Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Final budget will include one or two prison closures.

At the Texas Insider, State Rep. Raul Torres says "Plans to close at least one state prison, possibly two, remain unclear, dependent on the final budget." The House budget proposed closing the Central Unit in Sugar Land, while the Senate budget lamentably eschewed prison closures. I wonder what the second prison closure refers to and how likely that might be? Both budgets suggest reducing the number of contracted beds, so my guess is he's talking about closing one of Texas' privately run prisons instead of spreading out the reductions over multiple facilities.

The real budget is being written in conference committee, and reportedly the criminal justice portions have been agreed upon, though there's no word yet on any details. The House budget would cut public safety and criminal justice spending (Article V) by 9.2%, while the Senate suggested just a 1.6% cut, so there's a lot of middle ground there.

Most of the cuts suggested in both chambers, regrettably, ignore prisons, where more than 80% of TDCJ's budget is spent, and concentrate on probation, parole, in-prison programming, and reentry programs. I continue to believe that much more could have been cut from prison budgets, closing 6-8 prison units or more if they'd expanded instead of slashed community supervision funding, while still reducing crime. Another missed opportunity.

MORE: From the Texas Tribune.


Hook Em Horns said...

Well, that's 1 more than I suspected would be closed. Originally, I had serious doubts even 1 prison would be closed but seeing how the Central Unit has commercial promise, I am hardly surprised!

The harsh reality of Texas is that we are a "prison state." Like it or not, it's fact. It's based on some of the worst criminal justice public policy in the United States. It has been bought and paid for by we the "sheeple" and our desire to appear "tough on crime" and to be "safe in our homes" has led us along by the nose from some of the biggest liars in the United States.

Anonymous said...

very little has been said about cuts in health care, or the fact that UTMB is cutting RN's and Dental Staff. Even Grits has not addressed this issue. New
policy needs to be addressed, we are still working under the original policy established years ago. I expect Federal intervention, ie, Ruiz.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

5:05, I've written a little about it, but you're right it's a big deal. The reason I haven't focused on it much is it's an area where both House and Senate budgeters agreed so there's been no controversy, but it's going to cause a big mess, for sure, and you're right, possibly even federal intervention.

Anonymous said...

How about cutting offenders cable t.v.? Also changing the policy that any time one of them mentions "I'm suicidal" they get shipped to crisis mgmt. This is a game many of them play when theyu get in trouble or want to be near their girlfriends. Most of the time there are no beds for them, so they have to be constantly watched by security "who don't have enough officers to begin with" so they put them all in one dayroom or such to be watched 24/7 by one officer, so therefore they are in that dayroom with their girlfriends, having a party, singing, dancing etc. all weekend long or until a bed is found for them somewhere and sometimes as soon as pysch staff comes back on duty Mon. they are cured. They had their party for the weekend. Policy sure needs to change on that, soooooooo much money is being spent on this game playing scenerio in transportation alone.

Anonymous said...

The prisoners know all the tricks, how to play the system. They all feel they are entitled, and will let you know that in a hurry.
When I started working in the jails I thought everyone would be locked up,but it is like a fairground in here. Security does not run the jail, the prisoners do.
Things need to change.

sunray's wench said...

Anon 8.07 (I don't know why I bother, but anyway) cable tv? Oh you mean the digital reception that everyone in the country has now because analogue has been switched off? How exactly would that save any money at all? TDCJ needs to find MILLIONS of dollars, not pocket money change.

And if you want to change the crisis management policy, what would you suggest it be changed to? If you're going to whine, at least throw some new ideas into the ring at the same time.

Hook Em Horns said...

8:07 you are so wise. Perhaps Perry will let you head up TDCJ with ideas like that! ~~rolls eyes~~

Grits, where do these idiots come from?

Anonymous said...

Idiots, Hook Em? Isn't that a little tame for your potty mouth?

Anonymous said...

Sunray's wench: No it's not digital antenna t.v, it's actually satelite basic cable t.v. with lots of sports channels. When analog went off they contracted to provide all units with cable. Why they couldn't have just bought a digital antenna as most of us did at home I don't know?
Suicide policy: Have crisis mgmt. cells (commode, sink, stainless bunk, suicide blanket, paper gown, and johnnies) on every unit so they are not shipped out. Most of these people are not actually suicidal they are playing games, usually the ones that are don't fake this stuff, they just hang themselves one day without saying anything to anyone. Or weed out the gameplayers and put them all on a unit which does have suicide cells. yes, I realize TDCJ needs millions not pennies but it all adds up, you would not believe how much it cost to transport these offenders, consider the 2 officers, the one officer watching them, the medical/pych staff that have to spend an hour or two trying to find a place for them, clearing them and all the paperwork involved medical and security. Then the unit of assignment has to go back and get them 24-72 hours later. Then the paperwork starts all over again.

Hook em Horn's: These idiots come from working at TDCJ personally! I see it everyday! Security protects you and the other citizens of Texas by keeping these offenders locked up. Medical provides medical care to the best of their ability as the policy will allow, they treat some of the most henious criminals and some of the lesser henious without regard to their crime, most of the time they don't know what their crime is, and it should stay that way if they are to treat them.

Gov. Perry should listen to some of us who work in the trenches. The ones who make the decisions have rarely been inside a prison. A walk thru once a year does not qualify as seeing what it's really like.
You can throw insults all you want, your not accomplishing anything by doing so except feeding your own ego. The is the USA and you are intitled to your own opinion and to speak it, so I'm not insulted.
If you've never worked there you have NO idea!

Hook Em Horns said...

5:51, as a member of the Texas Bar I have stepped inside many a TDCJ unit. Most recently the Price Daniel Unit up in Scurry County. Don't lecture me about keeping Texas safe. You might work in a unit with bad eggs but there are plenty of pole barns with non-violent felons who would be better off in some type of programming than housed on our dime.

I, personally, find it useful that not every perpetrator be treated the same. A crime, for example, of child molesting is not the same as catching fish out of season. We can split hairs all day long, you and I both know that turning off the TV is NOT a real solution and, in reality, could make some "monsters" more dangerous with nothing to do.

Anonymous said...

The prison employees know how to play the system also. TDCJ employees are some of the most abusive people on the planet. Your love one is lying to you. Your love one is faking. I have personally witness TDCJ employees lie and steal over the years. They do it because they can and no body cares about the human dignity of someone enslaved in the system. All the employees have to do today is look up the persons crime on the internet and go tell all the other prisoners. This is another cruel game the employees play. THE TRENCHES!! I am tired of hearing that one if they were not so abusivde to begin with this stuff would not be happening. I am glad to see the TDCJ employees on here but I have witness all the human rights abuses over the years with my on two eyes. CLOSE ALL THE PRISONS AND LAY THEM ALL OFF NOW!!! Reality in Texas is this state is the largest open air prison in the world.

Anonymous said...

Hook em: I agree totally that some of the non violent pole barn offenders should be released and monitored more in the community. I even know some offenders who committed murder 20 yrs ago who are model inmates and most likely would do well on the outside. 20 yrs is a long time and many mature in those 20 yrs and are not the same people.
Yes there are bad officers, bad medical staff, bad TDCJ rank, offic personal just like in any place. Problematic offenders and easy going offenders who are just trying to do their time and go home.
I also agree a child molester is not the same as a another type of criminal who steals, sells or uses dope. If we were to try to split hairs, we could argue for instance a murder, a crime of passion, a bar fight gone bad, drunk driving murder, a parent killing their childs molester,(also a crime of passion)is less likely to reoffend
and is a whole lot different than a cold blooded murderer who plots to kill for some type of gain or for the fun of it.
When you work there it's best not to know the crime if you want to remain objective, yes we get told without asking who the child molesters are a lot.
As the inmates say: "We're not all the same" the same applies to officers and other staff. Bad eggs or good eggs are everywhere.
I agree some of the elderly with non-violent offenses could be let go to save money. More community supervision to save money. We have the technology now days to keep better track of offenders now but it also cost money but not as much and keeping them locked up.

I don't have all the answers, never claimed to. Letting all the prisoners go and closing the prisons! Hah, there are people who should be locked up forever, so far there is no cure for serial killers and child predators!

oatmeal for breakfast said...

Closing some of the older archaic prisons which cost an enormous amt. to keep up is a good idea.
No private contracts open up tent cities as Az. does. Let out non violent's and put more community supervision in place. TDCJ would have empty beds if letting go the older and non-violent ones anyway.

Hook Em Horns said...

7:06 We are close in opinion than you may think. There are good and bad but my issue is a system that is too big and relies to heavily on incarceration to solve it's problems. I KNOW you have some bad eggs...we all do.

Your point about transportation is one that bothers me as well. Transporting these folks across the Lone Star is many times nothing but a waste of money. Bureaucracy begets bureaucracy.

6:29 I feel your pain on some of this but blanket suggestions about shuddering TDCJ are insane. I will suggest that we need a prison system heavier on programming and a bit less on warehousing most offenders. For the truly bad eggs, lets stop pretending we can 'help' and lock them away.

In reality, the problem with TDCJ is that it's too big and is the result of bad public policy. The staff that I have come across are professional and seem to care about their job, I am under no illusions that it could change when myself or other counsel or high profile visitor is not there.

Anonymous said...

Hook em: Thank you.
I'm not sure I agree on TDCJ being to big???? It seems all goverment is to big then??? i do agree there is to much bereoucracy! Texas want's to put them away but very few things in place to help them while in there or when the are released. Some can not be cured or helped. Some were born to crack addicted parents and raised on the streets like feral cats, they will tell you this themselves, so being in prison is not so bad for them.

But there are hope for some of them and things to help them the few that there are will be cut if not already. So are we housing them or rehabilitating them?

sunray's wench said...

Anon 5.51 ~ I stand corrected. I had read that units would be getting the equivalent of the Freeview service we have here.

As for the suicide management, that would require a building programme to construct more cells, yes? The buildings themselves are not designed to be used flexibly. It would also require extra training for TDCJ staff, away from containment and towards psychiatric management. I agree with you on your suggestions, but I'm not sure that current TDCJ officers would be willing or able to undergo such training even if TDCJ could fund it all.

The Homeless Cowboy said...



thefuture said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefuture said...

Well, the reality of the situation is, are we shuting down the central unit or another prison to come back in a couple of years and say that we dont have enough room ,and that we are building a new prison elsewhere. Isn't that the reason why we are contracting bed through private facilities? Because we dont have enough beds in our own texas prisons?

In reply to these smarts inmates: Yes! repeated offenders know the in's and outs to anything they want in the prison system. We wouldnt have to "cut the cable" if we weren't sending majority of the inmates to prison, when half of them belong in rehab or some other place, strictly teaching them how to surivive in society, forever not just for 6 months

Anonymous said...

Several months ago I posted about cutting out elective surgery's and the Moderator of this board doubted that UTMB was doing elective surgery's. Well now that UTMB is trying to get more money they have canceled approx 4000 clinic appointments this past week and have drastically reduced the operating schedule of all these so called needed medical procedures. The doctors are telling the offenders that TDCJ is out of money and they are not doing elective surgery's. Case Made? Managed Health care and UTMB Heads should be on a stick for all the abuse of the trust of the states money.