Saturday, June 21, 2008

Overburdened parole system failing to meet minimum monitoriing requirements: Audit blames old computers

This blog frequently discusses how Texas' full jails, overcrowded prisons and high caseloads for probation officers make it difficult to closely oversee offenders, moderate rising costs, and focus on rehabilitation. In the parole system, too, they're singing a familiar song: Too many parolees under supervision by too few officers.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram brings word of a new state auditor's report detailing how an oveburdened parole systems struggles to monitor ex-prisoners under its charge ("Survey reveals flaws in parole system; officers blame computer system," June 21):

In a survey, auditors found that for 55 percent of offenders, parole officers scheduled drugs tests one to three months later than required by state regulations.

In 12 percent of the cases reviewed, parole officers did not make all of the required monthly contacts with parolees.

Part of the problem is aging equipment.

Parole officers complained about frequent slowdowns in the computer system used to track parolee records. The system was supposed to be completely replaced seven years ago, but the replacement is still incomplete, auditors said.

The Parole Division of the Department of Criminal Justice employs about 1,250 parole officers to keep track of about 78,000 parolees.

According to the report itself (available in pdf here) "The Department supervised 77,526 offenders on parole and mandatory supervision during fiscal year 2007. During this same time period, 31,904 allegations of parole violations were presented by the Department to the Board of Pardons and Paroles (Board) for administrative decisions, which resulted in 10,251 revocations of parole."

Providing adequate support, oversight and re-entry services to parolees is important because recidivism is a big source of crime - around 30% of Texas parolees re-enter prison within three years. Of course, that also means 70+% don't.

From the report, here's the list of the ten Texas counties with the most people on parole or mandatory supervision:
Harris 15,228
Dallas 10,445
Tarrant 6,025
Bexar 4,633
Travis 2,992
El Paso 1,776
Hidalgo 1,047
Collin 562
Denton 741
Fort Bend 682

All Other Counties and Offenders Supervised Out of State 33,395

Total 77,526


Anonymous said...

I can tell you from prior experience that Bexar County adult probation department DOESN'T meet state requirements either! Judge Mary Roman once stated,"If I had it my way you wouldn't do any home visits, it's too dangerous." NO SH*T, especially since the Chief she helped hire DISARMED his staff! They had carried weapons for over 5 years. It's hard enough for them to do their job, then the officers are handcuffed/abused by their Chief.
The Lege needs to get rid of CJAD and and the Chiefs aka:Kings of the departments" and rewrite Article 42.12 and 42.13 Probation laws.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:30 PM: Your problems are strickly Bexar County - I work for a large CSCD and we are making great strides to change the way we do business - smarter and more efficiently - there is no need to "get rid" of CJAD. You just need to bring Departments into the 21st century and focus on the root causes of crime. Good luck to you

Anonymous said...

From my point of view, watching my friend go through the parole maze, it'll take far more than new computers to fix it (although that would definitely help). The actual parole officers are undertrained and overburdened. My friend has had to continuously ask her PO about requirements, and gotten contradictory answers from the same person. There are times when it seems the system is deliberately set up for parolees to fail.