Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Midland judges mad at state treatment program cuts

Judges in Midland are unhappy that drug treatment funding was cut in Texas' budget for the upcoming biennium. A story from the Midland Reporter-Telegram opens:
Midland County officials are appealing to the state for reconsideration after it stripped $1.2 million in funding from the Court Residential Treatment Center and effectively closed the facility.

"This is devastating for us," said Jed Davenport, director of the Community Supervision and Corrections Department.

The 50-bed facility is one of eight statewide being closed, Davenport said. Other facilities sustained a reduction in funding. Between the cuts, 343 beds in Texas are being lost for substance abuse treatment through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Judge Rodney Satterwhite, of the 441st District Court, said they were alerted on July 11 of the closure and received a formal letter explaining the CRTC's defunding on Monday.

"It provides a valuable service to the citizens of Midland County," he said, speaking to county commissioners. "We as the judges of Midland County have decided we are going to appeal the decision."

Davenport said historically 73 percent of medium-risk inmates and 61 percent of high-risk inmates who complete the CRTC program are still clean three years later. This year, they are on track to have a success rate of 88 percent or higher, he said.

The program includes an intensive treatment period, counseling, support groups and measures to prepare inmates for life after treatment, such as GED attainment and work experience.
This results directly from the decision by the Texas Legislature to use money from closing the Central Unit to pay for private prison beds instead of funding treatment and diversion programs. Penny wise; pound foolish. I don't know who they think they're going to "appeal" the decision to, though. The 82nd Legislature has ended and there's no way in hell Governor Perry would call a special session over that. A more realistic approach might be to solicit grant funds from the Governor's Criminal Justice division to pay for treatment.


A Texas PO said...

Unfortunately, we all saw this coming months ago. A few years back we had a Legislature that was focused on smart probation reforms with a treatment focus. Those reforms worked so well that we ended up with "too many" treatment options for probationers. I really wish the closures of these facilities would have created regional CRTCs rather than just closing random facilities. After all, having family support while going through drug rehab can be important. But when Junior from Abilene is sent to Corpus Christi for treatment, it makes it really difficult for family to play an active role in the recovery. Maybe in 2013?

Prison Doc said...

It's easy to be angry with the Legislature for this, but unfortunately what I find is that the average Texas citizen truly does support the "lock 'em up" approach, justifying that attitude with the silly "they should have thought of that before they broke the law" excuse.

Very frustrating.

I don't know what the answer will be, but I fear it will be a long time in coming. Seems that most folks who support treatment are those who have witnessed the pathologies of the criminal justice system at every level.

Anonymous said...

It is great to hear the acknowledgement of the need for treatment programs from the justice side. The savings in the budget may feel good to those that authored the budget there is obvious blinders in place to see any distance down the road as to the consequences and the ultimate increase in funds spent.

DEWEY said...

Prison Doc said it much better than I could . And he is right.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Prison Doc,
You said a mouthful there sir.

The basic problem is that we are going to provide those beds whether we like it or not. Depends on whose budget they are pulled from.
If you do not provide treatment beds for Substance abuse and MHMR then you will end up providing corrections beds for the majority of those people.
At that point you have placed them all in CRIMINAL COLLEGE. Laugh and scorn all you want but that is the bottom line, and most of us know it.
So it would seem that we would want to make the wisest choice and help people before they give in to hopelessness. If society is going to spend the money anyway, and make no mistake, we are, then do the right thing for these families and individuals as well as society at large.
Fund the treatment beds and ReEntry programs to try and stem the current tide of helplessness and hopelessness. Providing people with a sense of hope and pride will change our society for the better.

Anonymous said...

The comments here are correct. The scary part is that no one intended to cut treatment beds. The legislature went to bat for probation and did a good job of restoring funding to the point it was at last session. The problem is that the Governor wont admit that the "Texas Plan" is as sad as a Perry bid for the Presidency. Putting off the problem again and again. We will be facing worse cuts in 2013 at this rate.

Steve said...

The real shame of this is that Jed Davenport became the director in Midland County last year and immediately set about trying to make improvements in the CRTC program. He worked hard to bring about changes, but it seems to no avail. In some ways, it's very difficult to determine the quality of a program because the "results" aren't really known until you see how offenders are doing two years after they leave the program. However, there are tools to measure if a program is using evidence-based practices, but TDCJ-CJAD has no staff to make those determinations. Instead, they are making decisions on which programs to fund using measures that have only a slight relationship to quality of the program.

Anonymous said...

Midland county never supported the CRTC program. Check out the arcived docs in the local newspaper from a year ago. The sheriff's office wanted to knoock building down for their expansion.

Jed said...

Thanks Steve,

We were just starting to see the fruits of our labor the last 3-4 months April - July of this year.

The untold story is that the local Judiciary, without notice from the State, initiated the program and department overhaul June 2010 (12 months ago and before the legislative session started). The staff, who were pushed to the limit and responded temendously, will be laid off for performing above the line.

Thanks again.

Don said...

Steve, how did LCCCF fare? I didn't know they actually closed 8 CRTC's. Do you know which ones they were besides Midland?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:37
Don't think Midland County ever wanted the program to go away, just wanted to move it to another building and could not get any assistance from the State for the move.
Today there is tremendous support for the program in Midland County and the Community.

Steve said...

The funding for the Lubbock CRTC was cut very slightly. Two years ago, we had a substantial cut because CJAD said we weren't keeping our beds full. We've been at 100% capacity for the last year, but they didn't give us more money for that.

The facilities that were open on 9/1/10 that will be closed by 9/1/11 are as follows:

Cass County RC and SATF - 72 beds
El Paso County ISF - 50 beds
Harris County SATF Program (48 beds)
Hidalgo County RC (63 beds)
Liberty County ISF (24 beds)
Midland County CRTC (50 beds)
Montgomery County SATF (64 beds)

(The bed counts may not be exact because sometimes a facility's capacity is not the same as how many beds are actually funded.)

In addition, CJAD also cut the number of funded beds for the Uvalde CRTC and the Tom Green County CRTC/SATF for women. One other change will be that the Taylor County RC is converting to an SATF.

Don said...

Thanks for info, Steve. Glad Lubbock didn't get hurt too badly.

Ted said...

so sad- typical Texas appoach to treatment- cut taxes, cut services(quietly), and run as a law and order candidate- instead, put addicts in prison run by for profit, low bid out of state corporations- and make believe the problem will just go away on its own- on another related subject, anyone driven through McAllen or Mission lately? no kiddin-gun shops on every corner- who's buyin 'em? sportsmen in the valley? all them already got all the hardware they need- a myopic legislature, stranglehold by the gun lobby,and my personal gripe- judges whose career paths are, for the most part, sadly predictable- DA office, run for the bench