Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Today's Criminal Justice Action at the Lege

It's a big day at the Lege today on criminal justice matters so I thought I'd link to Grits' previews of the action in the House Corrections Committee:
I didn't have time to preview the Senate Criminal Justice Committee agenda this week (though the bigger bills are definitely in this morning's Corrections hearing), but you can look here at the bills up in that committee.

On the House floor, members have yet another chance to vote against Rep. Dianne Delisi's HB 855, discussed by Grits here, which would allow police to arrest anyone who refused to identify themselves, whether or not they've done anything else wrong. The bill came down on a point of order yesterday, but has been placed once again on today's agenda.

The police unions are the bill's main backers, particularly the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT). They've instigated a full-court press to pass it, vigorously working the House floor and barely hanging on to enough votes yesterday to table an amendment by Rep. Senfronia Thompson. Several of the "Aye" votes to table were people who have in the past supported police accountability reforms, so I'd say the support for Delisi's bill is soft and vulnerable - if just seven members flip from that vote to table on Thompson's amendment, the bill could go down entirely.

UPDATE: HB 855 passed to third reading, unfortunately. Hopefully the legislation will find a less warm reception in the Senate.


Anonymous said...

All of the dust being raised about TYC is a cover for taking TYC to private contract and dumping all of the state employees. This is nothing but an undercover attempt to make TYC seem much worse that it really is. Senator Whitmire told folks he was not at the hearing to listen to good things about TYC. If he allowed too much in the hearing record good it would be tough to go private contract. Can you say Political Smoke anf Mirrors?

Anonymous said...

You are right on. And to think that people are going to lose their jobs and communities are going to lose enormous amounts of income because they don't care and are just wanting to line their own pockets is more than shameful. Most TYC facilities are doing a great job of helping and educating the kids in their care. They are just seizing the opportunity to inflate the situation so they can profit themselves or make themselves look good politically for the next election. Shame on you all. Maybe voters will wake up and elect some people who really care about kids and employees of the state and put the blame on the individuals who could have stopped this terrible thing that has happened to only a few. If they look hard enough, they'll find that the good old boys in the legislature knew too and did nothing themselves. Weren't they supposed to be watching what went on in TYC themselves?

AlanBean said...

Unfortunately, most politicians don't express the slightest interest in the plight of indigent, low-status inmates (be they adults or adolescents) until a Tulia or TYC-type scandal erupts. Then they bend over backwards to dissociate themselves from the alleged transgression. Without scandal (and all the bizarre public performances of rectitude that go along with it) reform is impossible. Part of the problem is that we are simply locking up too many people. Another issue is that the criminal justice and corrections systems are so grossly under-funded that corners, of necessity, must be cut. Thank God for scandals. Sure, they distort reality to some extent. But the status quo apathy and indifference that allows horrors to go unchecked creates far worse distortions. Most Americans get their impressions about the criminal justice system from watching television. The televised version of the criminal justice system involves, sneering, cynical defense attorneys who hold all the cards, white, affluent defendants, crisp, efficient forensic units, diligent police officers, noble prosecutors and fair-minded judges. Except for the tiny percentage of affluent defendants who find themselves before the bar of justice, the criminal justice system consists of police officers who under-investigate so they can move on to the next case, prosecutors eager to nail a conviction without having to go to trial, judges who side with prosecutors because real due process is time consuming and docket-clogging, and court appointed attorneys who pedal plea agreements because they lack the resources to investigate or prepare a defense strategy. Only a steady stream of scandals can bring popular perception in line with reality. If I have to choose between politicians who dissociate themselves from official corruption and politicians who exploit public paranoia about heartless criminals and soft-on-crime judges for political gain, I'll take the former rather than the latter.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet you a paycheck that not one politician has stepped foot on the ground at a TYC unit AND spoken to those in the trenches. GOD forbid that they find out about the inept managers and administration that they are responsible for. They have the exact same problem in the Adult Probation system (CSCD) because they don't want to fund it correctly and get the CSCD's out from under the Judges control. Probation officers are often put under the gun when a judge tells us to do something that is morally/criminally wrong, yet we are forced to do so to keep our jobs. The judges "PICK" the chief probation officer and we, the probaton officers are "AT-WILL."

Anonymous said...

Amen!!!!!!!! Last Post