Now the latest example of parole-board hubris arises: The board will not any time soon implement legislation encouraging parole of illegal immigrants who're eligible for deportation, choosing to ignore a bill passed in the latest session by departing House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden. According to a notice (pdf) on the agency's website.
The Board of Pardons and Paroles continues to meet with officials of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to appropriately implement HB 2734, passed during the 82nd Texas Legislative Session. This bill intends to have the Board require illegal criminal aliens incarcerated in Texas prisons to leave the United States if granted parole release when they are legally eligible for parole release under the normal parole review process that currently exists for all incarcerated felons. The BPP continues to be concerned that many of the foreign born offenders in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice do not have final orders of deportation at the time of their parole review, but ICE has assured us they are working on that issue.This agency repeatedly exhibits remarkable chutzpah with such pronouncements. Basically the parole board is saying: "Sorry, we're just not going to implement that law because we have our own policy concerns that we believe trump the Legislature's." The Lege can come back in 2013 and order them to create an "application process for incarcerated illegal criminal aliens to apply for parole release consideration" when there is an ICE detainer, but the bill author is leaving the Lege so it would be up to someone else to take up that mantle.
THERE IS NO APPLICATION PROCESS FOR INCARCERATED ILLEGAL CRIMINAL ALIENS TO APPLY FOR PAROLE RELEASE CONSIDERATION AND NO REQUESTS FOR PAROLE BASED ON THIS LEGISLATION WILL CONSIDERED BY THE BOARD NOW OR IN THE FUTURE. When implemented this law will be just an additional required condition of supervision for those offenders with ICE detainers in effect at the time of their release. (emphasis in the original)
This bill was mentioned in an article by Mike Ward this week as a possible source of budget relief for Texas' chock-full prisons. After all, this was among the few, significant bills passed this year enacting policy changes to reduce inmate numbers, which are rising beyond capacity. But clearly from this notice, TDCJ and legislators must look elsewhere in the near term to reduce costs. The parole board just looked at Madden's bill, turned up their nose with a sniff, and said, "Sorry, we ain't doing it."
Grits finds that attitude and practice as remarkable as it is frustrating: I can't think of another agency that ignores the Legislature and courts with such impunity and gets away with it as often as does the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. I'm looking forward to hearing this discussed during the agency's Sunset review next year. If anybody needs a major, 12-year tune-up during Sunset it's this arrogant bunch.