Saturday, May 12, 2007

No need for new prisons in Texas state budget

Texas House and Senate budget conferees have agreed on funding amounts for treatment and prison diversion programs, as mentioned yesterday, but are stuck trying to decide whether to build new prisons. Basically Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Sen. Tommy Williams want them, and nobody else thinks we need them.

Besides reading Tony Fabelo's report, I wish every conference committee member would visit the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition's web page on why new prison construction is unsustainable and wrong for Texas. Prisons would only take up $35 million in the current budget, but after they're built would cost $106 million per year thereafter. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is demonstrably incorrect that population growth warrants building prisons. The state has many other priorities where they should spend the money.

Of course, don't forget how Dewhurst and Senate budget writers plan to pay for new prisons: In all seriousness, no joke, they took the money from blind children:

8 comments:

Right of Aryan Nation said...

C'mon, Grits, you can do better. They didn't take money away from blind children, good greif.

The Texas School for the Blind asked for $50.3 million

and received $49.2. Yeah, sure sounds like they raked the children over the coals for prisons. Not.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The deal is, bigjolly, the money for prisons and the blind kids came from the same bond money. The Senate could have maxxed out the blind school funding and THEN taken care of prisons, couldn't they? But they made a different choice. It's all about your priorities.

That said, the House funded neither prisons nor the blind school, but in the Senate budget they had to make a choice which project to fully fund. Prisons got theirs and blind kids money fell short. Whether you think the amounts are significant or not, that's what happened.

right of aryan nation said...

Grits, you know the drill. You request a number higher than you expect. In this case, they got 98% of the request, no? That is a pretty good number. To use the requested amount to say that politicians don't care about blind kids when you know that they got more than they anticipated doesn't seem fair.

And lest you think that I don't care about blind kids, I helped lead the charge in Houston for the mentally retarded when the Democrat mayor tried to boot them out onto the streets.

Anonymous said...

Had a wonderful visit at the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony yesterday. At least I had a visit. Many were turned away because they were visiting the Boot Camp and there were NOT enough officers to run visitation in the camp. What does that tell you?

It should tell you that the prisons we currently have operating in Texas are understaffed with correctional officers that are overworked and underpaid. The process of "thinking" (something rarely done by the "we want more prisons" politicians) would result in one knowing that if we can't adequately staff what we already have, how in the hell does anyone expect us to staff additional prisons?

Understaffed prisons are a danger to correctional officers and offenders alike. Until we are willing to provide adequate pay, including overtime as it is worked, and until we require a higher standard when hiring CO's, we will continue to get the substandard quality of CO that seems to be filling the ranks today. They have no people skills and many are uneducated. Some are far too young to be tossed into a prison setting. They have no life skills, yet alone the skills to work with offenders. The list is longer but for the sake of space I will refrain from listing the many reasons we are experiencing such a guard shortage.

We, the taxpaying citizens of this state, must begin to demand that the prisons already in place are adequately staffed rather than letting the "new prison" mantra continue. More is not always better.

Anonymous said...

Had a wonderful visit at the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony yesterday. At least I had a visit. Many were turned away because they were visiting the Boot Camp and there were NOT enough officers to run visitation in the camp. What does that tell you?

It should tell you that the prisons we currently have operating in Texas are understaffed with correctional officers that are overworked and underpaid. The process of "thinking" (something rarely done by the "we want more prisons" politicians) would result in one knowing that if we can't adequately staff what we already have, how in the hell does anyone expect us to staff additional prisons?

Understaffed prisons are a danger to correctional officers and offenders alike. Until we are willing to provide adequate pay, including overtime as it is worked, and until we require a higher standard when hiring CO's, we will continue to get the substandard quality of CO that seems to be filling the ranks today. They have no people skills and many are uneducated. Some are far too young to be tossed into a prison setting. They have no life skills, yet alone the skills to work with offenders. The list is longer but for the sake of space I will refrain from listing the many reasons we are experiencing such a guard shortage.

We, the taxpaying citizens of this state, must begin to demand that the prisons already in place are adequately staffed rather than letting the "new prison" mantra continue. More is not always better.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

right of aryan: This is a little bit different drill. This isn't an appropriation from the general fund, which is where often you see agencies ask for more expecting less. These are bonds that voters approved in 2000 for specific purposes. But construction costs increased so they couldn't do everything and one or the other had to get cut. Guess which one they chose?

Besides, if the numbers say you don't need the prisons, if building them commits you to an extra $106 million per year you could better spend elsewhere, and if you don't have guards to staff the ones you've got, why do it?

right of aryan nation said...

Grits, if you think that the request wasn't inflated, you haven't been involved in to many construction budgets.

But that isn't really my point. You've taken what could have been a good argument (no need for prisons) and turned it into mean politicians against the blind kids. Your argument has merits on its own, it didn't need the blind kids inserted into it and in fact turns people like me away from your argument. But, you know, different strokes and all.

BTW, thanks for the new nick. Check your account, I pay for services rendered........

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'll accept that criticism, right of aryan, with the caveat that with more than 2,000 posts on Grits so far there's room for more than one argument to be made. I've rambled on about the bad economics of the proposals until even I'm bored with it, and it doesn't seem to phase the prison building crowd.

Thanks for the banter and the generous contribution to the cause! Glad you like the new nickname, though I did say that just SOME members of the Aryan Nations prison gang are more liberal than you are, bigjolly - they do, after all, coerce membership. ;)