Monday, April 23, 2007

Corrections Committee considers progressive sanctions

The House Corrections Committee is meeting this morning to consider pending House bills, of which there are many, and also a sole Senate bill on the agenda (SB 166, discussed earlier here) that's an important component of the progressive sanctions regimen designed to avoid new prison building. The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition sent out an email alert with this summary of the bill:

SB 166 by Senator West- relating to progressive sanctions: a safe, cost-effective way to reduce the number of probation revocations to prison -is scheduled to be heard on the House Committee on Corrections.

Technical violations of probation (e.g., missing a probation fee payment or failing to attend a meeting with a probation officer) are a major cause of revocation. These revocations effectively create prisoners out of individuals who commit regulatory infractions, wasting scarce prison beds needed for dangerous criminals.

What does SB 166 do?

  • Saves the state millions in incarceration costs by reducing the number of technical revocations and keeping individuals on probation.
  • Uses drug tests as indicators of substance abuse and sends individuals to appropriate counseling or treatment facilities
  • Encourages probation departments to implement progressive sanctions.
This time of year Senate bills in the House have a great chance of passage. You can watch live video of the hearing here.

UPDATE: Bonita White from TDCJ told the committee that about 1/3 of Texas probation departments have already adopted progressive sanctions models - 26 departments created programs to get funding made available under Texas' 2005 budget, and another dozen counties have done so on their own. (See Grits coverage of the 2005 probation riders and an evaluation of the funding showing it reduced probation revocations.) All of the larger probation departments, she said, have already created programs. One quarter of Texas 122 probation departments, said Ms. White said, supervise 75% of Texas' probationers. The bill was heard and left pending. MORE from the Texas Observer blog.

TYC Reform Legislation: The committee kicked out several smaller bills and is now considering amendments to HB 2807, one of Rep. Madden's big TYC reform bills discussed earlier here.


Anonymous said...

How does Bonita White, who has ten years experience as a probation officer get picked to run the CJAD side of probation? Can you say favoritism? The system is broke and we (the CSO's) get to babysit those who CONTINUE to create havoc in the community. Why, because some idiot feels that not reporting to a CSO, or working, or paying restitution or fines or court costs, going to counseling...WELL you should get the picture! Most people sent to TDC DO NOT WANT TO BE SUPERVISED. It cramps their CRIMINAL LIFESTYLE...GET A CLUE!

Anonymous said...

What an asinine comment. There are many people in prison who are innocent and for you to write this you must be oblivious to what really goes on. The system in broken, is about the only correct statement you made. Some of the CSO's are jerks and love to be mean persons on parole just like the guards in prisons do. They think they are above the laws and a lot of them have criminal records and mental problems themselves. Not all of them are CRIMINALS but were lied about by ex wives and their children and others who were not involved. The DA's and Judges are the ones who decide plus some of the defense attorney's before the trial begins. You are guilty and have to prove your innocence before you ever go to trial.

Come to the real world and don't rip things off your tongue you don't know anything about. Makes you look stupid and uneducated which you must be.

Anonymous said...

Seems anonymous at 4:38 PM had a bad day. Everyone needs to remember that the justice system assesses guilt or innocense. Actual innocense is another matter altogeter.

Of all the jobs in the world, the worst one I can think of is Prison Guard or Parole Officer. At some point in time the ofenders complete their time. Career Guards and Parole Officers have to live everyday with a deeply flawed system.