Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunset process gives public chance for input at TDCJ

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has put up a helpful page encouraging people to get involved in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Sunset process between now and the next session in 2013. A notable excerpt reads:
If you care about criminal justice reform, now is the time for you to speak up and voice your concerns. Presently, the Sunset Advisory Commission has begun its review of TDCJ and other criminal justice-related agencies, including the Board of Pardons and Paroles, the Windham School District, and the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee. Based on its evaluation, the Commission will make recommendations on how each agency can be improved or whether the agency should be abolished.

You can take part in this opportunity for improvement by letting us know what should be done to improve Texas' criminal justice agencies. TCJC has created a comprehensive guide to the Sunset process to help individuals understand the process, how they can get involved, and what resources are available.  To download a PDF version of our guide to Sunset please click this link: Policy Guide to the Sunset Review Process
, and to download a 1-page flyer on how to participate in the Sunset process, please click this link: Share Your Story - Participate in TDCJ's Sunset Review Process
If you wish to participate by filling out a questionnaire, please click the link here: Sunset Questionnaire.  We are also providing a questionnaire that is specifically directed toward incarcerated individuals.  If you would like to print a copy and mail it to someone you know, please download the PDF version by clicking here: Incarcerated Persons Questionnaire.
An agency's Sunset review typically only occurs every 12 years, so we must seize upon this rare opportunity to improve the criminal justice system. Through the Sunset process, and with your help, we can achieve the necessary reforms that can make Texas' criminal justice system a model for others.
Go here for more detail. Here's TDCJ's self-evaluation report (large pdf), here's the one (pdf) for the Board of Pardons and Paroles, there's a separate one (pdf) for the Windham School District, and one more forthcoming for the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee. Here's the home page for the Sunset Advisory Commission. 

How can you get involved (beyond filling out TCJC's questionnaires above)? Basically, start by reading the above-linked self evaluations with a fine tooth comb. If you dispute anything in them or have recommendations for reform they didn't include, put them in writing, submit them to Sunset staff, then come to the public hearings when they're announced and testify about your specific concerns. You can also present your ideas to staff at the Sunset commission or in the offices of individual legislators on the Sunset Commission. TCJC is right that the Sunset process presents unique opportunities, even if it requires playing the long game. It's an important chance to identify problems and promote solutions that won't come along again for more than a decade.


Anonymous said...

Does the Forensic Science Commission fall under this category?

Mr. Bradley would like some input...

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Nope, the FSC is not up for Sunset this time.

Deborah said...

Oh believe me Scott, I plan on responding and it won't be flattering!

Anonymous said...

Can GFB explain for us "newcomers" to TDCJ what the Sunset is, and who it is? Before I fill out any papers I would like to know who is going to read and whether they are to be trusted. Thanks

A Texas PO said...

Anon 11:47- Sunset (referring to the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission) was created by the Lege "in 1977... to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies." Essentially, all state agencies undergo sunset review every 12 years to ensure that they are fulfilling their legal mandate, mission, etc. If an agency is found to be in violation of its purpose, technically, the agency can no longer exist (unless, of course, you're TxDOT, in which case, the Lege will pass a bill to keep you in existence so they can review your head from... oh, I digress). Their site explains their process: http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/

sunray's wench said...

I would encourage everyone who has ever dealt with TDCJ or the BPP to complete and return the questionnaire, and anyone who has a loved one in a TDCJ unit to print off as many copies as you can afford and send them in to the inmate to complete and return. I've already filled mine in and received a response from the Sunset Commission office, and copies will be on their way to my husband today. If I can do it from the UK, there is no excuse for anyone in Texas not to participate.

It is only by talking with authority that anything is going to be improved.