Thursday, October 23, 2008

Open Thread

I'm out today to attend this conference by the Task Force on Indigent Defense. Consider this an open thread to discuss whatever criminal justice topics are on your mind.


Anonymous said...

RETALIATION by Perry and Livingston on having been held accountable by Senator Whitmire.

Anonymous said...

How about holding Whitmire accountable? He knew about TYC abuses back in 2003-04; but didn't act until the scandal appeared!

Anonymous said...

Looks like Dallas COunty isn't the only one subject to the whims of the County Commisisoners. I understand the Public Defender Appellate Office in Bexar County is on the chopping block. I do nto think the entire department is headed into the trash can, onlly the majority of it. When will those yahoos ever realize that while dismatling the office may decrease expenses in the short run, it will increases expenses in the future. What a bunch of short-sighted jackasses!!

Anonymous said...

Texas Youth Commission cancels contract for empty juvenile prison

05:05 PM CDT on Thursday, October 23, 2008
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN — After spending $1.26 million over three months on an empty juvenile prison in Eagle Lake, the Texas Youth Commission said today it is cancelling the controversial contract.

It’s unclear whether the agency will reclaim the money.

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said he had assurances from the TYC that all the money would be recovered from the prison operator, Youth Services International.

“I was told [by TYC Executive Commissioner Cherie Townsend] that they’re going to reimburse the funds,” Mr. Whitmire said. “They know they weren’t delivering a service. If that company would like to be considered again, they’re returning all the money.”

But a TYC press release said only that the vendor has been asked to account for how much they’ve spent so far. The last two checks to the vendor have been canceled.

The juvenile justice agency, still recovering from a sexual and physical abuse scandal in 2007, came under fire last week when lawmakers learned its former conservator had agreed to pay more than $1 million in start-up fees for the Houston-area prison. Richard Nedelkoff was relieved of his duties last week after Gov. Rick Perry said the agency was ready to operate on its own.

The point of the contract, agency officials said, was to do what state leaders had asked of them – to quickly get kids in facilities closer to their homes. But lawmakers said they never authorized paying generous start-up fees for prisons without any kids in them. And they questioned the value of opening a 119-bed facility when the TYC’s population was already declining.

Today, Ms. Townsend, who was not at the TYC when the contract was signed, said in a statement that the TYC is re-evaluating its needs.

“We must fully utilize our existing resources and develop a fiscally responsible plan that acknowledges our changing youth population,” she said.

TYC officials did not comment on whether they would be able to recover the money. They said they are reviewing the vendor’s expenditures with the assistance of the Texas attorney general’s office, and are hoping for “a reconciliation.”

Anonymous said...

The times are right for Restorative Justice to be seriously integrated into the laws of our state. The hard economic times that will soon be upon every state in the union, will hopefully focus our legislatures attention on the opportunity to downsize TDCJ's Institutional Divisions operations and shifting funds into Probation and Parole programs that provides a greater focus on victim compensation programs as well as treatment, educational and vocational training programs for offenders. Cheaper technologies are available, such as electronic monitoring and GPS, which would help address public safety concerns, while at the same time helping to put Texans back into their communities and families. Keep some institutional capacity for the badest of the bad, maybe 50,000 beds. Release or transition the other 100,000 into halfway houses and other secure transitional programs, with a focus on ultimately placing them on parole or probation for the remainder of their sentence. Allow parole and probation to give good time incentives for those who engage in treatment, education and job training along with community service. Ultimately we increase the tax paying base as non-productive inmates become productive workers. Give the first priority for new probation and parole positions to displaced correctional officers and other prison workers. Transition the law enforcement capacity of the OIG from the prisons to the streets ro an extra measure of public safety. The savings from closing down massive institutions would cover the cost of that transition and allow for an increase in the number of parole and probation officer to take on the addittional releases. Now is the time for the good of the Texas Economy.

Anonymous said...

Can anonymous 8:48 tell us more about the Bexar Co. Appellate P.D.? Has this been reported in the press? What's the story on this?

Anonymous said...

As I have mentioned before, the chairman of the Public Safety Commission has requested an Attorney General opinion to find out if, all of a sudden after knowing full well that drivers license checkpoints have been judged to be illegal in Texas and since 1994, the Texas Department of Public Safety may start again having roadblocks and checkpoints all over Texas ostensibly to check for valid current drivers license, "proof of financial responsibility" which means vehicle liability insurance, and God knows what else. The DPS troopers would conduct the checkpoints but the Attorney General opinion may also grant the DPS the power to authorize local sheriff and police law enforcement officers to conduct these checkpoints.
I have written a comment speaking out against the reinstitution of what I consider to be police state tactics against the citizens, but another matter about this has come to my attention.

Grits readers please help here if you can...

I am most interested in knowing if the Chairman of the Texas Public Safety Commission, Allen B. Polunsky, is the brother of or is a blood relative of Steven Polunsky who is in the Austin Texas office of the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Steven Polunsky is Texas Senate Director of the Transportation and HOMELAND SECURITY Committee in Austin.

It will be a very gross looking conflict of interest if these men are brothers or related by "consanguinity".

I am fighting checkpoints in Texas and fighting the implementation of the Real ID Act in Texas, two matters that I regard as very closely related.

The DPS's chief Judy Brown testified at a recent PSC meeting a few days ago that DPS has applied for 171 million dollars in federal Dept. of Homeland Security money (grants) to implement Real ID. The use of these monies is probably vague and can be used to implement the checkpoints as well as the federal Real ID Act.

Keep Texans Free !

Stop messin with Texas !

Anonymous said...

Snitching; Drug Cases; and Too Much Drug Enforcement at the Wrong Levels

Want to make sure that two issues are clear: the first is snitching in drug cases and their value; or the notion that you start at the bottom and work your way up. That's a myth.

Starting at the bottom in drug cases works but it's the WORST way to make a good drug case. With today's technology; all I need is one good phone number. That number will give me the drug source and the source's number will give me a trail to other good numbers. DEA and the FBI have this technology and capability but they're too partnered up with state and locals. Drug enforcement is so localized you don't dare follow a good number outside of the acceptable areas or you're labeled a non-cooperator. I use to call it enforcement paralysis. Cooperation among law enforcement is good but it should only be used when it's needed. An arrest should be the last thing you do because it closes down more opportunities than it opens.

A second myth is the notion that drug cases moving trough the local state and federal system aren't just as tainted as cases that DNA later proves were bad.

As a DEA Agent you know when a state or local brings you a bad snitch; or a bad case. Nothing matches up; leads are not coroborrated but the pressure to cooperate pushes a mess through the system that unfortunately DNA can't dispel.

Finally, no one is to blame for a model that ineffective; outdated; and needs changed. They're following money and the only fix is to take away the money and hold each level accountable for what happens at their level.

A pile of arrests is not a measure of success and DEA Agents working drug cases in Austin, Texas aren't practicing to target the Hezbollah or the Taliban.

The Drug Problem in the US; whether it's money or drugs; is directly related to our country's ability to maintain a world focus; and not get mired down in a Texas problem that Texans should be encouraged to solve.

Don Dickson said...

My preliminary investigation prompts me to doubt that there is any relation between Allan Polunsky of the PSC and Steven Polunsky of the Senate Cmte. on Transportation & Homeland Security. I am informed that Steven is from San Angelo and that his father is or was in the grocery business. Allan is a mortgage lawyer from San Antonio. I'll continue to inquire, but it appears there is no connection between the two.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Dickson.

I need to find out for sure though because if true, this could be powerful in stopping the dissolution of Texans' Fourth Amendment rights.

Anonymous said...

Found out Allen Polunsky is "distant cousin" of Steven Polunsky.

On another issue, which I regard as a criminal justice matter, thought I would summarize what several mainstream news articles are prediciting.

They are saying McCain will "win" with like 51.3 percent of votes.

There will be, and are indeed now even in early voting, massive numbers of complaints of elections fraud and "malfunctioning" voting machines. People may get rowdy and vocal.

Executive branch will declare martial law and do the totalitarian crackdown these dishonest thugs have been itching for for a long time. Executive Branch will tell the American people " tough cookies, McCain is your new commander in chief ".

Police state / martial law is on the agenda and the media is priming us with propaganda to set us up for this.

This is just what is being written.

Here is one article.

Police fear riots if Barack Obama loses US election
US police fear riots could break out if John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, wins the election next month.

By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles
Last Updated: 7:51AM BST 24 Oct 2008