Monday, August 15, 2011

Texans author guide to transforming probation departments

The Council of State Governments at the Pew Center on the States has issued a federally funded guide for probation directors coauthored by Texans Tony Fabelo and Travis County Probation Chief Geraldine Nagy. Titled "Ten Step Guide to Transforming Probation Departments" (pdf), the 72-page document "provides probation leaders with a roadmap to increase public safety in their communities and improve rates of compliance among people they are supervising."

According to the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, "Geraldine Nagy, Director of Travis County's adult probation department and one of the authors of the report, stated, 'Probation leaders across the country share the conviction that probation administrators play a key role in community safety. In Travis County, we've made preventing crime and reducing reoffending the focus of our mission statement. Everyone, at all levels of our agency, along with judicial leaders, sees recidivism reduction as our shared and topmost priority. The Ten-Step Guide captures the key lessons we learned in reforming our agency.'"


Anonymous said...

What's interesting is Fabelo is an ex-employee of TDCJ-ID who was line-item vetoed out of a TDCJ position by Governor Perry not this past legislative session but the one before that. Fabelo's position was important to TDCJ, IMO, but that is what happened. Although Travis County has taken steps in the right direction, another interesting note is TDCJ-CJAD hasn't been super supportive of Travis County CSCD Director. However, that doesn't mean everyone in community corrections needs to be just like Travis County.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Fabelo didn't work for TDCJ and his spot was line item vetoed in 2003, not 2009, if memory serves. Before that he was director of the now defunct Criminal Justice Policy Council, whose functions were taken over by LBB.

Also, from what I hear, TDCJ isn't "super supportive" of any CSCD - you could sure tell probation was the red headed stepchild when TDCJ made budget recommendations.

Anonymous said...

You're right about Fabelo, and dates for when Criminal Justice Policy Council became defunct. Thank you for the correction. This is why I like reading your blog. You are also right about TDCJ and CSCDs. It is sad. "Right on Crime" makes recommendations regarding Diversion Programs, Legislators such as Whitmire and Madden are given accolades for Diversion Programs, etc.; and still, CSCDs are not seen as important by TDCJ as other facets of TDCJ. Probation personnel are underpaid, underappreciated, seen as an entity that gets in the way by some of the Judiciary and many proosecutors, etc. CSCDs are also not well known in the community, which is sad as their first name is Community. The 10 steps to becoming a better probation departmen will require additional funding and a greater appreciation of the profession. If it wasn't for the probation fee, there would be no probation. Again, sad. Only so much cost can be passed on to the consumer, regardless if "they" committed the crime. There is too much corporate entities looking to make a profit on the population served by the CSCD. Compliance with the corporations is written as Condition of Probation, so people go to prison for failing to comply with someone who is more interested in making money than changing behavior.

Anonymous said...

I heard that CJAD gave Travis CSCD $125,000 for them to write this report. Dr. Nagy has been in adminstration too long and complete forgot what probation officers are doing everyday! Like they need a color coded system to place offenders in! The crazy thing is Nagy or Fabelo haven't introduced anything NEW!
All offenders should be getting help with their substance abuse problems, mental problems, sex problems and living skills. Don't need some committee of Judges to tell officers what needs to be done with them.
You guys forgot that Dr. Nagy was assistant director at CJAD. She has PLENTY of support from CJAD.
The problem is that Probation is basically self funded from probation fees. Any new money that is given to us from legislatures is in diversion programs which goes to large counties like Travis County. Rural areas in left out in the cold!
Grits is right about probation being the step child! Only way probation is ever going to see more funds is when they are SEPARATED from TDCJ!!! It is like oil and water! TDCJ wants defendants in jail and Probation wants to keep them out!

Anonymous said...

Fabelo was right on with his assessments and predictions of the direction the cirminal justice system was heading. Neither Perry, the Leg and the Prison-Indusctrial Complex wanted to have it stuck in their faces with real data to back it up. So Fabelo and the CJPC were sacked in favor of the LBB so they, as the money lords, could rule without an honest appraisal of their actions. The most recent Leg Session cut DP funding from CSCD programs not by rating them on their outputs and outcomes in an objective manner, but they added at least 12 additional criteria to justify the closing of six residential facilities and reducing the number of beds in two others resulting in a loss of approx 350 diversion beds. I wonder how much money that is going to cost the tax payers in the long run. We can change probation departments all we want; we can let the bean counters control who gets the money; we can watch while the Legislators protect pet projects; but can we afford to decrease funding for programs that truely divert offenders from prison?

Travis County is one of the Big Five. They have the money and vendors to provide the personnel and resources to transform their department, meanwhile rural counties have less money and no resources or personnel for the implementation of model programs. The only choice for some smaller CSCDs is to revert to basic probation strategies due to less State funding and diminishing fee payments in the economic downturn.