Friday, June 22, 2007

Perry Veto of Probation Funding Fix a Surprise to Jerry Madden

Nobody from the Governor's office told House Corrections Chairman Jerry Madden they had any problems with his HB 3200 before they vetoed it, according to a letter from the Chairman to the Governor. Paul Burka called it "one of the worst of Perry's vetoes," and I agree. The bill would have adjusted probation department funding to incentive use of new tools and programs created by the 80th Texas Legislature. (See prior Grits coverage.) The Governor gave no hint during the process he didn't like the bill, he just waited to the end and said "Nyet."

Yesterday Chairman Madden sent a letter to Governor Perry expressing his "surprise" and "disappointment" at the veto, and having obtained a copy I reprint it here in full:
June 21, 2007

Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711

Dear Governor Perry,

House Bill 3200 was developed over the last two years in close cooperation with The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)-CJAD, the Texas Probation Association, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and several other interested groups and individuals. As Chairman of the House Committee on Corrections, I am particularly interested in reducing the large number of probation revocations that are causing our prison numbers to swell.

HB 3200 was intended to provide additional money and support to probation departments while also providing a structure that would decrease the number of persons on probation as well as the number of probationers sent to our state prisons. I spoke with many probation officials throughout the interim regarding my ideas of frontloading funding formulas and providing incentives and disincentives for department performance. This strategy, laid out in HB 3200, was widely accepted across the state.

In your veto proclamation, you mention that there is no statutory definition of what constitutes a "technical violation". This is true, but not a sufficient reason to veto this bill since "technical violation" is a well understood term in the criminal justice and probation fields. It is a term that has been used for many years, and thousands of probationers and parolees are sent to TDCJ for technical violations every year. If the term is standard enough to be used to take away people's liberty by incarcerating them in our prisons, it is certainly well enough defined for use in our probation formula funding.

My office worked with your staff this session to address prison overcrowding and probation reform. I was surprised, and continue to be disappointed in your decision to veto this very important bill. However, I look forward to working with you and your staff in the future so that we can develop a similar probation funding mechanism that will benefit Texas probation departments, TDCJ, and the citizens on this state.


Jerry Madden


Anonymous said...

SO SAD! Cant wait till Bush is out and Perry will go right behind him. Piece of %&#&^$^*. Cant wait to get a real Governor!

Anonymous said...

Rep. Jerry Madden is one of the nicest most sincere men I have the pleasure of corresponding with and for Gov. Perry to not even inform him he had vetoed the bill Mr. Madden and Sen. Whitmire worked so hard to write, just proves what a cold hearted man Perry is.

I too will be glad to get Bush and Perry out of office. They have done more to destroy our country and State than anyone who has ever held the same positions they now hold. The old saying "Monkey see, Monkey do," applies to both of them.

My hat is off to Mr. Madden and Mr. Whitmire and I continue to admire and respect both of you very much.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Whitmire cause a waitress to lose her job when she felt he was too intoxicated to order more drinks? AND you admire him?????
Sorry but the front end loading for probation is not the right idea! Fixing/eliminating CJAD is!
The Texas Probation Association is there to help directors build their kingdoms, not help probation officers do their jobs more efficiently. Officers are overworked and underpaid and will continue to leave the profession until someone in AUSTIN gets a clue and FIXES the problem.

Anonymous said...

To Grits:
Speaking of probation...Grits, please tell me what can be done when a DA takes it upon himself to fabricate a lie to use against a person whose probation has been revoked; a total lie used in an effort to obtain plea bargain acceptance for a more lengthly stay in a state jail than is necessary. Isn't this type of thing at the very core of Madden's view of a problematic system that lends to jail overcrowding?

I am talking about a non violent offender (drug related crime) who has to do more time in a state jail due to a technical violation (failure to appear to a handful of probation meetings at the end of a 5 year probation term, where 4 and one half years has already been served.) In addition to the all of this, the fabricated lie is a TOTALLY FALSE allegation of a sexual nature-- something that not only did NOT happen, but there are witnesses at the scene who could testify it did not happen. When a District Attorney uses fabrication and lies as part of a plea bargain in this evil way...what can be done to trigger an investigation? Your input would be very much appriciated.


A regular Grits for Breakfast reader and contributor

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Ouch - I hope your guy's lawyer or other representative got affidavits from those other representatives to show the judge. Honestly, I can only think of two strategies: 1) hire a hotshot lawyer and try to set the record straight, or 2) get more eyes on it - the local media, elected officials, let everybody know the other side of the story and get them watching the outcome. Sometimes that stuff matters as much or more as what happens in court. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Grits for advising me on this. Thanks to you, I have some bright ideas about what to do. I think the editorial section of my local newspaper will serve nicely. I think this guy's right to legal counsel on the inside will benefit too....thanks again!!!!