Friday, April 27, 2007

Around the web

Just a few quick hits on items that I don't have time to turn into full blog posts:

Ghost Voting
Regulars at the Texas Lege know that ghost voting is rampant, and that members improperly vote for one another all the time. But I just watched the opening of the House this morning and with the chamber virtually empty, a handful of members went from desk to desk pushing buttons until the entire board appeared lit up green, implying all the members were present for roll call. They weren't. I'm not a stickler for such things, and all they missed was the prayer and congratulatory resolutions, but it's still annoying to watch one guy logging in for a dozen different members.

TDCJ Staff: Get Livingston Out
The Back Gate lets us know TDCJ staff have begun a petition drive demanding the ouster of agency chief Brad Livingston. Here's the petition.

New private prison opens in East Texas
A private prison designed as an "Intermediate Sanctions Facility" just opened in Rusk County. Chairman Whitmire has called this a "spec prison," built without a specific client, but from all appearances it will be used as part of the proposed expansion of treatment and incarceration alternatives he and Jerry Madden put together. See prior Grits coverage. In addition, here's a report from a meeting of 75 prison ministry volunteers at a church in Henderson near the new facility.

Dallas Sheriff: 'Jail Flaws Not My Fault'
Unhappy with the coverage she's received in the Dallas Morning News, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez gave a lengthy interview with the Dallas Voice to explain her side of why problems at the Dallas County Jail haven't been fixed. “I am tired of being blamed for things that are not under my control,” she declared. The Sheriff has no control, she said, over the quality of healthcare delivered to inmates or budgets to overcome staffing shortages.

All the Gold in California
Driven by lawsuits and the prospect of mass releases, in a bipartisan vote, California just approved $7.4 billion, with a "B," in new prison spending. More from Doc Berman here, here, here, here, and here.

Choose: Jail immigrants or crooks
There aren't enough federal courts or jail space to comprehensively enforce immigration laws, concludes AP. Officials are "alarmed because where would we put our bank robbers? Our rapists? Those who violate probation?"

Brother, can you spare a job?
The SA Express News' Roddy Stinson focuses on allegations of nepotism at the Bexar County probation department.

Anderson Cooper Screwed Up the 'Snitch' Story
So says David Borden at Drug War Chronicle in an open letter to the 60 Minutes reporter. See Grits discussion of the show here and here.

New Dallas ADA Shaking Up Office
With national publicity focused on the office as a result of recent exonerations based on DNA evidence, Texas Lawyer profiles Terri Moore, the new first assistand district attorney at the Dallas County DA's office. Reports Texas Lawyer:
Moore has already put her stamp on the DA's office, embarking on an ambitious plan to institute fundamental changes to the way it does business. Since she became first assistant DA on Jan. 29, Moore has:

  • Invited the Innocence Project of Texas, a consortium of research teams at various universities devoted to seeking freedom for the wrongfully convicted, to review cases in which the DA's office previously had fought defense requests for review of DNA evidence;

  • Launched new policies for first-time offenders accused of marijuana possession and shoplifting to help them turn their lives around;

  • Proposed reducing dramatically -- to almost zero -- the number of examining trials held before magistrates in Dallas courts, at which defense lawyers get the opportunity to review prosecutors' evidence before clients are indicted;

  • Initiated plans to start an open-file policy, automatically giving defense lawyers access to the same evidence that prosecutors see, including police files, all witness statements and all discovery;

  • Altered the tone of relations between prosecutors and defense lawyers, telling her staff to treat the other side with respect and decorum and not like the enemy.


Anonymous said...

Hi Grits,I wish I could say that "ghost people" didn't happen just about everywhere. Right now there are employees at TYC who have other coworkers log onto their computers and send emails to make it look like they are here. They also come through the front so the camera catches them as "here" and they walk straight out the exits that don't have cameras and leave campus or stay on campus and hide out in unmonitored areas so no one can find them. These smarmy people get paid the same as I do for an 8 hour or more day. Yeah, more than 8 hours; sometimes they have the nerve to claim overtime. Crappy people exist everywhere.

Anonymous said...

As for crappy people and bosses in Bexar County the way in and up is by your blood line. Seems like the whole TDCJ,TYC,CJAD-Adult Probation is out of control. I'm starting to blame Perry for it all. The employees from all sides all have the same cries for help but no movement forward yet. Perry your in charge of the state- when this much is wrong you need to fix it!!!

Anonymous said...

Grits- on the bexar county probation nepotism problems - How do you see the problem!!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I don't know, on the nepotism question - on the one hand it's hard to imagine a nepotism policy that doesn't cover the relationships Stinson describts. On the other, nobody can find enough POs, and when I look at Gov. Perry's appointments in the Ed and Rissie Owens family, plus other instances I'm aware of, and I think the problem's not just at Bexar but perhaps part of the culture of many criminal justice agencies.

Either way, Fitzgerald didn't come off looking good, nor the judges who tolerate him.

Anonymous said...

I agree with grits but fitzgerald was told by the judges to stop and continued. Now lets see if the ineffective judges can coral their wild man. Last Chief, Garcia was forced to retire and nepotism was a problem. Rissie and Ed need to be looked at also?? This is public money! We have a hard time getting staff- yes- but its because of pay. The family members seem to move up so pay is not a problem for them. You cant just hire your family -and then promote them- that really sends up the retention problem when you see its all in the family. You look around and say crap I'm not kin to anyone better move on to somewhere fair!!!!!!