- Texas Tribune: "Lawmakers urged to reform parole with technology"
- Report: Cutting Edge Corrections: Using technology to improve community supervision in Texas
- Texas Observer: "The conservative case against locking up minors"
- Report: Kids doing time for what's not a crime: The over-incarceration of status offenders
In the report on supervision tech, I particularly liked this suggestion for reducing incarceration based on technical violations of petty absconders:
Currently, there are more than 24,000 felony probation absconders in Texas. While they may succeed for a time in skirting their obligations to report to a probation officer when they are pulled over for a traffic violation or are otherwise apprehended, they will face the prospect of being revoked to prison. At least 35 percent of probationers revoked for technical violations (where there is no allegation of a new offense) were classified as absconders at the time. Based on the 12,287 total technical revocations in 2013, this amounts to at least 4,300 technical revocations associated with absconders, which translates into annual incarceration costs of $79 million, not counting the compounding effect over time as the revocation time served will exceed a year in most cases.Recidivism clarification
This analysis demonstrates the potential of utilizing GPS to reduce the number of technical revocations. Given that any type of GPS monitoring costs a fraction of the $50.49 per day prison cost, it is a particularly sensible option for those who were placed on probation for a non-violent offense and have failed to report, but are not assessed as a high risk of re-offending. (Citations omitted.)
In the comments to the Trib story, I offered one minor but important correction. The reporter had written that "Sixty-two percent of all Texas inmates return to prison within three years of their release. But that's not quite right.
Looking at the TPPF report, it says 62% of state jail inmates, not "all Texas inmates" are rearrested within three years, not "return to prison." State jail inmates have the highest recidivism rates of all prisoners, in part because they serve sentences day for day and leave without any post-incarceration supervision.
According to the Legislative Budget Board's latest report on the topic titled "Statewide Criminal Justice Recidivism and Revocation Rates" (pdf), the percentage of Texas prisoners who return to prison after three years was 22.6% for the most recent cohort - far lower than the national average. Among state jail inmates the number returning to prison is slightly higher - 31.1%.
The difference between rearrest and re-incarceration numbers is significant. After all, in Texas you can be arrested for a Class C misdemeanor, so many ex-offenders who are rearrested for minor offenses within three years of release do not actually return to prison.
UPDATE: The Tribune has updated its story to correct the error.