Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Morning criminal justice headlines

I've got an early appointment then a busy morning, but here are a few headlines that caught my eye that may interest Grits readers:

Editorial support for stronger probation
The Waco Herald Tribune and the Houston Chronicle both had good editorials supporting Chairmans Madden and Whitmire's proposal for prison alternatives. My friend Ana Yañez Correa explained in the Houston story why the idea has gained traction among lawmakers, "A lot of it has to do with the amount of money that taxpayers are spending on a product that is not reducing criminal activity."

Dallas jail must cut population by 1,000
Dallas County must reduce its jail population from 7,000 ton 6,000, or else increase staffing, or the Commission on Jail Standards will make them stop accepting prisoners in three months. That's a lot of folks. The Morning News reports the County is now regretting its decision several years ago to abolish its pretrial services division. "Judges will release nonviolent low-level offenders with lower bonds, personal recognizance bonds or a notice to appear in court at a later date," reported the News, but do not have the benefit of a systematic analysis of defendants to aid their decisions. Sounds like in addition to hiring guards, Dallas County needs to get its pretrial services section back online, pronto.

The Dukes of Cameron County?
The Cameron County Sheriff told media in December he had regulators approval to build a tent jail, but now says he never talked to them and the Commission on Jail Standards must have lost the paperwork he mailed in. Yeah right.
It turns out there would be no need for a tent jail if Cameron weren't leasing jail space to the feds on an entrepreneurial basis. The Brownsville Herald rightly compared the Sheriff to Roscoe P. Coltrane.

Probation dollars unspent as legislators ask for more
Legislators are seeking answers for why the TDCJ probation department returned $25 million dollars last year that was earmarked for local probation departments. I think it's because of the probation department's flawed, per-probationer funding formula that punishes agencies if probationers successfully complete their probation requirements. As House Corrections Chairman Jerry Madden told the Statesman's Mike Ward, "It could be that programs could not be brought on line fast enough, or the programs were limited for some reason," he said. "I'm not ready to say that $24 million was a problem until I know where the funds came from and why they came back to the state."


Anonymous said...

It doesn't suprise me, Administrators constantly tell probation officers "there's no money". Why, wasn't this money spent? What was it earmarked for and who didn't spend the money they asked for?

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