Friday, October 07, 2011

Federal judge: In prison or out, due process required for parole board to assign "Condition X"

Regular readers are aware of the controversy surrounding the Board of Pardons and Paroles assigning sex-offender conditions to parolees who've never been convicted of a sex crime.

The latest federal court ruling (pdf) on the subject, a preliminary injunction issued today barring assignment of "Condition X" to parolee Buddy Yeary, not only continues to maintain that the BPP can't apply sex-offender conditions without due process, it informs us that a new BPP policy to assign those conditions before parole, described here, will similarly fail to pass constitutional muster, though that issue wasn't squarely before the court.

Wrote Judge Lee Yeakel, "There can be no doubt that the law is well-settled in this regard: The imposition of sex-offender conditions on a defendant who has not been convicted of a sex offense - whether a prisoner or a parolee - without first providing the defendant with certain due-process protections is unconstitutional."

As reported in this Grits post, in the wake of prior court rulings that they couldn't assign "Condition X" without holding a hearing giving the parolee an opportunity to contest it, the parole board implemented a new policy (pdf) aiming to apply "Condition X" prior to release instead of after the prisoner has been paroled.

Judge Yeakel's latest ruling, though, says a hearing is required whether the offender is "a prisoner or a parolee." I don't know how long the Board of Pardons and Paroles will continue to flout these federal rulings, but at some point one of these case will get to the court in a procedural posture that lets the judge order hearings across the board instead of only for this or that individual defendant. As Yeakel said, the law is clear; what's unclear is why the BPP won't acquiesce and begin to follow it now that it's been clearly, repeatedly explained to them.

See related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

They actually did the crime, right. They just were allowed, in an overwhelmed court, to plead to a lessor offense.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If and when that's the case, 7:23, all the parole board has to do is hold a hearing and demonstrate what you say is true and they can apply the extra conditions.

In the meantime, anonymous blog commenters can make sweeping generalizations applying to thousands of people with no proof, but the criminal justice system requires a bit more due process than that, or it should.

sunray's wench said...

It never ceases to amaze me how gullible and blinkered some people are, just like our friend Anon above.

What the BPP is doing in many cases is re-sentencing offenders to a further period of supervision AFTER their original sentence has been discharged. They are looking at previous offenses and deciding that the punishment the court gave at the time is not enough to satisfy whatever personal agendas are at work on the BPP, and they are imposing a second sentence.

How long will it be before they start imposing similar punitive measures on other groups of offenders such as those with a DUI in their past, or some other crime the BPP decide was not dealt with harshly enough by the judicial process in place at the poitn of sentencing?

They need to be forced to accept that this is way beyond their remit.

Anonymous said...

The link to the court ruling doesn't work for me.

Anonymous said...

Is this related to CODIS database hits that link an offender to another sexual assault offense based upon DNA profiles?

I've always had an issue with that use of CODIS hits because typically when that database hit information is used in parole hearings, it is used without the normal sort of confirmatory testing that is normally required by courts.

The normal process is:

1) a DNA profile (typically semen in a SA case) is uploaded to the database
2) a hit occurs to a convicted offender profile in the database
3) a sample from the offender is then obtained by court order
4) the offender sample is processed by the lab that worked the semen sample to confirm/not confirm the database hit.

When the case is beyond the statute of limitations, and the CODIS hit is used to deny parole, typically only steps 1 & 2 are performed, and there is no attempt to confirm the database match.

I've talked to the FBI about this, because their publicly-stated position on the CODIS database system is that it is an investigative tool and that matches need to be confirmed by reanalysis. So you would think that they would object to this. What they said to me was that states can use the database in this way if they wish.

DEWEY said...

Since when has the BPP paid attention to court rulings, anyway?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Huh, I uploaded it onto Google Docs, 8:18, and it works for me. Email me if you want and I'll send it to you.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:37, to my knowledge I do not think this is related to CODIS hits. That may be the case on some of the 7,000 or so cases, but I haven't seen that in any of the opinions from the ones litigated so far.

rodsmith said...

personaly and probably legally i think this continual refusal to follow a legal court order rises to the level of a continual criminal enterprise and conspiracy on the part of the parole board officials! Which in my book makes them CRIMINALS in the process of a CRIMINAL ACT! Which means anyone can conduct a CITIZENS arrest and if they get hurt or killed in the process...ahh well

Connie said...

As far as I can tell it sounds like the parole board is playing god again and saying that the court rulings don't mean a thing to them. It also tells me that they are showing thier money hungry ways again. If they would spend thier budget the way it was meant to be spent then they would not have to try to keep inmates in prison longer than senetanced or trying to keep these guys on parole longer and collecting more money form them. The money needs to go into the system instead of the pockets of the officals. If it were up to the parole board all of these guys would be sex-offenders no matter what the original crime was.

RSO wife said...

Maybe Anonymous should read up on Condition X. My husband is one of those "lucky people" who had Condition X applied after his parole was granted. His only crime was accessing an internet site while on the job. For that he was fired and given 3 years in jail, was parolled after 18 months and Condition X appllied. He cannot live at home - too close to a school,so we maintain 2 residences. He cannot participate in our own company business - means leaving the county. He cannot ride or drive within 500 ft of anything considered a "child safety zone", - means finding routes around schools, day care centers, libraries, playgrounds, etc, to get where he needs to go.

Condition X has become a one size fits all and the BPP tacks it on where it wants to without regard to the crime. Makes you wonder where they got the power to do that while disregarding rational thinking even from federal judges.

pontifex2 said...

I would be very interested to have someone, anyone, answer these two questions: (a) How in the hell can a group of 'APPOINTEES' (BPP) get away with not complying with a federal Judge's court order/ruling? (b) Who is protecting these people? Someone please answer me this! Because if I were a federal Judge and you bucked me you would wake up the next day to Federal Marshalls with arrest warrants at your door. I would not let you embarrass me because the next guy will do it too then my reputation on the bench is shot to hell---am I making sense? So I would make an example out of the BPP, Rizze Owens would go straight to jail.

Anonymous said...

While Ms. Owens is the captain of this fiasco involving due process hearings; it is more directly the fault of the general counsel's of both the BPP and TDCJ. As soon as Coleman was rendered, a compliant form of hearings should have been put into place IMMEDIATELY! The failure of both entity's to do so shows not only a lack of leadership, but also negligence on the part of the "attorneys" advising both the Board and TDCJ.
If heads need to start rolling, start with those who are getting paid to offer competent legal advice.

A Texas PO said...

Could something more devious be afoot? Could this be another Rick Perry-led (from the shadows, of course) assault on federal government authority? You know, the "git gubmint outta arr lives" mentality that Texas seems to have... unless it's beneficial to the prisons.