Thursday, March 11, 2010

Special treatment: 2/3 of inmates would be paroled under lenient standard for defrocked prosecutor

Talk about special treatment by the Texas parole board! According to the Dallas News:

See a man off to prison with a 15-year sentence, you expect him to stay gone awhile. Which is why some in Rockwall are surprised to hear that Ray Sumrow is out on parole after 20 months.

Sumrow, 60, was the sixth-term Republican district attorney in Rockwall when convicted twice in 2008.

Prison and parole officials said Sumrow qualified for parole based on a formula that weighs the nature of his crimes and the sum of "flat time," the actual number of days he served, plus "good time" plus "work time."

Of course, about 2/3 of offenders in TDCJ also qualify for parole when you add up good time, work time, and flat time, so they should be released too, by that line of reasoning. But in cases involving regular inmates, that's not how Texas' parole board rolls. Indeed, if the board was routinely so generous in rewarding good time and work time, the state literally could begin shutting down the majority of prisons tomorrow. However, the Sumrow parole decision was a special favor to a former "Prosecutor of the Year," not a typical example of how parole operates in Texas.

It'd be interesting to do a study of offenders convicted during Sumrow's tenure to see how many of them benefited so much from good time and work time credits. I'd bet the ranch it'd be very, very few.


Red Leatherman said...

I'm trying to be nice, my wife doesn't like me getting all worked up so... whatever boyness is gonna say I agree.

doran said...

Yeah, Boyness will have the correct view on this, I'll betcha.

Grits, can you post the names and the official (not personal) mailing addresses of the Parole Board who indulged in this shameful example of cronyism? And whether or not there were any dissenting votes?

doran said...

Oh yeah. Did Gov. Perry make a recommendation for or against parole for Mr. Sumrow?

Shadowguv said...

Hmmm. Which elected official appoints the Parole Board? Why are we surprised with this double standard?

Anonymous said...

I'd be more curious to hear from Grits concerning whether, under his increasingly lenient standards regarding incarceration, he feels that Sumrow should have ever been sentenced to prison to begin with. Is there a distinction here between non-violent first time felony drug offenders, and non-violent first time property crime offenders? I personally have no problem with punishing harshly public servants who violate the public trust. I don't have a problem harshly punishing drug offenders either. But it seems to me that Grits frequently employs a double standard when it comes to his intolerance and judgment for different types of non-violent offenders.

Faceless Man said...


If he spent most of his time at the Goree Unit in Huntsville, he was likely voted by commissioners/members from the Huntsville Board Office.

Here's the address:
1300 11th Street #520
Huntsville, Texas 77342

ckikerintulia said...

Apply the same standard to everybody. One size fits all. Then TDCJ would have their budget cut in place. Maybe they could even trade off a little of it to some other dept. A new version of cap and trade?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:30, I'm not employing a double standard, I'm observing one!

My views on incarceration have been pretty consistent over the years - I don't know why you consider them "increasingly lenient." I've been advocating the same positions, in essence, since the day this blog was launched.

To answer your question: Yes, a strong probation regimen would likely have been sufficient for Mr. Sumrow from a public safety perspective, but that wasn't the sentence he received. Texas issues many long sentences I don't think are necessary. But the point of this post is that the parole board afforded maximum leniency to Sumrow and if they treated everyone that way, it would empty most of the prisons.

Doran, I don't know who was on the 3-person panel that sprung Sumrow. And I'm sure Perry kept as far away from it all as possible - he's way too smart a pol for that.