Technical revocations are when people's probation or parole is revoked for rules violations or failing to fulfill conditions of release, not commission of a new crime.
In an era when prisons are over-bloated and budget-cutters are looking to cut costs, the number of technical revocations to prison seem ripe for reduction. According to the GEER report, "In fiscal year 2015, 50.0 percent of offenders entering Texas prisons entered as a result of ... revocation."
These days, technical revocations are mainly a probation problem. "Since the implementation of diversion initiatives in Texas, revocations in the parole population decreased dramatically." But, "In contrast to the significant decreases in parole revocations, revocations from community supervision have remained largely consistent." In 2015, 5,608 parolees were revoked en toto, with 910 of them for technical violations. On the probation side, 24,062 felons were revoked, with technical violations making up 51.4 percent of that number (12,362). So it's probation driving the revocation numbers.
A 2007 study, the report noted, found that 94.3 percent of probation revocations led to incarceration in a state jail (52.4 percent) or prison (41.9 percent).
Supervised Felons - Probation
Ironically, all these revocations are occurring while recidivism is relatively low. "For the fiscal year 2007 release cohort, the five-year recidivism rate for offenders supervised on parole is 37.0 percent, and the rate for the fiscal year 2010 cohort of offenders on community supervision is 28.1 percent. Moreover, people on probation are "substantially more likely to recidivate based on misdemeanors."
- The 2007 treatment reforms succeeded in reducing technical violations on the parole side, but probation departments and local judges stubbornly persist in revoking probationers for technicals at high rates.
- The extent of the problem varies department to department, with a handful of probation agencies revoking disproportionately more people.
- New policies and incentives must be created to reduce technical probation violations since existing structures from the 2007 reforms aren't doing the trick. Funding the SB 1055 program passed by the Lege in 2011 would be a good start, incentivizing departments to punish low-risk offenders in the community.