Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why is John Bradley smiling? ... and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that may interest Grits readers from a busy week in which the legislative picture for 2015 began to gain some clarity.

A case study in faulty sex-offender registration restrictions
Not long after testifying at the Legislature on the unfairness of sex-offender registration conditions, Fresh off a Soros fellowship, and just a couple of weeks after testifying before the Texas Legislature, activist Josh Gravens' faces prison again for a sex-offender registration violation. See an account of his alleged new offense by an eyewitness.

Somewhere in Palau, John Bradley is smiling
Williamson County politics is sort of a cesspool and DA Jana Duty has been feuding with the local establishment for a decade. So it's hard to tell from the coverage whether a judge's threat to hold her in contempt for violating a gag order has subtexts beyond the immediate issues in the case. Regardless, somewhere in Palau, John Bradley is smiling.

Newsflash (not!): DPS withholds answers from reporters
I'm not sure it's news that the Department of Public Safety fails to give reporters information even when they obviously know and could easily provide answers to their questions, but it's now proven.  Given that DPS provides the Legislature dubiously overstated information, who is really surprised?

Conservative views on threat from government inform left-right reform coalitions
Polling re: Jade Helm shows 45 percent of Americans fear their government. Grits harbors no concern at all from an in-country military exercise, Greg Abbott's pledge to monitor the situation notwithstanding. But for good or ill, it's this underlying political reality that makes left-right coalitions on criminal-justice reform possible in the current environment. If conservatives fear a hypothetical police state may be turned on them, they're a little more careful to limit police power and preserve constitutional protections.

Bill would require in-person visit option at (most) county jails
The House passed legislation to require jails to offer in person visits, but grandfathering facilities built in the last few years that only include video. The MSM coverage did a good job on this. I don't like the amendment - and I suspect some or all the grandfathered facilites previously had in-person visits and could revert more easily than they're pretending - but I understand why it would be  necessary to pass and it limits future harm.

Passing more unconstitutional statutes: Revenge Porn edition
A bill banning revenge porn also made it across the threshold out of the Texas House and into the Senate before Thursday's deadline, but Mark Bennett says the version passed can't survive constitutional challenge. That doesn't mean it won't become law, anyway, just that Mark won't soon find a shortage of First-Amendment-challenged legislation to blow up in court. It could be possible to write a constitutional revenge-porn statute but there's no evidence this is one.

Late train on Driver Responsibility surcharge reform
Rodney Ellis' bill to repeal the Driver Responsibility surcharge has morphed into a version of a now-dead House bill to eliminate driver license suspensions associated with the program. It's passed out of committee but will need to hurry to catch the late train. Both reform bills in the House this session died on the calendar Thursday night.

Don't double down on stupid
The Houston Chronicle unwisely suggested giving the GR portion of Driver Responsibility surcharges to trauma hospitals in addition to the 49.5% of the money they get now, which Grits thinks is a terrible idea. We need to wean them off that funding source, not double down on it. As I wrote in the comments, "The state needs to find a more stable means of funding hospitals - the larger point of the article with which I wholeheartedly agree - and stop pretending Texas can pay for them by mulcting poor people. Texas should abolish the DRP and expand Medicaid to cover hospitals' indigent care - that's the real solution."

Polunsky inmates made Willie Nelson a badass guitar
From Willie's blog:
 How awesome is that?


Anonymous said...

There are two types of contempt: criminal and civil. Just because the setting is a criminal case does not mean you can't be in civil contempt.

Anonymous said...

Jana Duty may be bad but she was better than John Bradley. Was Bradley better than Ken Anderson?

Wilco is (slowly) heading in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for update on the driver surcharges bill. I keep hoping they will do away with this BS but once the GOV gets taste of $$ they don't let go.

DEWEY said...

"A case study in faulty sex-offender registration restrictions"...


On a side note, in Houston, where I register, we are supposed to call 30 days in advance to make an appointment. For the past FOUR YEARS, after calling for five consecutive business days (each year),and leaving a message, my calls were not returned, resulting in a two to two and a half bus ride (each way)just to make an appointment !! Then do it again to register.

CS McClellan/Catana said...

Willie Nelson's guitar made on Polunsky's death row? By prisoners in solitary confinement, who have no access to either the tools or materials it would take? It would be interesting to know whether this is a hoax or pure ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Those poor sex offenders. The whole issue is so politicized and yet they'll find almost zero sympathy from any political party. Whether through misinformation or disinformation, they are a group who are easy targets for anyone. And what can they do, starting an organization to correct the misinformation which will be compared to NAMBLA, and who would dare to be associated with something like that. Even the resident GFB cop hater will often use the tactic to increase his base by posting links to some Facebook page purporting to document child sex crimes committed by police officers. Those poor sex offenders...

George said...

@ Anonymous9:27, Poor fool, it is people, or should I say, sheeple, like you who believe the propaganda that is constantly being circulated about sex offenders and their purported danger to society.

Either you are the obstinate, "hard on crime", conservative T-shirt Christian wantabe, a follower of the status quo beliefs concerning people on the registry or you are as ignorant as your comment indicates. Quite possibly both would apply.

You are exactly the type of person that our political leaders, and those who make money off of the hysteria surrounding crimes of all nature but especially sex related crimes, target to maintain their control over the minds of their constituents. Constituents who either don't know how to use their own minds and search for the real truth or are complicit in it all.

You won't really understand until you or someone you love lands on this registry list. Then you will see how this affects every aspect of your life, as well as your families. The list will continue to grow, and grow, and grow until it reaches the critical point where society will have to face the consequences of what they have allowed to happen, just like the German people during the '30's and early '40's, like our own federal government's passing of laws that disallowed rights to people of color stating that they could not live in certain neighborhoods, etc.. Deja vu all over again.

Poor fool...

Anonymous said...

Wow, George, you certainly have a complete lack of comprehension skills.

Anonymous said...

How crazy to believe inmates on death row could make a guitar for Willie Nelson, when they are confined to their cell 23 hours a day.

Wow I wonder what they did with the saw blades after they cut the wood, perhaps hid them with the knife blades used to cut leather..........

George said...

@9:27, I stand behind every single word that I wrote in relation to your comment.

You began and ended your comment with "Those poor sex offenders", leading most people who think for themselves that the wording in between that phrase is predicated by such phrase. It seems to me that it is in a mocking manner and to mock someone is derisive and an attempt to make light of their plight.

You don't respect the plight of the sex offender thus my response to you in the manner that you felt lacked comprehension.

You are the one who lacks comprehension skills.

Boffin said...

The guitar is not unreasonable. While the Polunsky unit houses the death row, it also has other security levels, and the builders noted on Willie Nelson's blog are not on death row.

The TDCJ website says this unit has programs in transmission repair, HVAC, and cabinetmaking. With time and dedication anything is possible.

CS McClellan/Catana said...

Boffin, yes, Polunsky has other units besides death row. Did you bother to look at the entry on the blog? It specifically claims that the source of the guitar is death row.

Boffin said...

Yes, I looked up the entry on the blog, and looked up the two men who are credited with the work to find they are not on death row.

And no, the entry does not specifically claim anything except the men were inmates at the Polunsky unit.