Thursday, July 04, 2013

Women in jail, growing court dockets, corrupt cops on steroids, and the privacy impact of federal databases

Here are a few stories that caught my attention perusing the news this a.m.. Happy Independence Day!

More women among Texas jail inmates
Most Texas jails aren't overcrowded but many are feeling the pinch from a change in inmate demographics, with more women in the mix than some jails have designated facilities for them, reported the Amarillo Globe-News. This trend has been going on for a while but the article provides a good regional perspective. BTW, it had been too long since I checked in at the Texas Jail Project website, which has lots of interesting stuff up. check it out.

Women's theater troupe from Travis jail schedules public performances
Speaking of women in jail, folks in the Austin area may be interested in the first-ever public performance by Conspire Theatre (July 12-14), a women's theater workshop run by volunteers out of the Travis County jail. The event will be catered by Central Market.

Solutions to large court dockets: Fewer defendants or more judges
Harris County criminal courts suffer from lengthy dockets. Many of the judges, led by Judge Michael McSpadden, had asked the Legislature to help them by reducing less-than-a-gram drug offenses from a state jail felony to a Class A misdemeanor, getting them out of the district courts. Charles Kuffner, by contrast, says if Harris County needs more courts they should just ask the Lege for them. A tad late for both suggestions, really. No way the governor puts these issues on the call and the Lege doesn't meet for a year and a half.

Will feds pursue corrupt police steroid users as aggressively as star athletes?
The feds have indicted 17-year Arlington police veteran Thomas Kantzos on charges of using secure databases on behalf of a steroids dealer. We already know this is just the tip of the iceberg. Reported the Dallas Observer, "At least two of the license plates checks were conducted by Kantzos' Arlington PD colleagues when he wasn't at work." Will the feds go after others in the department who allegedly ran license plates for drug dealers or lied about using steroids as aggressively as they did star athletes like Roger Clemens or Marion Jones? I doubt it. See prior Grits coverage of the Arlington case.

Many more private prisons remain after Lege, TDCJ shut two down
It was an important victory for taxpayers, reformers and plain ol' common sense that Texas decided to shut down two private prison facilities this year. As this map from Texas Prison Bidness shows, however, the state remains littered with private prisons to a quite remarkable degree. And the city of McAllen just put out an RFP to possibly build another one.

Privacy impacts of federal databases
Check out this long list of links to "Privacy Impact Statements" for every criminal justice database used by the US Department of Justice/FBI.

Texas Redistricting and Election Law Blog
Off topic, but for those following redistricting issues and the potential impact of SCOTUS striking down Sec. 5 of the Voting Rights Act, check out the Texas Redistricting and Election Law Blog if you haven't already. Good stuff.


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Charles Kuffner said...

For the record, I also said that Harris County could reduce its backlog by filing fewer felony cases, especially non-violent drug cases, in the first place. My point is that the county is not incapable of affecting its fate.

sunray's wench said...

To the good people of McAllen:

The people who run your city have decided that they would like crime levels to at least remain the same, and if possible, to increase, so that they can fill a new prison on your doorstep. Is this what you REALLY want, or would you prefer less crime and a safer environment to raise your children?

Answers on a postcard to...

Anonymous said...

More women in prison? The gangs took over the neighborhoods. Look what the gangs did to the girls in the neighborhood. No wonder these girls ended up crude and vicious. They identified with and absorbed the values of the worst of the male predators that controlled the neighborhood.