Friday, April 16, 2010

Will public support cuts to prisons during budget crunch?

I've not seen any opinion research on how Texans might prioritize budget cuts next year, but a recent poll in California, which is facing an epic budget crisis, found cutting corrections costs is one of the few reductions supported by the public. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The poll asked voters if they would support or oppose cuts in 14 areas of state spending to reduce the budget deficit. Majorities of voters favored making cuts in only two of the 14 categories.

“The voters really aren’t showing us the way on these kinds of things,” said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo. “Previous surveys have shown that they do favor spending cuts over tax increases, yet when you ask them which areas of state spending would you favor cutting, the big categories are rejected by large margins.”

Reductions in two areas were favored by majorities of voters polled — prisons and correctional facilities, 56 percent, and state parks and recreational facilities, 52 percent.

I'm sure the same voters all want lower taxes, of course. That seems like par for the course these days. Still, it's interesting that prisons topped the list of cuts Golden State voters say they could live with. I wonder if a Texas poll would discover similar results here?

Increasingly I find TDCJ's call for exclusion from budget cuts ill-conceived, and even more so their suggestion that, if necessary, cuts should come from probation and diversion programs instead of prisons. Compared to other big-ticket items, corrections is the one area where Texas can cut safely and smartly. On schools and health care, the financial dynamics are more complex and problematic. School finance is its own nasty mess and every dollar cut from healthcare loses $2 from the feds.

For corrections, though, Texas knows what path will get us there: Expand diversion programs, adjust sentencing policies, and close older, more expensive prison units or eliminate contracted beds we don't need. It won't be difficult to identify units for possible closure. More than three out of five Texas prisoners are eligible for parole; many could be released safely if we'd beef up supervision and reentry resources for parolees. With a few, key policy adjustments, thousands more could be diverted into strong probation on the front end.

So the best reason to cut corrections during a budget crisis is because, as opposed to schools and healthcare, it's actually possible and reasonable to do so. If it turns out that, as in California, the public supports prison cuts more than other possible strategies to reduce spending, it'll be hard to argue that TDCJ's prison budget should somehow remain sacrosanct.


Hook Em Horns said...

"Will public support cuts to prisons during budget crunch?"
I WILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

That's the spirit, Boyness! :)

sunray's wench said...

“The voters really aren’t showing us the way on these kinds of things,” said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo. “Previous surveys have shown that they do favor spending cuts over tax increases, yet when you ask them which areas of state spending would you favor cutting, the big categories are rejected by large margins.”

Here's a novel concept: the population votes in Legislators so that the Legislators make the decisions on behalf of the voters. If you are going to ask the voters again what to do afterwards, what is the point of having the Legislators at all?

It also depends on how you phrase the question. If you ask Joe Bloggs "Do you want to pay less tax?" Joe is going to say "yes." but if you ask Joe, "Will you support paying lower taxes if it means that your trash wont be taken away every week / your kids will no longer have free schooling / the broken play equipment in the park wont get fixed?" you will get a different answer when the question is fundamentally the same.

The populous needs to be better informed about how their taxes are spent in relation to inmate containment and the variety of other options available to Legislators. Unfortunately the populous isn't interested until one of their own is incarcerated. Still, with the way Texas is going, that will be everyone in Texas before too long.

Anonymous said...

As part of the tax paying public and wife of an incarcerated inmate who could and should be paroled, but instead was set off for 2 years, I support the prison cuts.

His crime: a dismissed misdemeaner for which his parole was revoked. He chose to not turn himself in. 8 years later Sept 20, 2008, he was pulled over for not putting on a blinker. He had a false ID, his ONLY crime in the entire 10 years since he was released on parole in 1999.

Without knowing he was a parole violator, he was beaten severely, for which he had to be taken to the emergency room, where 14 stitches were put in his head. The officer intentionally dislocated his shoulder, he was put in isolation without a mattress for his bed, received no follow up medical attention except ibuprofen. When I saw him 10 days later at the Johnson County jail, he still had caked blood in his hair because he had not had a shower in all that time and his body was black and blue from shoulder to thigh.

The officer received a commendation for capturing a big, bad parole violator. When I heard the patrol car video of my husband's beating and listened to my husband calmly telling this officer to please quit hitting him, that he wasn't going to try to harm him, only to hear that officer continue to hit him over and over again, I feel sick to my stomache that my tax dollars also pay the salary of this rogue officer. How many others has he beaten!

And then to insure his conviction record is safe, the Johnson County DA enhanced his original charge, guaranteeing a 2-20 conviction (after all he did have a false ID on him)unless he took a plea bargain. Since he had already be in JC jail a year, he took a 5 yr. plea, which amounted to time served. He was eligible for parole the day he was returned to TDCJ.

But no, once again TDCJ decided to flex their muscle, and set my husband off for 2 years, although they had over 70 support letters in their possession, not just from family & friends who love and support his release, but also from professionals my husband worked for and with for the 8 years after his parole revocation.

He is a talented builder, who was and can easily again be an asset to any community he lives in. We had a construction business that provided jobs; we took care of several older individuals, some family, some not. This man is NO criminal.

Anonymous said...

And when the Board set him off, here's their reasons:

1) Inmate has repeatedly committed criminal episodes or is a leader or active participant in a gang or organized criminal activity.

2) Inmate had unsuccessful periods of supervision on previous parole.

My husband belongs to no gang, has never had any gang affiliation in his life, he doesn't even have one tatoo. He has never even had a speeding ticket in his entire life.

Obviously, TDCJ can place in an individuals file anything that justifies their actions.

My husband attended all parole appointments prior to being revoked, never missed payment of his restitution, and even had a favorable relationship with his parole office, who by the way voted for him to be returned home after the charges against him were dismissed, NOT for his parole to be revoked.

On the other hand, the parole hearing officer sent a biased report to the parole board that totally misrepresented the facts of the false accusation against him, that was later dismissed, and voted to revoke him, and of course, the other voters followed her recommendation. The motion to reopen his hearing was denied.

Does the public like paying taxes for the housing, feeding, clothing and medical needs of inmates of individuals who shouldn't be there in the first place and can be returned safely to society? My husband is NOT the only inmate in TDCJ who remains incarcerated without just cause.

The parole board answers to noone. I even wrote to the governor, who promptly sent me a letter saying the parole board has sole discretion. I sent his entire parole packet to Judge Sparks and had it sent back because he can't decide on an individual's case.

There have been articles posted by Grits for Breakfast about how the parole board votes in secrecy and they do not review the files individually as needed.

For a year and a half my husband has been incarcerated for a dismissed misdemeanor, which led to using a false ID. Even the persons ID who he used doesn't support his incarceration.

His name is Clifton Tinder. I want him to be released. You should too. His incarceration is not justified. He's foremost NOT a criminal, he has the support of his family and friends, he is an asset to any community he lives in and he is NO threat to society. So, why's he there?

sunray's wench said...

Mrs Tinder ~ I agree with everything you say except one small thing. You say your husband is not a criminal. I'm sorry, but he broke the law to be on parole, and then broke the law (in however much a "small" way) by not turning himself in, and agin by having a fake ID. That makes him a criminal, just as much as my husband is for braking the law.

But apart from that your husband's case highlghts everything that is wrong with the BPP as it exists today and the processes it uses. They know they are untouchable while Perry is Governor.

Anonymous said...

To Sunray's wench: I appreciate your comments. I am not minimizing my husband's decisions to not turn himself in when his parole was revoked nor to carry a false ID. I can personally tell everyone out there that my husband does not have a "criminal personality", although he has a "criminal history".

Most people have heard the expression "bad things happen to good people". It does.

Even his original conviction in 1991 was the result of unusual circumstances. And of course, the first thought in everyone's mind is "prison is full of innocent people, according to them". There really are people in prison who do not belong there. My husband had been diagnosed bipolar. He was not. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with severe blood sugar levels. Treatment is relatively simple. However, in 1991, that was unheard of. Bipolar was the common diagnosis for those with fluctuating moods and erratic behavior. While his doctor was regulating his medications, prozak and several others, he was having blackouts because his body was reacting negatively to what he was taking. A robbery was committed, his truck was found empty in the area and he couldn't tell them where he was. He was sentenced to 30 years. He was a successful businessman at the time, didn't need money, and there was no evidence presented against him in his 30 minute trial, with his court appointed attorney who didn't want to be there. Too simplistic. Looks that way on the surface. Actually, it's true. He served over 8 of those 30 years. That's water under the bridge. If anyone wants to call him a "criminal" for that, again, he has a "criminal history", not a "criminal personality".

What's important is that TDCJ does not look at whether an individual can be returned to their home, can they live a life that does not involve doing drugs, stealing, raping, murdering, all the crimes that make a person a serious threat to society. The parole board revoked my husband on a technicality. As stated above, his own parole officer, who had supervised him for a year and a half recommended his return home under continued supervision. The parole hearing officer said in the hearing, while discussing her decision, "I don't want to lose my job, I can't afford to lose my job?" Now why would she be worried that voting to send my husband home would cost her her job? Hmmm....doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out she felt her job was at risk for some reason. By who? Why? The injustices committed against my husband are numerous, not just one incident.

And what is injustice? in·jus·tice (n-j s t s) n. 1. Violation of another's rights or of what is right; lack of justice. 2. A specific unjust act; a wrong.

We are all raised to believe in justice and when injustice occurs, it changes how we view our environment, those we once believe in and effects our entire lives from that point on.

Whose going to hold those who claim to dispense justice to the same standard as the rest of us, when they meet in secrecy, make discision based on fear and bias, ignore evidence that does support their actions and thereby break the law themselves.

Who if responsible to uphold justice, including correcting their own injustices?


If you're not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. There are those of us who would fix the problem if we could, (our hands are tied), there are those of you out there who can fix the problem and should (many because your hands are dirty, others have the ability, the power to fix the problem, just lack the motivation to do anything about it. Someday it may be your husband, your wife, your son, your daughter, someone that matters to you. WHY WAIT?

Unknown said...

Important typo correction:

"ignore evidence does NOT support their decisions"

Anonymous said...

Hey I wonder if any body knows who's false id mr. tinder had/taken.... I know, a man that worked part time for him at his construction business that had no clue his identity was bein used by a man he was supposed to trust, his own boss! But there's no criminal here!

Anonymous said...

And I wonder what cheap dime story you buy your information from? Why don't you tell the public how you know what you claim to know?

2:56 said...

FROM 2:56
To: 12:18am response
Is that like "I know a man whose friend is a cousin of my friend whose sister is related to my uncle, ect.... ect... blah - blah - blah -so you know the man that worked part time for him. Doesn't make you an "expert witness" - the facts and proof....
That is the same as me saying - I know someone who knows you and knows all about your past and what you did. You just haven't been caught yet. Here is a post to make you wonder.

Anonymous said...

To 2:56 and to the other blogger, I guess you can say the victim and I are one in the same

2:56 said...

So if you are one in the same person - what did you do about it. Did you turn him in? Or did you willingly supply the ID? Something doesn't add up here????? If you knew he had it,or allowed him to have it, then you are an - accessory to a crime (definition) so that you understand- is any individual who knowingly and voluntarily participates in the commission of a crime - excessory to the fact.

Anonymous said...

Would you give your id and information away? Of course I didn't give it to him for PERSONAL use. As an employee you have to give identification information to your employer.I was very hurt and shocked that my "boss" would do that to another person much less me, simply because he knew if he used his own id, and he had a parole violation out and he would go back. But as you can see the lord works in mysterious ways and it back fired on him. I did what I had to do and obviously he is BACK in prison.

2:56 said...

When you say it like that - you knew he was on parole ??? You had more information than most employees and employers share. So what did you not get a raise - so you turned him in - knowing that he was using your ID? See, this can go both ways. You could have been into something that could emplement you - so you had to let your "boss" take the heat. Boy, you must really not like your boss.

Anonymous said...

He was pulled over and gave an id with my info on it to the officer. I have no clue how he got it made but it was his picture and my info. And no I didn't know he was on parole until after he was convicted and sent back, and as a matter of fact that was my side job I had and still have another job, I thought that he was my buddy. I didn't need that job I did it ON THE SIDE and had done it for years because I needed some thing to do on my off days. No I didn't need a raise. And I am still not pissed off at him, but feel a bit of sorrow for the family that that is waiting on him. I can see that maybe you are getting at that this is my fault in some way. I just like to keep up on this blog and when I seen this on Cliff I couldn't not say any thing. But any way you try to word your cute comments in no way shape or form will you be able to get it back on me, because the fact of the matter is or was I am the victim here not the aid. Thanks for your many questions.

2:56 said...

Excuse the comments, you just don't know who to trust these days and what they say. If you say you are the victim - then so be it. Too many people (especially the legal system) lie so much that no one really knows the truth anymore. There are always three sides to the story - yours his and the truth. - I am not calling you a liar - don't know ya - just stating a comment on how people look at things now. I just know that in my case - the truth did not set my cousin free. It was the same as a fake ID situation. It was in his car - didn't even belong to him. He was set up. - so no harm done?

Anonymous said...

To the blogger who claims to be the "victim". Who are you really?

Now folks, isn't this interesting?

Here's someone who's "pretending" to be the person whose ID was used, and what's he himself doing? STEALING THAT SOME PERSON'S IDENTITY?

Oh the depth to which some of you from JC will stoop. It's legal to lock someone up for using a false ID but then you can come on here, pretending to be that same person, impersonating him, and you haven't done anything wrong. It's all the same dude!

No, actually there is a difference: "Officers" can use any means availble to them to get information, including impersonating an individual. You totally misused information that you can into possession of, probable through work with that individual.

Now that's the pot calling the kettle black!

YOU'RE BUSTED! I called the person who's ID was used. He said it's not him. And he doesn't appreciate your pretending to be. I knew by what you were saying, you weren't him. I just needed time to reach him before I busted you.

He told me to let everybody reading these blog know; He doesn't consider himself a "victim". No harm came to him or his family in any was as a result of his ID being used. AND that he didn't write any of the so-called "victim" blogs above.

Anonymous said...

aawww you must be the convicts wife. How are you?

Anonymous said...

and you?

Anonymous said...

What important is not who I am but who you are not!!!