Monday, December 13, 2010

Sheriffs: Let technical parole violators bond out of jail

The Sheriff's Association of Texas will be pushing next year for passage of a law which was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2007 allowing bail for parolees arrested on technical violations. Reports the Houston Chronicle ("Sheriffs say new parole law could free beds," Dec. 13):
Each month, an average of 2,286 state parole violators are housed in Texas jails, a policy costing taxpayers at least $42 million a year. Harris County has the largest tab — estimated at $7.6 million. This year, Harris County has had from 900 to 1,250 parole violators in jail each month.

As local and state budgets get increasingly tightened, Sheriff Adrian Garcia and other members of the Sheriffs' Association of Texas are asking the Legislature for help with jail costs.

"I stand with sheriffs across Texas who have agreed on allowing state parole violators who are in our custody for technical reasons, and technical reasons only, to post bond," Garcia said in a statement released by his office. "Allowing them to make bond for technical issues makes sense because we need jail space for those violators who are committing new crimes and have yet to go through the criminal justice system."

Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk, who chairs the association's legislative committee, said changing the law to allow bond for parole violators is the group's second-highest priority for next year's legislative session, trailing only border security issues.

"The folks that are under parole violation (warrants) eat up a lot of our beds in our jails across the state, and bed space is a very precious resource for the counties,“ Kirk said. "So to lose 10 to 20 percent of your beds to parole violations is a terrible impact on that resource."
The story quotes ""Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley [describing] legislation to allow parole violators to bond as 'a weak-on-crime, bad bill.'" But the Sheriffs Association isn't generally subject to "weak on crime" criticisms and I'm not sure that particular bit of mudslinging will stick. Bradley says a better solution would be to speed up hearings for violators, but in the current budget environment that's probably not a realistic demand.

Gov. Perry in the past has signed legislation he previously vetoed on behalf of prosecutors - most prominently the landmark 2007 probation reforms, which Perry earlier vetoed in part at Bradley's request in 2005. Perry approved probation reform for the same reason this legislation has a chance next year: The economic reality of full prisons ran up against "tuff on crime" ideology, just as the reality of full county jails arguably trumps the criticism that letting technical parole violators out on bail is "weak on crime." Now that counties have racked up tens of millions annually in incarceration costs in the years since Perry vetoed the legislation the last time, perhaps popular sentiment against excessive government spending will alter the terms of debate to allow this idea to be implemented.


Ryan Paige said...

John Bradley thinks letting innocent people out of jail is being soft on crime.

D.A. Confidential said...

Just a question, and one I should probably know the answer to: what is a "technical violation"?

Anonymous said...

And how many parole violators are actually incarcerated for "technical violations" as opposed to those locked up for new crimes?

Anonymous said...

I call BS on this one.
Blue warrants are designed to administer jail therapy and deliberately put the parolee in time out in a local jail. They have no intention of sending them back to the big house. They are PIA'd right from the same jail. The state doesn't even reimburse the counties for housing their parolees.
This move will only put money in the bondsman's pocket.

Anonymous said...

A "technical violation" is where the parolee pisses-off the parole officer.

rodsmith said...

yes i agree completly. An even better smarter law would be

"Prohibit parole violations on so-called TECHNICAL violations. Parole Violation can only happen when a NEW crime occures and criminal charge will result."

There. No more prison beds took up becasue some ex con was 10 min late for a meeting or didnt' have the 50-100 Dollar probation fee.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't having speedier revocation hearings be a smarter way to handle the "problem."
Technical violations include failing to report as required and moving to a new location without permission and failing to observe curfew--you know, things that are kind of important in the supervision of a convicted felon. So a go and sin no more attitude is absurd.

Anonymous said...

""Prohibit parole violations on so-called TECHNICAL violations. Parole Violation can only happen when a NEW crime occures and criminal charge will result."

What's the point of a probation then? Pee dirty? no problem. Keep using! Haven't paid restitution? No worries!


Anonymous said...

As a 60 year old ex-parolee, I was sent back to a Texas prison from another state in 2007 because the Texas Parole Board issued a warrant for me in 2003 for failing to notify them of my new address; even though I continually sent in my annual report to Austin. I graduated from seminary, and received my degree. This incident took place so fees could be generated from me, even though I was sentenced prior to this mandate.I was sentenced in 1978 for Theft.Was incarcerated until 1985, and have been on parole without incident until I was arrested in 2007 for a warrant issued in 2003. Finally my parole was finished in 2008. I lost everything that I had acquired. My home,cars,and anything else a person works toward from 1985 until
2007. All because of a mix-up in Austin. The parole board had stated that I owed fees over $2500.00 dollars, until I fought this through Huntsville's record keeping, since I was sentenced in 1978 before the fee's were institutated.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:30, what's "ridiculous" is that your imagination is so limited you can't imagine any other possible solution to those problems besides revocation to prison. As any four-year old viewer of Blues Clues could tell you, you need to "sit down in your thinking chair and think, think think."

7:24, speedier revocation hearings would be great. Where do you suggest they get the extra money to hire more staff and do that more quickly?

Keep in mind, the state just ordered TDCJ to cut $75 million, and owes another $61 million in back prisoner heatlthcare expenses, so the first $136 million worth of cuts you identify to pay for speedier revocations is already spoken for.

Anonymous said...

A revocation hearing doesn't automatically result in revocation you jack ass. It's a hearing. The allegations may be found untrue or a lesser sanction may be imposed than sending them back to prison.

I previously wrote that speedier hearings need to be held, not speedier sending back to pen. There are several different outcomes than can result from a hearing. I in no way stated or implied that every single alleged parole violator needs a speedier trip back to the pen. So the "i'm smarter than everyone else kid" needs to go back to his own friggin thinking chair and think or read before he types about others perceived lack of imagination.

Anonymous said...

Ignore the previous rant. Too much caffeine.

Don said...

Smooth! You call people names, rant and rave, etc. then instruct everyone to just ignore it. I'm gonna definitely use that!

Anonymous said...

To the 60 yr old parolee: My husband is 50 and he was locked up in 1988 on a 'Theft by Check' and sentenced to 15 years (on a plea bargain). He got out, served parole and 9 years later is arrested on a 'technical violation' of being out of the state of Texas without permission from his parole officer-- he DID NOT HAVE a parole officer! So he has been sitting in a SE Texas prison for 1.5 years, he is up for parole this month, but they have not even interviewed him! Supposedly Parole is 'behind' in their paroling individuals. No one wants to talk about it! We have our 2nd writ of habeas going through Criminal Court 182 (the first one was denied) and the first writ is in Federal court going through the process. We have had to sell most of what we have, I had to come out of retirement to work and my field does not pay to the level my husband's does, but by the Grace of God we have done all right! But Texas Department of Criminal Justice has ROBBED us of our time together! I will have a 'blue Christmas' without him again this year!

Anonymous said...

This story is close to the same problem as the sex offender registration. The state created it, but yet relies on local police departments to do the work for them. Same as technical violators sitting in jail, hence the PO doesn't have to see the parolee while they are locked up until the hearing. If they even do that, some PO's don't even do their own hearings. The parole dept has a special "pre rev" unit that only does hearings. Grits that dispells your response to 7:24....

Bottom line is: State agencies, county agencies and city agencies don't work well together and everyone loves to pass the buck as in this case..

Anonymous said...

My knowledge is limited on this but when an individual commits a crime they are allowed to bond out until their case comes up on the docket. That is when guilt or innocence is decided and appropriate action is taken. The accused can carry on with their jobs if they are fortunate enough to have one.
I don't know why it can't work the same for a parole violation. These people would likely be well behaved knowing what is coming up. A judge may well sentence them to week-ends in jail or programs of some sort so they can also continue with their jobs or at least support themselves and any family members who are dependent on them.
I do believe in second chances. It seems that second chances here would benefit all concerned.They seemingly broke the law but punishment prior to a hearing to determine sentencing sounds like something that should be illegal. The waiting in jail is sometimes more punishment than a judge would hand out. If a Judge were to order 6 months in jail for someone that has waited 2 years he should get paid for the extra 18 months that he was held hostage and lost all of his personal assets.
There are a million reasons to hate the system and this is just one of them. Tuff on crime costs us an ungodly amount of money. I can't afford to pay for revenge and most people are in the same boat. Isn't it about $40 a day to keep each of these individuals in jail?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:53/8::58, whether I'm a jackass or not (and many people agree with you), you failed to answer my question: "Where do you suggest they get the extra money to hire more staff and [hold hearings] more quickly?"

And be sure to come up with greater than $136 million in cuts, because that sum is already spoken for at TDCJ before any new money will be allocated to hold hearings more quickly.

BTW, DAC, I failed to answer your question. "Technical violations" are breaking rules, missing meetings, not paying fees, etc. - basically all instances where no new crime was committed but rules of probation were violated.

rodsmith said...


"What's the point of a probation then? Pee dirty?"

Let's see fail a drug test...darn that's becasue your using an ILLEGAL DRUG....NEW CRIME.

"Haven't paid restitution? No worries!"

Darn that evil U.S. Supreme Court OUTLAWED debtor's prison almost 200 years AGO.....sorry cant' lock em up for NOT having money.

Anonymous said...

12/14/2010 12:47:00 PM- You get the Nail on the Head Award.

The State of Texas is real good at creating unfunded mandates that the local jurisdiction have to deal with.
Texas is just plain cheap. Their employees are some of the lowest paid, and they don't do anything. Other states have give their parole officers arrest authority and then they police up their own wanted parolees. Not Texas, they issues blue warrants and hope that one of the 70,000 Texas peace officers stumble across their fugitive from justice.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Rod, there are methods of punishment besides jail, and jail stints can be of short or long durations. Nobody's saying don't have consequences for violators, just try to come up with punishments that don't harm the taxpayer more than they change offender behavior. Hawaii's HOPE program is an example of that kind of strong supervision model where courts have tools besides long-term incarceration to encourage good behavior.

Anonymous said...

I am a former hearing officer with the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Not many hearings are conducted for technical violations only. If this does occur it is because the parolee has been given many chances to correct the problem. By the time the parolee gets to a hearing there is normally no other option to revocation.

The majority of parole violators in the jails will have pending criminal charges. To reduce the number of parole hearings and needed staff the Board of Pardons and Paroles has elected to delay hearings until after the disposition of the new offense. This allows a revocation without a hearing being held if there is a conviction. Some of the parolees will be in jail for many months or years pending trial for the new offense.

Anonymous said...

12-15-10 8:01..

Please submit proof for your quote, " The majority of parole violators in the jails will have pending criminal charges"

I disagree with your statement. The truth is it's easier for a "tough" parole officer to do some paperwork and get the blue warrant issued than to actually spend some time encouraging the offender to correct the behavior that resulted in them wanting to issue a blue, failed drug test-refer them to drug treatment..I feel that if the state parole system were actually held accountable for paying for their parole violators sitting in county jail, their policies would change in a heartbeat...Maybe Brian Collier can figure this out sooner than later..

titfortat said...

8:01 just hit the nail on the head, (thank you)

And for 9:40 (submit proof) come on, get real this person is trying to give you the insight and instead of listening you immediately reject to notion, he is a (former) hearing office with no skin in the game.

Instead of bitching about all the things we should do that we (so very obviously) do not have the money to do (a small fact that the spend thrifts just can’t seem to comprehend) no matter how hard they are hit on the head.

The simple solution is to either let them bail out or do not incarcerate them period. As the only one in the group that actually knows the process (8:01) has enlightened the typical parolee that gets incarcerated is the one with a new criminal offense, which this particular measure doesn’t address at all.

The typical recourse then for the (new offender parolee) is to keep them locked up for an undetermined amount of time (usually months) before they have a hearing and they are then released (anyway) pending the outcome of the new criminal case.

So exactly what is the point of locking them up on a blue warrant?

And, if they are going to continue locking them up on blue warrants then rather than keeping them locked up long enough to let them go, why not just let them bond out and get out anyway which again this particular measure doesn’t even address.

Parolees are as presumed innocent of a new criminal offense as anybody else, hence after the hearing they are typically released.

As I will continue to opine supervised parole and probation are a major factor in the continued incarceration of victimless crimes and the poor are the masses that continue to receive the swift justice of all of this nonsense at considerable cost to taxpayers.

Being imprisoned should be punishment enough for drug crimes (that’s the big one), and if probation is granted then in both scenarios recidivism alone should be the yardstick for drug crimes.

Eliminate the cost of supervision for drug cases and concentrate on violent crimes where the public needs it. This is affordable common sense and would free up manpower and money to act responsibly, anything else comes with a price tag that we just simply can’t pay.

If we don’t have it we can’t pay for it and that is what the new conservatives understand plainly and will hopefully begin to address over the next few years despite the spend thrift politicians that were lucky enough to keep their heads off the chopping block this last election.

Anonymous said...

Former hearing officer again.

Grits posted an article "Parole, reentry, and cutting corrections cost" dated 7-2-10. The post states 14% of revocations are for technical violations only.

On 5-3-07 Grits posted an article "Intermediate sanctions bill makes parole policy more rational". This post states 19% of revocations are for technical violations only.

There has not been much change in three years but the parole board has made some progress.

Anonymous said...

As far as this BS about only technical violaters with new charges getting locked up, I have to diagree. My husband has already done 20 flat, he got out for five years and messed up by being outside the home because it was to hot in the house for him. He was sitting on the front porch when another parole officer (not His) came by to drop off paper work for someone else and saw him outside. She claimed he was drinking a beer when it was mine. Keep in mind she didn't say a word to anyone until a month and a half later when my husbands parole officer was about to go on vacation the next day. His parole was revoced and now he is back in prison and was denied parole again and has to spend another 2 years in prison and they also added 2 years to the end of his original sentence. So when you sit and say only the ones with new charges go back to the big house you may want to check out your facts because I know for a fact that many of the men in there are there for just technicals. When it all comes down to the basics the parole officers are told to put as many in prison as they can before the end of the physical year ends so the system can get more money for their budget for the following year and then they forget to get these guys out or is it that they can't process them fast enough so they just get denied parole and then OMG we just made more money for the system. It someones eyes this works but in mine it doesn't. My husband was paid in advance on his parole, had a good job, and made any meetings he was supposed to make and he was not a sex offender. So can someone please tell me what the hell happened in his case? Why do I have to suffer because someone in the system let the ball drop?

Unknown said...

My brother was in TDCJ for family violence and is still on parole. He was just arrested for the same thing, but case was "no charged" by district attorneys office. Do you think he will get sent back to prison cause his girlfriend lied that he hit her? He has never had any problems with parole and was a few months away from receiving his bachelors degree, but this has put a stop to everything!!!! May you give me some feedback please

Anonymous said...

my fieanceis sitting in jail on parole violation because he got a cpw4 which is a misodermer yes he didnt tell his parole officer cause he was scared 8months before that he got the same ticket which had nothin to do with him it got dropped down to disordely conduct his parole office truied to violatehim and arrest him but got denied he only has 1yr 8months left do you think they will send him back to max he hasbeen on paper for 3yrs with no violations

Anonymous said...

my fieance is sitting in jail on parole violationcause he didnttell his po that he got into trouble he got a cpw4 for going hunting this is his first violstion he has 1yr 8 mos left do you think they will max him he has not even gone to court for the charges yet the town judge wants to give him bail and a ankle braclet

Anonymous said...

One who breaks a rule without getting a new charge like not reporting dirty u a not paying his restitution ect ect