Thursday, April 03, 2008

New diversion programs easing Texas prison overcrowding

Of two Texas Youth Commission facilities transferred to the adult prison system, TDCJ chief Brad Livingston told the Senate Criminal Justice Committee yesterday, the agency has only opened one so far, adding 606 beds, and has no immediate plans to open the second one.

The decline in probation revocations thanks to new treatment and diversion funds had "a lot to do with" the reduced demand for new beds, said Livingston. TDCJ is already seeing "lighter front end pressure" on incarceration - i.e., fewer people entering the system - thanks to newly authorized programs to reduce probation revocations.

Of the treatment beds authorized by the 80th Legislature, said Livingston, most are already contracted and on their way to coming online. Two contracts are not yet in place - one for 1,150 Intermediate Sanctions Facility beds where TDCJ plans to re-issue an RFP, and another contract for 500 additional SAFP drug treatment beds. Otherwise, everything else is moving forward.

Livingston also pointed out that the Lege only allocated $5 million in new funds last year to outpatient substance abuse treatment for probationers, but that judges around the state routinely told them this was their single highest funding priority. Perhaps next session such programs need to get a bigger slice of the pie.


SB said...

We could easily do more. All inmates that meet guidelines should be paroled. Since Rissie Owens and Associate find this so painful they should not have information on the nature of the crime.A judge has already taken care of sentencing. Parole can focus on what has happened during the period of confinement......just like they are supposed to do.

Anonymous said...

Gee whiz Brad; nothing about not being able to staff what you have and therefore should not bring ANY additional beds on-line that require TDCJ CO staffing?

Retired 2004.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

They did discuss that, Retired, I just didn't write that part up. He said the current shortfall was about 3,600, and described the changes to entry level pay by TBCJ last week.

Livingston also said he "knew" that more experienced guards were unhappy they weren't receiving more pay, but TDCJ had a "crisis," with 43% of new guards leaving in their first year. So his first priority, he said, was to reduce that number so training resources, etc., weren't wasted and they'd have a better chance at keeping enough guards long-term.

They also mentioned problems staffing rural units generally, but didn't get into specifics. (On the medical side they discussed that more, fwiw, and Fort Stockton was cited as a chronically understaffed locale.)

Anonymous said...

You are right Scott; I should have said Brad didn't volunteer the information; Whitmire had to elicit the information.
In addition to the turnover rate of new officers he stated there was a 24% turnover rate of other staff.

I also compared John's comment to Brad about the short termed (short sentenced) inmates not being allowed treatment due to the long waiting list for in prison treatment (DWI's are a great example). This is the same problem and the same substance discussed during Ann Richards term and the bulding of treatment programs/facilties. I remember you stating that there was never an intent to provide sufficient funding Scott. May I make an assumption that we are back to the starting point?

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

Watch the Senate hearings on April 16th. The Senate will again be meeting with the BPP and TDCJ regarding issues of parole and not releasing those who have been paroled.

Should be interesting!