Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Morning Roundup

Here are a few disparate topics from around the web that earned my interest this morning, and that you might find interesting too:

Yes, we know, it's always a crisis: No more Travis County Jail bonds
Travis County last year convinced voters to approve $65 million in jail bonds, and now they inform us that when the new jail is built out the result will be slightly fewer prisoners housed than before, probably necessitating MORE jail building. As a Travis County voter, let me be the first to say, "No, thank you. Incarcerate fewer people, please."

Hitting the bottom of the barrel on prison and jail guard recruitment
It's not just Texas prisons having a problem with guard corruption but also local jails. With "surges" in Iraq and at the border, recruiting and retention will only grow more difficult. Nobody can hire enough guards and we're dipping deeper into the bottom of the barrel.

Looking for prostitutes in Amarillo
Amarillo has seen prostitution arrests decline, but an increase in complaints about prostitution, particularly as it moved away from its historic center point on Amarillo Boulevard and out to local truck stops. I thought this report from the Globe-News was interesting because it shows our current schizophrenic approach to prostitution - without the two hands of the city communicating (for obvious reasons) the cops are chasing after the women to arrest them, while the health department is doing outreach aimed to reduce disease transmission and provide access to services to those who want out. Who would you rather find them first?

Did Texas Border Patrol Agents get a fair shake?
Doc Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy has been doing a great job shaking out the many nuances to the sentencing of two Border Patrol agents who shot an unarmed drug dealer in the back then lied about it to investigators. Today's post looks at the case from the standpoint of prosecutorial charging discretion in light of a relatively low plea offer, and rounds up Doc's excellent recent coverage.

The War on the Uninsured?
If the war on drugs were to ever end, perhaps the war on the uninsured could take it's place? The Longview News-Journal has an excellent story on the pros and cons of towing vehicles when drivers receive a ticket for no insurance. For my part, as you might expect, I hate this approach and think there are lots of better ways to solve this problem. If the state is going to mandate insurance, it should just provide it through a government program and pay for it through everybody's gas tax. Don't tell me I have to contract with a private company then declare me a criminal and tow my car if I don't comply, all the while taking money from their lobbyists. (And politicians wonder why people think they're full of s#*t!) If it's true one in five drivers don't have insurance, then officers don't have time to hunt them all down and spend countless hours dealing with their towed vehicles. Bottom line: The criminal justice system has more important things to spend its time on.

That explains it
An informant in a landmark mob case passed away in Arkansas, which apparently is where old snitches go when they're put out to pasture. Maybe that's who the governor wanted to protect us from?


Anonymous said...

On the 'no insurance' issue: in the UK, it is a criminal offence to drive while uninsured, and you can bet the police come down hard on those they catch doing it. It is in no way state subsidised; the opinion is, if you can afford to drive, then you can afford the insurance too. There is no excuse. Its just one of several 'taxes' drivers have to pay here.

Anonymous said...

It is a criminal offense to drive without insurance here in Texas, as well. With the status quo, responsible drivers subsidize the uninsured by purchasing "uninsured/ underinsured motorists" coverage, which pays off in the event that the insured is hit by the uninsured. Pedestrians & bicyclists are SOL- there isn't insurance that the responsible can buy to protect them from losses due to the actions of the uninsured.

Regarding the jail bonds, maybe we need to make at least 5 new jail beds available- for the County Judge and County Commissioners, who defrauded the electorate & taxpayers with the last bond package.

Anonymous said...

Insurance laws were writting by insurance companies for their benefit, not ours.

In an ordinary contract, a party reneges at its peril.

With insurance, the customer cannot be late on a payment, and the company can cancel at any time, and the company can refuse to pay and avoid being compelled to pay up.

If the insurance company makes a bet, loses, and refuses to pay, they should go to jail for mail fraud.

Would I like to see fundamental changes? Uh, yeah.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Sunray, perhaps the difference is y'all have public transport. If you don't have a car in Texas, you're SOL.