Tuesday, November 21, 2006

TDCJ Data: 70,000 Texans on probation for lowest level drug crimes

Is Texas wasting community supervision resources by focusing probation officers' attention on tens of thousands of petty drug offenders instead of more dangerous criminals?

It looks that way to me. Texas supervises 153,127 probationers for drug crimes alone, according to data obtained by the Texas Public Policy Foundation from the Department of Criminal Justice. TDCJ supervises maybe 300,000 more probationers for non-drug-related crimes.

Thanks to Marc Levin for forwarding this spreadsheet (xls) which TCDCJ compiled at TPPF's request. It breaks down the number people on probation for drug offenses in Texas by offense category. If I'm reading this right, almost 40,000 people in Texas (39,847, to be exact) are on probation for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. That's a ridiculous waste of P.O.'s time when repesat DWI offenders aren't being adequately supervised.

Another 31,000+ are on probation for possession of less than a gram of cocaine - a smaller amount than in a sugar packet in a restaurant. In Harris County, even people caught with paraphernalia containing trace, unusable amounts of a drug, e.g., on a crack pipe, are hit with felony <1 gram possession charges.

Shortening and strengthening probation for these two categories of offenders alone would affect almost 70,000 probationers - a huge number. If probation officers didn't have to handle as many of these petty cases, would they do a better job supervising more dangerous criminals? I think so, but there's only one way to find out. Try it: Reduce probation caseloads, shorten probation lengths, and strengthen probation through graduated sanctions and enhanced programming to give offenders a chance to earn their way off supervision through good behavior.

Take a look at the data for yourself and see what jumps out at you. I've only had time to take a cursory glance, but I've not seen these stats before and it looks like they may provide fodder for further useful analysis.


John D. McLauchlan said...

I've always thought that prosecuting for trace amounts was a bit harsh. Seems like if they're going to be on the hook for something more than the paraphrenalia charge, they ought to at least be diverted to treatment rather than thrown on some overloaded probation officer's caseload.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hell, in Harris County judges are taking those state jail felonies and requiring 6 months county jail time as a condition of probation!! Then they wonder why their jail is overcrowded.

Anonymous said...

". . . they ought to at least be diverted to treatment rather than thrown on some overloaded probation officer's caseload."

There has to be treatment to be diverted to for that to work. No such luck for most of this state!

Anonymous said...

Once again "" ANOTHER "" article openly showing how our system and courts have been manipulated with taught biases and fear. Those addicted to the power , fear and money of this failed drug war, will not deal with the realities and common sense needed to correct the wrongs of today. As long as we have " PEOPLE RANCHING FOR PROFIT " nothing will ever change, FACT!

Just think how much power and money the courts and DA's and all the different agencies and lawyers etc... would lose???

Truly a shame in the supposed freest country on earth, Individual freedoms and justice "" IS "" a matter of how much you can afford!!!

Just remember if we don't turn this BS around. Things will be so bad for those coming behind us. The bad days we remember today, will be the good days our young remember , compared to " WHAT WE LEAVE THEM, AND THEY ARE "" FORCED "" TO LIVE WITH"! How sad and pathetic is that!

When is enough, enough????

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

Anonymous said...

800 pound gorilla,

To some degree, I agree with what you say. But on the other hand peoples personal choices in life should be nobodies business. Those that let their actions interfere with others should not have the defense nor excuse of personal choices being the cause. Nor should those with bigoted biases and self serving beliefs and agendas be able to hold others accountable to their self imposed standards nor beliefs!

Mistakes should be studied and the reason for them shared with all, in hopes of preventing more in the future. We as a people are all different, so substances effect each differently. To hold " MILLIONS " of responsible Americans accountable and ruin their families and lives for the actions of a few, IS IGNORANT AND UN-AMERICAN!

As we see today many organizations start out with good purposes and agendas in mind, then get manipulated in to biased and self proclaimed, self righteous lobbyist. IMPO this is what happened to MADD. Those who suffered the loss of loved ones to the ignorance of a few, took the high road and started using their pain and loss to educate others to help prevent it from happening to others. Unfortunately IMHO that is no longer the case today. The organization has been hijacked in to a prohibitionist agenda, to the point the founder of it and many long time members quit!

Example are every where as to their power and new agendas. To the point our public servants believe they have the right to make their own laws, EVEN IF STATE LAW SAYS OTHER WISE??? In the great state of Texas, state laws says "" IT IS "" NOT "" illegal to drink and then drive "", FACT! Yet with the lobbying power of MADD, our tax dollars are being spent to display bold faced lies on our highway sign and TEXDOT bulletin boards across our state. We have all seen them, " DRINK AND DRIVE, GO TO JAIL ""! They put observers in court rooms to influence the DA's and Judges with the threat of their lobbying powers in up coming elections. Instead of letting justice take it due course. They have unprecedented access to the powers of government. One that if any labor organization tried to use the same to expand their beliefs and agendas, WOULD BE DEEMED ILLEGAL!!! Their lobbying power is so great, they circumvented our state laws. So that DPS, who IS NOT A BRANCH OF THE JUDICAL SYSTEM, can impose fines and tariffs, AT WILL WITH NO RECOURSE, FACT!????

Now they want to DEMAND every new vehicle has a breath analyzer on it ??? As well as taking away any ability for an American to make a first time mistake without suffering THEIR DEMANDS???

As one who has seen the results of ignorance upon others, and feel for those effected. I refuse to be lead down a path that HISTORY has already PROVEN WILL NOT WORK!

In a country based on individual freedoms and rights OF ALL, regardless of the most righteous desires and intent, POHIBITION WILL NOT WORK! Even if you disguise it as LEGISLATION!