Friday, May 25, 2007

New prisons come with strings attached

Mike Ward has an update on the status of new prisons in the yet-to-be-revealed state budget in the Austin Statesman's Postcards from the Lege blog:

Building the new prisons will come with strings. Prison population numbers will have to exceed targets, and they can be built only with the approval of legislative leaders and the Legislative Budget Board.

Other CJ budget details just confirmed:

The budget will include funding for around 9,000 new slots — both lockup and treatment beds — as part of more than $206 million in additional funding. That’s the largest boost since the early 1990s, when the state was building prisons fast and furious and took a later-aborted shot at opening more than a dozen drug-treatment units.

Among those new beds will be around 1,400 in Intermediate Sanction Facilities for parole violators, 1,900 in state jail treatment programs, 1,500 each in specialized drug-treatment programs such as the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment units and the In-Prison Therapeutic Programs, 800 in community-based residential treatment for parolees, 500 in special units for convicted drunk drivers and 300 in halfway houses.

In addition, the budget will include an additional $13 million for local probation programs and $10 million more for mental-health diversion programs.

Those details confirmed by House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, and Senate leaders.

Ward said whether new prisons made it into the budget was a mystery even to "leaders in charge" of the issue, which jibes with what I'd heard - House opponents of new prisons on the conference committee were kept out of the loop and were surprised to discover prisons were approved without a formal vote by conferees.

More on this after the budget itself is made public, probably sometime today - then we can all stop guessing and see what they actually came up with.


Anonymous said...

Texas does not need any new prisons. It is tough enough to staff the prison units that they already have. Perhaps they should put these millions of dollars into giving state employees a real raise, instead of the measly $50 a month raise that they are talking about. By the time deductions are taken out, you might have $20.00 more per month but that won't even get you half a tank of gas anymore.

Don said...

I'm still incredulous about the treatment funding. Given the history, why does anybody think it will be different this time? In the early 90's we voted bonds to fund 25,000 prison beds. Of these, 12,500 were to be "treatment" beds for the newly conceived SAFPF programs. Then George W. beat Ann Richards, and the "Republican Revolution" took place. The treatment beds were cut immediately to 10,000, authorized. Never made it that far. During the ensuing years, SAFPF beds became prison beds, until the treatment beds got down to less than 2000. After Bush got through with the treatment field in Texas, it was a shadow of what it once was. Many LCDC's left the field for good. They will not be available for these slots. Furthermore, the treatment beds will become prison beds again when the money runs short and the prosecutors need to fulfill their "tuff on crime" promises. A counselor would have to be crazy to go back to work for TDCJ or their contractors. Add to that the fact that SAFPF as practiced, at least in some places, is the worst excuse for a treatment program you could think of. I know TDCJ releases glowing numbers for success rates, but you have to dig out what the numbers actually mean. Unless you think they're above cooking the books. If you give the money for treatment back to Texas State Health Services (which TCADA became a part of), and made some actual treatment available instead of the B-Mod crap that SAFPF does, you might get somewhere. As I said before, you might as well give money to your 18 year old crack addicted step-daughter.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Don, there's a lot of treatment funding in the next biennial budget - getting them to keep it up in the out years will be an important fight.

PAPA said...

I am just amazed, then amazed, and then maybe a BIG HUGE AWED.The Legislators that are VOTED for and Elected by "WE THE PEOPLE" the Voters, the TAXPAYERS, no longer does it matter what "WE" want, the Legislators have gone stone-deaf toward the American VOTING TAXPAYING CITIZENS of this Country.Somewhere I had a dream that I vote to put "THEN" into "Office" to represent "ME".I guess I have not awaken from my dream because seems in this dream somewhere there was a change and I can not come out of this dream that things have changed. Seems there is something about "THEY" take an OATH to represent "ME", "WE THE PEOPLE" not "THEIRSELVES"...what is the DEAL someone needs to wake me up. Thank you

Anonymous said...

I remember when Ann Richards built prions but they were built with rehab in mind. She was an alcoholic and so is George W. Bush. Why would he cut out the rehab? He for one would benefit from rehab and for the cocaine he used to snort.

I know you just don't chose to stop drinking and using cocaine, you need professional help to deal with these problems. He never got help and it shows.

For him to cut out rehab for those who truly need help is a disgustable deed and does not speak well of him, but you hardly ever hear anyone speak well of him today as it is. Will this ever end??