Sunday, July 08, 2007

Recent Grits posts you shouldn't miss

I wanted to highlight a few recent Grits posts for my own easy reference and to make sure they made it onto Grits readers radar screens:

County Jail Overcrowding Solutions

Private Prisons
Texas Parole
And also, if you didn't see it, don't forget to check out Grits':

Restorative Justice Conference Link Roundup

Thanks for reading, folks.

1 comment:

Manuel said...

Taylor Co. judge to leave office early
By Brien Murphy (Contact)
Originally published 09:54 a.m., July 6, 2007
UpdaNewman plans to step down early Taylor County judge to leave office before term expires y Sidney Levesque
Saturday, July 7, 2007

New anti-litter campaign to focus on city cleanup
Taylor County Judge George Newman announced Friday he is leaving office before his term expires - but he still has plenty of projects he'd like to see completed before that day comes. In the next 18 months before Newman steps down midway through the term he won at the polls in 2006, he'd like to see the completion of Taylor County Courthouse improvements, the county jail expansion, increasing courthouse security, completion of a school building for juvenile delinquents in custody and creation of a nonprofit program for guardians of indigent people. He County is tasked with providing guardians for poor, elderly people who have no family and need help coping with daily life, such as money management. It's a big agenda, Newman acknowledges. 'I'm not slowing down,'' he said. ''If anything, it will just be busier because I want to tackle lots of these things.'' But the clock is starting to tick on the county judge's tenure now that he's announced he plans to leave office Jan. 1, 2009 . That would bring him to the halfway point of his four-year term that expires at the end of 2010. He judge didn't name a reason for his early departure in a written statement sent to news media. ''I'm old. There's no particular reason. It's a combination of many things,'' he said during a phone interview. ''Sometimes you just get the feeling it's time.'' Newman said he will be 68 by the time he leaves office. Before announcing his decision, Newman talked with members of the county commissioner's court, which oversees county functions such as the criminal justice system, indigent health and defense, county roads and county vital records. ''I was surprised that he had made the choice to end his term two years early, but for personal reasons, I can understand,'' said Commissioner Chuck Statler. Newman is announcing his intentions now so possible candidates have time to consider running. Candidates must file in December to participate in the spring 2008 primary. The general election will be in November 2008. County judges serve four-year terms. Despite the title ''judge,'' Texas county judges are not required to have a law license. Newman was a rancher and retired Hardin-Simmons University biology professor when he was appointed county judge in 2003 to fill the unexpired term of Victor Carrillo, who left to join the Texas Railroad Commission. Newman's starting salary with benefits was nearly $60,000. He was elected to finish the remaining two years of Carrillo's term in 2004. In 2006, Newman was elected to a full term. During his time as judge, the county started expanding the jail in expectation of future growth, worked to improve indigent health care access, and negotiated tax abatements with wind farms. ''That's brought industry and helped our economy,'' Statler said. ''It's gotten our area recognition as a producer of green energy.'' Newman said the move to conduct mental commitment hearings via closed circuit television rather than transporting patients from the Big Spring Hospital to Abilene saved the county thousands of dollars. He is also proud of the county's ''top-notch'' personnel and the ''substantial'' improvements to their salary structure. The county has about 500 employees and a $32 million budget. 2007 Abilene Reporter-News