Tuesday, July 29, 2008

TCJC on probation officer turnover, 'revisiting treatment basics,' and whether a public defender can work in Harris County

There was so much good stuff in this month's e-newsletter from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition I wanted to share these portions for the poor, uninformed souls who don't subscribe to their email list or regularly visit their website:
Find Out Why There is Turnover Among Texas Adult Probation Officers
Don't miss out on the Probation Advisory Committee's latest report, titled 2008 Texas Adult Probation Turnover Intention Study: Line Community Supervision Officers and Direct-Care Staff, which analyzes the reasons for voluntary turnover among Texas adult probation officers. Also check out TCJC's summary of this report here. (Grits' note: recommended)

Felony/Misdemeanor-Friendly Career Fair Coming Up

The Mid-Cities Human Resource Association and Tarrant County Re-Entry Initiative are hosting a Felony and/or Misdemeanor-Friendly Community Career Fair on Friday, August 15, 2008, from 9:00am - 4:00pm. Click here for Jobseeker and Employer registration, including event location, and terms and condition. Registration ends Friday, August 1, 2008.

Revisiting the Basics of Treatment
Are you a drug treatment provider who wants to learn more about effective treatment strategies? Check out the Institute of Behavioral Research's Summer 2008 Newsletter , which focuses on helping providers adopt a 'systems' perspective that emphasizes interim stages of early engagement and change as signposts for improving therapeutic effectiveness.

For more information, visit their website.

Indigent Defense Sym
posium in Houston: Considering Options for Ensuring Access to Quality Representation in Harris County
Harris County Commissioners Court is looking into the feasibility of creating a public defender's office to provide indigent defense services in the nation's largest urban jurisdiction without one. To facilitate a larger public discussion on indigent defense and the issues at stake in Harris County, the University of Houston Law Center will host the upcoming September 5th symposium, Achieving Quality in Indigent Defense - Proposals, Prototypes, and Policymaking.

This conference will bring together experts from Texas and around the nation to consider the potential for ensuring access to quality defense representation for those unable to afford a lawyer in Harris County. The registration fee for the symposium is $25 and it will qualify for CLE credit.

Visit the Center For Children, Law & Policy website for more information about the speakers and to register for the event.

For more information about the feasibility and effectiveness of public defender offices in Texas, the Task Force on Indigent Defense recently published its updated Blueprint for Creating a Public Defender Office in Texas. This 2008 report looks at existing public defender offices from diverse jurisdictions and discusses advantages and disadvantages that each county should consider when examining their own indigent defense delivery system. In addition, the report provides an initial public defender feasibility worksheet and a step-by-step guide to creating a public defender office.


Ron in Houston said...


I really want to write a fan letter. You do so much to keep criminal justice issues in the public eye.

In a society that wants to just throw them away and lock away the key, you're doing a valuable public service.

I can't tell you how many interesting and valuable roads you've made me consider.

Thanks for the loads of great information in this post.

Chester said...

HapiBlogging to you my friend! Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Corruption in Abilene, Tx (The Friendly Frontier)

The parents of parolees, wives, other family are told by the Abilene Parole office that they do not need warrants to arrest anybody AND HOLD THEM IN


Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks so much, Ron, I really appreciate that!

Anonymous said...

The Chief/Gestapo of the Bexar County CSCD doesn't care about the RIGHTS of his employees or the criminals and/or the citizens!

Anonymous said...

To the 1:57 am blog:
Corruption exist in other counties. Look at what has been happening at the Bexar County Adult Probation Department since 2004.
The director of the Bexar County Adult Probation Department has 4 pending LAWSUITS. Two in District Court and Two in Federal Court. He was hired in November of 2004.
The most recent lawsuit involves an Adult Probation officer, who went public (Whistleblower), exposing false positive urinalysis from a contracted out U.A. lab. Some of those probationers who gave false positives were arrested, lost their jobs and had their probations revoked. Some went to jail and others to prison. WHY?
In November 2007, a Wrongful Termination lawsuit was filed in Federal Court. This officer was fired for both doing his job as an Adult Probation officer and for leaving work on a medical emergency. This officer in the performance of his job was trying to get a known drug dealer off the streets of San Antonio, Texas after the probationer herself gave a positive urinalysis for cocaine. The same drug the drug dealer was supplying to her customers: High School Students.
A third Lawsuit involves a Sexual Harrassment issue against Fitzgerald.
The most recent FIRING of an employee was the Deputy Director, he was the #2 man at the Department. As of this date, no reason has been given why he was terminated. Rumor has it he was getting tired of Fitzgerald's SHIT. So, he was terminated.
There is no MORALE at the Bexar County Adult Probation Department. Officers are leaving in large numbers.It is sad that Fitzgerald's bosses, 21 County and District Judges, don't give a DAMN about the Adult Probation officers in Bexar County. It is beyond reasoning how those same Judges allowed Fitzgerald to destroy, at one time, one of the best Adult Probation Departments in Texas. It is time for Bill Fitzgerald to leave Texas and go back to where he came from: The state of Arizona.
Look at KSAT.COM for the story & video showing the rally of support on the Whistleblower. Five union representatives along with a hundred Adult Probation officers were there in support. Overall, an estimated 150 people attended the rally.
Austin officials when are you going to WAKE-UP and begin taking some action to protect the Adult Probation Officers in Texas.

Anonymous said...

For those of you interested in viewing all related stories and videos pertaining to the Adult Probation officer (Whistleblower), when you go to the site: KSAT.COM put the word whistleblower in the search area.

Anonymous said...

Is it really such a surprise that Probation Officer's are leaving due to pay and job satisfaction? I do think though they should have interviewed and looked for some of the human factors as well such as what percentage thought they would 'change the world' when they came into the Probation service. How many believe that since they cannot have a high revocation rate they feel they cannot do their jobs, etc. I will agree that some Probation officers are good people. I hold my ex-PO in high regard.( She has left the job also for better pay in a private sector employer).

Anonymous said...

I agree, the turnover here in Houston on porbation ffoicers is terrible. Let's consider that they make less than 35K per year, and the case load is from 150-300 each.
The problem lies with the rate of "technical revocation" incidents in Houston, and if something could be put in place to better monitor offenders, then that alone I think would be a great help for the reduction of work load on the probation officers.

Anonymous said...

The problem with court appointed lawyers is that the judges dont actually pay them for the work done.

Suppose the attorney works 10 hours on a plea negotiation. The attorney files the report to the court and should be paid for those hours. Instead the judge crosses out the 10 and puts in a 2 so the attorney is only paid for 2 hours. If the attorney complains then they don't get any more appointments.

This sets up a situation where the only attornies willing to take the cases are "do gooders" willing to donate some of their time and the "bottom feeders" that are only doing an amount of work they are paid to do, even if that means giving the defendant insufficient representation. The "do gooders" dont complain because it is their choice. The "bottom feeders" don't complain because admitting to giving sub-par representation could cost their license.

What we need is a class-action civil suit against the county to recover the lost hours. If the county was forced to pay the full cost, more attorneys would be willing to participate and having a court appointed lawyer wouldnt be just a widely variable thing depending on if you get a do gooder or a bottom feeder.

Anonymous said...

The KSAT report states five unions were at the rally. A blogger estimates 150 people were at the rally. If five unions could come up with only 150 people, this is not a lot of support for anyone.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To 3:25 - there are only about 400-450 employees in the entire department, so if 150 were there that would be one out of every three employees.

Anonymous said...

To blogger 3:25:

You must be a Fitzgerald supporter?

Your blog says it all-That you are worried for your job or position?
You must be someone who was recently promoted by Fitzgerald.
So, you want to complain because only 150 people showed up at the RALLY.
When are you Fitzgerald supporters going to rally for him? Or are you ashamed to show your faces to the media and to the citizens of Bexar Count.
I would bet my annual salary as an Adult Probation officer you would not show up.
It is pitiful no rally's have ever been held for anything supportive in regards to Fitzgerald.
Face it, Fitzgerald's days as a director are numbered.
It is time for all you bus riders to get off the Arizona pony express and hitch a ride with the Texas Sugarland express.
Can you say: Fitzgerald when you leave Texas don't let the door knob hit you in the as?

Anonymous said...

To Grits
Maybe 150 supporters showed up, but they were not all from the probation department. That is clear from the film footage. One out of three employees in our department DID NOT show up.

Anonymous said...

Maybe 150 people showed up for the rally. Or maybe is was more. Get over it and stop crying about it blogger 8:01.

Anonymous said...

In the KSAT report attorney David Van Os spoke for Sherri Simonelli, stating Chief Fitzgerald is union busting. Attorney Van Os knows from personal experience being accused does not mean guilt.

An article in the Austin Chronicle dated 4-6-01 provides information concerning a complaint made to the National Labor Relations Board against Van Os and Associates. The complaint accuses the Van Os firm of engaging in actions designed to interfere with his employees' attempts to engage in concerted activity and potentially to organize a union. Many complaints were specifically made against David Van Os.

The article also states The National Labor Relations Board even issued a formal complaint against Van Os and Associates. The complaint was eventually dismissed several years later.

My point is that making a desicion without all the facts is not wise. It will take years and many court dates to solve this suit.

Anonymous said...

Hey 8:01,

It doesn't matter if it was 150 or 350. There were more than enough to form a lynch mob. All that was missing was a tall limb, a short rope, and fat, sweaty, little crook that, at least, had enough sense not to show up.

Anonymous said...

It does matter how many people showed up because the low number proves Sherri Simonelli does not have a lot of support. She did not even get half of the members at the probation office to attend.

Sherri Simonelli simply does not have the support of the members. The interest in her firing and situation has dropped of dramatically. Union membership will decrease due to the union's unwillingness to address issues that matter to someone besides Sherri Simonelli. Let's talk about wages, case size, and officer safety.

Anonymous said...

To blogger 8:31:

With a Dictator, at the helm of the Bexar County Adult Probation Department, who abuses his power to FIRE it's employees "AT WILL", it's no wonder more people did not show up to support Sherri Simonelli.
Officers who are non-union and union members did not show up for the rally due to future RETALIATION from Fitzgerald & his cronies. Officers and other employees and SCARED they will lose their jobs.
Face it, Simonelli is winning her case in the public eye.

Let us look at the facts:

1.) There has never been a rally held in support of Fitzgerald & his cronies.
2.) Nothing positive has ever been printed in the news-papers pertaining to Fizgerald & his cronies.
3.) There are 4 pending Lawsuits against Fitzgerald.
You Fitzgerald supporters need to stop crying and get a grip on reality. Reality being his days are numbered.