Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Following Rissie Owens

The funniest scene from yesterday's joint hearing of the House Corrections and Senate Criminal Justice Committees didn't take place in the meeting room but in the hall outside, where a camera crew from KHOU Houston, a CBS-affiliate tried to get Parole Board Chair Rissie Owens to comment on Dr. Tony Fabelo and Sen. John Whitmire's statements pinning the bulk of Texas' prison overcrowding problems on her agency.

Owens, who wore a deep scowl, wanted no part of that conversation. She power-walked away from them with the reporter trailing behind repeating, "Why are you running away from me Ms. Owens? I just want your reaction."

When she got to the door of the packed room, the reporter caught up with her and repeated his question about her agency's culpability in prison ovecrowding. She grabbed his mike in his hand and shoved it downward while she tried to squirm in sideways into the room. "Please don't touch me or my microphone, Ms. Owens, I just want to ask you a question." She did let go, but by then a space opened up for her to squeeze through, and Rissie Owens was gone.

The next reporter who gets that chance, I hope they also ask Ms. Owens whether she thinks its a conflict of interest that her husband Ed is deputy director of TDCJ, and whether she thinks any of the Sunset recommendations to reduce conflicts of interest on the parole board were because of that relationship?

For those interested, here's a webcast of a Nov. 14, 2006 Sunset Commission hearing where Owens was forced to grumpily and defiantly answer some of those questions in response to Sen. Whitmire. She also responded formally, if again grumpily, in writing to the Sunset Commission's report. See more from Grits on the subject here, here, and here.


Anonymous said...

The Board of Pardons and Paroles cited in their self assessment for the Sunset Commission's report that an example of their efficiency was a low rate of recidivism among parolees. By inference, are they also taking credit for the high rate of success among parolees? Any parolee that is successful despite the fact that the entire fabric of a social safety net has been stripped away from them deserves all the credit for their success.

Then in response to the Sunset Commission's report, Ms. Owens says they can't possibly explain their failure to comply with their own guidelines. This is serious political double talk! If I were Ms. Ownes, I'd do more than run away, I'd find a new job!

Anonymous said...

I believe ms. Owens does the best job she can given her staff and fellow colleagues. let us not for get corrections in a collective agency and in ms. Owens' defense she not really playing with all-star line up.

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