Sunday, February 04, 2007

Carl Reynolds: Good conduct time, parole, give prisoners behavor incentives

Some of the less popular aspects of the criminal justice system can be pretty darn important to those who work in it, so says Texas Office of Court Administration Director Carl Reynolds in the second edition of Courtex, a newsletter billed as "Texas Judicial Branch News." (Hat tip to Doc Berman for the heads up.)

There are quite a few interesting tidbits sprinkled throughout the article, but to highlight just one, I was particularly interested to read his perspective on parole and "good conduct time" for offenders. Before takng his current job, Reynolds served twelve years as General Counsel to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, where, he writes:
I learned that a correctional agency has an inherent interest in maintaining some otherwise unpopular features in state sentencing laws - good conduct time and parole - that provide “back end discretion,” and therefore some behavioral incentive during incarceration. This is the enduring lesson of the state jail sentencing scheme, which does not provide any such incentive, and has proved challenging to implement as a result.


Anonymous said...

There are very few incentives of any kind at the moment for most TDCJ inmates. The bottom line question that should be asked all the time of any official making new laws for inmates is simply this:

do you want them to be productive citizens again or not?

Prison is NOT a deterrant. Even the death penalty is NOT a deterrant. If it were, TX wouldnt have anyone incarcerated or on DR. Prison is a place we send people who have broken the rules of our society. Prison is society's chance to help those people make different choices in the future, for ALL our sakes. But all stick and no carrot just makes the donkey kick.

Quismada said...

Excellent observation sunray's wench. The vast majority of prisoners in Texas WILL be released at some point and without meaningful rehabilitation they are forced to re-enter society with a big kick. Frankly, when (not if) they move into my neighborhood I would feel much better knowing they received any and all forms of rehabilitative programs while incarcerated. I guess the big question is: why can lay people see this need and law maker's can't?

Anonymous said...

Why was good conduct time and work time taken away for TDCJ Inmates? Whose idea was this? They all receive this but are forced to sign it back to the TDCJ upon release. What purpose does this serve?

Is is a wonder people who are incarcerated come out of prison angry and disheartened? They are treated with abuse, neglect as far as medical care, no respect as a human and then knowing they are obtaining good conduct time and work time and have to sign it back and this does not even go toward their parole time, and you wonder why some go right back to a life of crime?

Hello Legislators pay close attention especailly Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov Dewhurst, treat people as the Lord instructed and you will not need more prisons, stop doing the work of the devil. Follow the Golden Rule. You will find it is much nicer to be kind to people than to treat them with disrespect and cruelty. It is not your job to judge others, that is the job of God Almighty. Give back good time and work time and clear out prisons and you would not even have to think of building more units, which you can not even staff the ones you presently have. The employees are mistreated by you which comes back down on Inmates. Think this over and remember God is the true Judge, not you two or those Legislators who have no clue. We the people of Texas are tired of this and when election time rolls around again, some of you will be reminded of your actions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you quismada. I'm not only a lay person, but a foreigner as well :)

What I really dont understand is who on earth thought that giving someone X years for a drug related crime, and then not allowing that person to even apply for some kind of NA or rehab course until they are due for a parole chance, and THEN have the parole board tell them they cant have parole because they havent done the course, was a good idea?

Do we have names? Are these people accountable for the extra money now needed in taxes from Texans to keep these inmates incarcerated? If not, why not?

And dont get me started on education for inmates! Those over 40, as long as they have their GED, have to fund their own education while in TDCJ. And if they cant pay at the time, then it's added to the parole fees, should they ever get parole of course. So not only do they come out with the stigma of being an ex-con, but also with an extra financial debt, that had they been paid for their work while incarcerated, they might not be carrying once they get out. They have to pay their fees.... they cant get a job, thanks in part to the 100+ laws in Texas that exclude them from work, so what are they likely to do?

I never thought I'd ever be so involved with such a rediculous system!