep track of usernames and passwords for the LEO's on my yearly visit. Another of the 'remedial' laws tacked onto the registry long after I had completed my time btw.

Anonymous said...

Surely we have a right to freedom of speech? Do I need to be concerned with posting my story on another blog?

Anonymous said...

"Surely we have a right to freedom of speech? Do I need to be concerned with posting my story on another blog?

1/15/2011 09:10:00 AM"

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/docs/CR/htm/CR.62.htm

Surely we do not. on top of the original name, age, address, car stuff they forced from you. By Law, if you are asked to provide online identifiers, you must do so or be charged with non-compliance. These are then sent out to online sources so that you can be banned from them. not only do we have to deal with the registry, but the US and State Governments do not want us online to inform the public of the slavery they are placing on us every year.

Time for a revolution? Yeah, it might just be.

Anonymous said...

Holy Cow! And to think I just added another chapter!

David RD said...

i think i just read in a previous article that Ms. Owens gave herself a VERY BIG raise a few months ago? maybe she could sacrifice some of her raise and train and/or hire more parole officers? sounds very reasonable to me. based on what i also read about the raises given to the "head honchos" at the TYC and DPS no wonder our state budget and level of services are in such DEEP holes!!!

Anonymous said...

Grits, I'm fairly new to your blogging site. And I would just like to say I'm grateful for the info.Whether I agree with the blogs are not,it's been a learning exp.And 2:43 I so agree with you, Probation's and Parole's are to lengthy. I have never been incarcerated, on parole, on probation. But known people very close to me who have.Like my son who is locked up now for a dirty Ua. Seriously thats all, and 1 year in jail for that. When he was on a waiting list to be put in a rehab, we were waiting on a bed. And in the mean time I was paying a private drug counsler. So these cuts are really bothering me.I just wish he could do his time.Because Parole will not be able to help him.Just like his probation in our County could not help.And I feel like a year is long enough for a vop.

Anonymous said...

Just getting a parolee on a quartley status is almost impossible- they have to be out of prison so many years,paid all court cost off etc its a lengthy list -nothing can be done if a parole fails to pay fees- During the revocation process, the parole board undermines your suggestion on the fate of a habital criminal by allowing them on the streets- It's a frustrating job but name a state job that isn't. They can't even provide us with pens, paper, supplies to do our job-