Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whitmire: Save hundreds of millions by giving credit for time supervised on parole

Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire has a bill up today in his committee, SB 883, that would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars over the next several years.

The bill would give parolees "time credit for the period of time spent on parole ... till the time of noncompliance, regardless of the amount of time spent on conditional release." In other words, if an inmate is paroled with ten years, gets through nine of them successfully, then is revoked in the tenth, under current law that person goes back to prison for the full ten years. Whitmire's bill would give credit for the time spent on supervision prior to being revoked.

According to the fiscal note, the bill would save $673.5 million over the next five years from reduced incarceration costs (even more in the out years), but Whitmire said savings wasn't his primary motivation. Instead, he said, he thinks it's simply "fair" to give credit for time spent under supervision. A speaker testifying for the Texas Public Policy Foundation called the approach "incentive driven," which is a good way to put it. The bill was left pending but this is the type of legislation that could actually begin to make a serious dent in TDCJ's baseline budget and let them start to seriously talk about prison closures in the near term.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh....now THAT will REALLY encourage those parolees to abide by the terms and conditions of their release!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

4:02, If they re-offend quickly, they'll still serve a longer stint. After the first few years, though, reoffense rates decline a great deal. Those last few years on supervision aren't really when you're worried about noncompliance, it's much more on the front end.

Anonymous said...

how about cutting the length of parole the same way? Example sentenced for ten serve six, complete a year w/ no infractions and get some measure of parole good time....for all not just non 3g. If you can make it a year...you are probably going to do right...

Anonymous said...

As a former staff employee of TDCJ I have felt that the current system was about as unfair and inequitable as a parole system could ever be. It is encouraging to see this bill introduced, even if it won't be acted upon this session. At least it's a start, and I intend to encourage the state government to support its passage.

Michael said...

This is the bill I was talking about, Scott. I sure hope this bill is brought back up for more comments and a vote. I mean, it is a no-brainer. Why would we pay for, say, an additional 8 years of supervision of an offender beginning on the back-end of his sentence in, say, 2035?? Either he or she is a threat to society and has already received a fresh life sentence for a new offense since, or they pose no threat to society at all warranting an additional day beyond their sentence. Either way, there is no need to pay for supervision for an additional amount of time beyond the amount judges, juries, and prosecuting attorneys intended the individual to serve to begin with.

Texas is the only state in the nation with such a policy. The federal courts have approved of the policy, comparing it to a federal statute repealed 20 years ago that is incomparable to Texas' scheme.

If legislators are serious about cutting the budget, this is a freebie.

Anonymous said...

It isn't entirely true to say that the current law requires someone who is released with 10 years to do and gets sent back after doing 9 on the streets to have to start over, but that is definitely the case for many offenders . . . depending on their conviction. Under the current code, offenders with (basically) non-3g offenses would get that credit.

Anonymous said...

Was there anything mentioned on what would happen to offenders currently serving time for parole violations, or only future violators?

sunray's wench said...

It's a great start. If this gets through, it makes me more confident that eventually all inmates will also receive time credits for good behaviour while in prison - another simple saving that TDCJ could make.

rodsmith said...

sounds like a no-brainer to me!

Atticus said...

it's simply "fair" to give credit for time spent under supervision."

The next logical step is to give credit for time successfully served under supervision on probation BEFORE violating the terms, being revoked, and entering prisons.

Michael said...

To answer your question, Anonymous, there is/was no retroactive order included with this bill. Thus, the change in law would only apply to those who were revoked after its enactment. On that note, though, can everyone imagine the additional years of supervision costs taxpayers would leave on the table if there were a retroactive order? Parole revocation rates 10 years ago were 3-5 times higher than they are today, when they were revoking folks for spitting on the sidewalk and sending them back for another 5-8 years

wlulre said...

Sure would like to see SB883 be retroactive. My son could be released but instead he just got another parole setoff. His original 20 year sentence ended in 2009. Now serving the years he was not credited for technical violation. Retroactive or not, contact the Senators on the Criminal Justice Committee and your own Senator in support of passage of SB 883.

Troy said...

The State of Texas would save almost that much in one year if they would get people OUT in a timely manner. It is obscene that Texas takes a year and a half after they are granted parole to release people from prison. It costs $17K+ per prisoner to keep them in and 30,000 are released on parole each year... do the math.

Anonymous said...

Does this SB883 bill include people that were on probation and had their probation revoked on a technicality?

Anonymous said...

Could save even more money at county level for people arrested and placed on bond supervision programs requiring that they wear a GPS monitor. They should probably be credited for time served while under GPS supervision anyway because that really is punishement isn't it? Ironically with bond superivision programs it is punishment without due process before conviction of an offense.

Anonymous said...

I could not agree with this bill more! My husband was arrested for a "technical" parole violation after serving 6 1/2 years SPOTLESSLY on parole. His parole was revoked. He did not reoffend or commit a new crime; it was a TECHNICAL violation! The 6 1/2 years he served have been added back onto his sentence. Our judicial system is broken. It does not reward an offender for good behavior. We had now lost the meager retirement he had managed to build up in those 6 1/2 years and our family is facing severe financial difficulties; meanwhile, he has now been re-incarcerated for an additional 17 months. The only problem with this bill is that it will not encompass those who are currently incarcerated and have already lost their credit for parole time served.