Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Texas prison and jail vote results


How did the big prison and jail votes around the state turn out last night? While statewide voters approved three new prisons as part of a larger hodgepodge of proposals, voters in Smith and Harris (Tyler and Houston) - long considered two of the more "tuff on crime" counties - both shot down new jails. Overall, these tallies show voters no longer view building more lockups in nearly as favorable a light as they did just a few years ago. Here are the results:

State Proposition 4 (building three new prison units and a new Youth Commission facility)
: Approved, approximately 58%-42%. Lumping prisons in with repairs for state parks and homes for the mentally retarded made this item bulletproof, despite opposition to new prisons from all parts of the political spectrum. In its last Legislative Appropriations Request, TDCJ estimated the cost to staff and operate three new prisons would be $72 million per year on top of $34 million in bond payments. The Legislative Budget Board must still certify the prisons are needed before they are built. The new TYC unit will likely be in Harris County.

Smith County Jail Bonds: Defeated, 69%-31%. This is the second year in a row Smith County voters rejected a new jail. Opposition to jail bonds in Tyler is growing. Due to high voter turnout, more people voted against the jail in 2007 than voted in the entire 2006 bond election. Maybe it's time for Smith county commissioners, judges and the DA to start looking more seriously at incarceration alternatives. Or maybe we can do this again next year.

Harris County Jail Bonds: Defeated, 51%-49%. Wow! With no organized opposition, this went down solely on the voters' gut instinct that they didn't want it. Smart voters! It's not like Harris County could staff the jails they've got. Plus, some advocates like the blogger at Intermodality hoped the parcel of land where the jail would have gone can be used for more public-spirited purposes. County Judge Ed Emmett told the Houston Chronicle, "There's no question we need more jail cells." Hogwash! Harris County's jail overcrowding stems from decisions by elected officials, not some Providential demand from on high. Given yesterday's results and overall electoral trends in Harris County, perhaps replacing some of those folks next year might be an easier sell to voters than building more jail beds.

Brazos County Jail Bonds: Approved 63%-37%. Of all the jail bonds before voters in the state, these had the least local media coverage or public debate. As a result, they sailed through.

Howard County Jail Bonds: Approved 70%-30%. This was the only jail bond proposal I felt was necessary. The Commission on Jail Standards had vowed to shut down the jail if the bonds didn't pass. In 2006, Howard County voters rejected a slightly smaller jail bond package.


CapitolAnnex said...

Brazos passed; check the Bryan-College Station Eagle website; I've got it it Capitol Annex, too. I'm searching for Howard County, too....

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to "Just say no!"?

Voters are more likely to approve bonds when the economy and jobs are strong. Looks like 40% or so will be stuck with paying for prisons and/or jails they don't want.

Anonymous said...

I noticed a late run of bullying... err, sorry... promotion of prop 4 by the heritage/parks lobby. Nice one boys ~ maybe they would like to staff the 3 new prisons themselves, or any of the existing ones running at less than safe staffing numbers?

Anonymous said...

Wonder which Texas town with no economy will be converted in to a thriving economy sucking on the misery of their own and others?

All one has to do is look where these prisons are being built, and see how WHOLE communities are being manipulated in to depending on " People Ranching "!:(

Once again these political parasites manipulate their DREAMS in to being, sadly hidden from plain view of everybody??

The only way to stop this madness, is to hold those and their kids to the same manipulated justice we are! No more special conditions for those of means and status! Nor the self pro-claimed chosen ones, nor their families! The same perverted justice for all! Maybe if these parasites have to visit their own families in prison, they will re-think it!

Fear " IS NOT " a Texas trait, nor an American Value! Yet we accept these political parasites using it as a tool openly???


Anonymous said...

A sad day for Texans.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I know people who truly meant to vote against any new prisons, and didn't see "Jail" or "Prison" in Prop. 4 and unwittingly voted for it.

Do they hire professional con-people to word these propositions that they really want? Apparently so.

It's a sad day when people are purposely fooled by those they ought to be able to trust. They could make it simple and clear...but then they'd wouldn't get what they want...so they don't.

Don said...

This prop 4 was
texas politics at it's sleaziest. I agree that most people didn't know they were voting for another stupid prison building scheme. If an idea is unpopular, just attach it to something that's not, and bury it in the language. It's disgusting. Can we find out who voted yay and nay on this in the lege, or was it one of those voice votes that thankfully, we did do something about. It's disgusting.

Anonymous said...

I heard that Sheffield Boot Camp (TYC) was shut down yesterday. Is this true?

Anonymous said...

Every word Rusty White said is true. Horribly true.

And it's true what he says that the parasitic rich are above the law. They can buy their kid out of jail and prison and the poor people can't.

"The only way to stop this madness, is to hold those and their kids to the same manipulated justice we are! No more special conditions for those of means and status! Nor the self pro-claimed chosen ones, nor their families! The same perverted justice for all! Maybe if these parasites have to visit their own families in prison, they will re-think it!"

That's so wrong...but it is happening.

That situation comes to mind that happened not long ago in Waco where a well off son of a well know pastor got away with murder and testing hot for cocaine...and a poor black kid, same court, same job, same era, got a life sentence for testing hot for marijuana while on probation for a two dollar armed robbery, where, he actually sincerely expressed deep remorse, for his action, not just getting caught, and did not actually injure his victim.

How we, as. supposedly, decent people, continue to allow this sort of thing is unfathomable.

Anonymous said...

"same job", should have read, "same judge".

Eddie G. Griffin said...

Thanks Grits. I'm following Prop 4 new prison construction provision. I'm a true believer: If you build it, they will come (even if they need not to be built). We are still working to try and depopulate our prison system and slow down the trend of mass incarceration.