Cuts to juvie probation
For starters, though the Sunset Commission recommended merging the Texas Youth Commission with the Juvenile Probation Commission and shifting more youth to community supervision, the base budget actually slashes funding for juvenile probation overall by 13.5%, with most of the cuts concentrated in funding for progressive sanctions and "community corrections services." The Youth Commission would close three facilities under the proposed budget, but shifting more youth to counties implies they'll need more resources to deal with them, not less.
Funding for Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs (for students with disciplinary problems in public schools) will be cut from $79 to $59 per day.
Treatment, diversion take big hits at TDCJ
The Department of Criminal Justice has been asked to cut nearly $700 million from adult corrections, almost all of it in community supervision programming: Basic probation funding would be cut nearly 25%, while funds for diversion programming would decline 21%. "Treatment Alternatives to Incarceration" took one of the biggest proportional hits, at a 90%+ reduction. Funding for special needs offenders would decline around 46%. Further, post-secondary and vocational training in prison as well as Project RIO, which is aimed at preparing ex-offenders for employment, would all be zeroed out under the proposed budget.
Overall, a great deal of the 2007 probation programming credited nationally with reducing Texas' prison population is simply deleted from this first draft of the budget. For reasons frequently discussed on this blog, it's unwise and unworkable to make such deep cuts in probation without the prison population expanding significantly in the near term.
No more TDCJ pay hikes
Central administration at TDCJ will take an 11% cut, but the executive director and the chair of the Board of Pardons and Paroles will get to keep raises they received in 2010 (2.6% and 10%, respectively). Overall, TDCJ will see a pay freeze: "The Department of Criminal Justice shall not pay salary adjustments related to the career ladder in fiscal years 2012 and 2013. The individual rate of compensation for ... employees in the career ladder system shall not exceed the rate of compensation for that individual at the end of fiscal year 2011."
Untenable cuts to medical care
The budget proposes a more than 18% cut in medical care at frontline TDCJ units, despite the fact that the amount budgeted last biennium for health care was a whopping $61 million short of actual costs. Psychiatric care in prisons and pharmacy expenses would both be cut about 14%. In-prison substance abuse treatment would be slashed. Overall, medical costs per offender day in the budget would decline from $7.67 in 2011 to $5.84 in 2013 - a 24% decrease which will challenge the agency to a) provide constitutional levels of healthcare and b) maintain a price point that will keep UTMB providing services. They've threatened to cancel the contract if the state won't increase compensation for inmate healthcare.
A bizarre contradiction on parole
There's a flat-out bizarre element to the Board of Pardons and Paroles' budget given that HB1 would shutter the Central Unit and eliminate more than 1,500 private prison beds: Cuts to the parole board would cause the agency to process more than 6,000 fewer parole cases each year, which would immediately boost the prison population (unless front-end diversion programming, which is also slated for cuts, were expanded instead). Parole officer caseloads would shoot up from 62 per PO to 87, according to the proposed budget. Whoever wrote this section doesn't understand: It's simply not possible to let out fewer people each year, keep the same number coming in, and cut the overall number of prison beds. Something's got to give.
More backed up blue warrants
County sheriffs concerned about the expense from housing offenders held on "blue warrants" for alleged parole violations will be dismayed to learn of a proposed 15% cut in funds for processing parole revocations, a cut which will pass on extra incarceration expenses to counties.
Reduce inefficiencies in parole process
One new and welcome element in the budget is the requirement of a study to
evaluate and identify process inefficiencies related to parole review and offender release that is contingent upon successful completion of an assigned rehabilitation program. A report including the results of the study shall be submitted to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's Office not later than January 1, 2012. The report shall include recommendations and strategies to better align parole votes, program start dates, and offender releases.That said, in the context of the rest of the budget this strikes me as unrealistic. How can parole be made more "efficient" while fewer cases are processed for release, parole officer caseloads grow, and funds for revocation hearings are slashed? Even if they find efficiencies, there seemingly won't be enough warm bodies available to implement the recommendations.
Not later than December 1, 2012, the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Department of Criminal Justice shall submit to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's Office an update to include actions, if any, implemented since the initial report. The update shall include savings associated with any actions taken to reduce delays in releasing paroled offenders who have completed an assigned rehabilitation program.
Counties to pay jail inspectors
The Commission on Jail Standards will stop using general appropriation funds to inspect county jails and begin charging fees to counties to pay for the service.
RELATED: Corrections budget cuts concentrated in community supervision, set TDCJ up to fail