Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Texas justice system oversees more people than live in 4 states and Washington D.C.

With Texas adult prisons nearly 4,000 guards short, and voters about to decide whether to approve debt to build three more units, it's worth pausing for a moment to observe with awe the vast number of Texans under control of the criminal justice system:
  • Average number felons under direct TDCJ supervision: 156,981 (2004)
  • Average number of Texas offenders on probation: 430,200 (2004)
  • Average number of parolees on active supervision: 77,000 (2005)
  • Total county jail population: 73,289 (2007)
Since I couldn't easily find numbers for the same time annual periods, this is just a rough estimate, but assuming those numbers haven't change much, that puts the total number of adults incarcerated or under direct supervision in Texas at any one time at approximately 737,470. That's more than total 2004 populations of Washington, D.C. and four US states: Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. A sizable majority of these offenders committed nonviolent offenses. (Texas has labeled a total of 2,324 separate acts "felonies," eleven of them involving oysters.)

Indeed, that's a significant proportion of Texans overall. In 2003, Texas' total adult population was 15,878,347. So about 4.6% of Texas adults, by these calculations, are under control of the criminal justice system at any one time - nearly five out of every hundred.

Texas also pays quite a lot of people to track down and confine the bad guys:
  • Average total number active peace officers licensed at TCLEOSE: 84,850 (2005)
  • TDCJ employees including prison guards and parole officers: Approximately 38,000 (2004)
And that doesn't include support staff, county employees, and a lot of other folks.

Discussing staffing shortages at TYC with a juvenile probation chief in Lubbock on Monday, he darkly joked that we're getting to the point in Texas where half the state will be incarcerated, and the other half will be paid to guard them. The only problem with that scheme: Apparently nobody wants the job.

Data from agency evaluations submitted to the Sunset Commission, see: TCLEOSE, TDCJ, TCJS.


Anonymous said...

Many people who read and post here are associated with the criminal justice system. Prison guards for one.

As one of the people who sees the error of our war on drugs...especially the fact that people are punished harshly, and sometimes killed over their use of marijuana, I have often heard, of course, that the reason we can't use logic and reason and common sense to get the laws changed is that there are people who profit from such laws.

Prison guards, or correctional officers, are often mentioned, along with law enforcement, professional prohibitionists, drug testing, the prison industry, and the dealers and cartels.

There are many prison guards here. Do you believe that legalizing marijuana and turning the Drug War, medical, instead of criminal, would jeopardize your livelihoods?

tttt said...

There is no doubt that the War on Drugs is the longest running moral panic the world has seen. Has it reduced crime? Absolutely not. Is it discriminatory? You bet it is.

If the War on Drugs were pronounced dead tomorrow, the mass media would focus on a new moral panic and Americans would be duped into screaming at politicians to solve yet another perceived crime problem.

I think law enforcement and correctional officers' jobs are safe.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Good question in the first comment, 10:47, though I hope you won't mind me suggesting you've aimed it at the wrong audience. There aren't that many in prison for marijuana, in the scheme of things, though potentially for big amounts, or also those on probation and parole can get revoked for pot.

But really, who deals with pot offenders are juvie probation, adult probation, county jails, and county court at law judges. I agree with Terry that prison guards' jobs are safe from pot decrim - there are all those oyster offenders to lock up, after all ... oh yeah, and also actual, dangerous bad guys, too. best,

Anonymous said...

TYC in Crisis!
Changes are being set in motion at TYC
Texas State Employees Union is leading the way to give TYC employees a voice in the future course of the agency in order to provide the best quality care for the youth in our custody.

TSEU will continue to fight for:
More and Better Trained Staff -
the key to safety for youth and staff is better ratios and more training for staff

Competitive Compensation -
TSEU won pay parity for JCO’s, now we need career ladders for other professionals, 20-year retirement (LECOSRF) and better pay at all levels to attract and retain qualified staff.

Firm, Fair Work Environment -
TYC must support good workers, correct misguided ones and get rid of the bad ones with consistency. Employees need to be able to voice concerns and know they will be listened to, and not be retaliated against.

Anonymous said...

the juvenile guy in lubbock sounds like a smart feller.

Anonymous said...

TSEU is pathetic. They are posting all over the place how they are out to fix our problems. They just want our dues. They have done nothing and will continue to do nothing because we are state employees and we cannot, by law, take job actions (e.g. strike)

Anonymous said...

TYC Employees we need to get rid of that stupid Union and get one with some guts,, The Union has only been a costly expence for Employees who never see any results..
Years ago when a very good friend of mine was Terminated in Brownwood TYC contacted the Union to be represented and they were to send in an attorney, Thye sent one who never quite made it to the Campus thus the Guy had to hire a local attorney out of Sweetwater Texas with His own Money to get His Job back..We need a real tough Union not one like what we have they are worthless ,I wonder if we get eneough poeople to sign up with an outside Union can we get a Union that is worth a Damn??? I have not seen the Union do squat down this way>>>>

Anonymous said...

Three forths of a million currently under the control of the Texas justice system. Wow!!

Add to that everyone that was under the control of the system at one time in their life, or knows someone that was, then we're talking about a lot of people.

It is going to become more and more difficult for the "system" to function as more and more people understand how dysfunctional it truly is. The only question is: How bad does it get before the pain forces changes that better meet the needs of society?

It is getting pretty painfull so I'm thinking it won't be much longer.

Anonymous said...

Folks, get out and vote against prop #4. We can't staff the prisons and TYC facilities we have so why build any new ones. Whitmire doesn't really want a facility in Houston, he just wants to look like he's trying to do something besides harass barmaids.

On another note Grits, and slightly off the subject, but not really - any new information out of Willacy County regarding their District Attorney, Sheriff, municipal judge, etc. I read somewhere the DA may be indicted again by the Grand Jury. This stuff is better than anything on Television or even pay-per-view.

Anonymous said...

This is why there will never be any meaningful reform in TYC. The average Joe in Texas has a 'lock em up' mentality - and the average Joe in Texas does not like to pay taxes. So, we get 'lock em up' and warehousing. Everybody is fine with that, except for a few of us bleeding hearts who should just pack their bags and go somewhere else if they don't like the way we do things in Texas! Sad but true, that is the attitude of the average voter.