Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Governor's Criminal Justice Division seeks new home for specialty court data collection, oversight

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition sent out an email today describing new legislation that will be filed soon, according to Christopher Burnett of the Governor's Criminal Justice Division:
In 2012, Governor Perry created CJAC by executive order to examine aspects of Texas specialty courts (drug courts, veterans’ courts, family drug courts, etc.)  Over the last year, CJAC volunteers have spent countless hours looking at questions of evidence-based best practices, oversight, protection of participants’ rights, the role of court team members, and the need for solid data to measure specialty court efficacy.  During this legislative session, the results of CJAC’s work will be presented through a bill authored by Senator Joan Huffman.
The bill’s main purposes will be to consolidate the majority of existing specialty court statutes in one place, clarify the requirements that these courts report their existence to the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD), further define the role of court team members, develop outcome- and evidence-based best practices to serve as guidance for courts, and require the collection of minimal but standardized performance data.
Specialty courts only work when judges and other team members have the maximum flexibility to tailor their particular court to fit local needs and resources.  A cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all, governed-from-Austin model of how specialty courts should operate simply won’t work.  The original authors of the various specialty court statutes understood this and so do the members of CJAC.
Over the last ten years, the number of specialty courts in Texas grew from nine to around 140.  This rapid growth and the ability to gather meaningful data have been difficult to track.  Legislators, county judges, county commissioners, and all involved need to see if these courts continue to do what they were designed to do:  keep people from unnecessarily going deeper into the criminal justice system; restore broken lives; and free up scare space in county jails and state prisons for those truly requiring incarceration.  CJD believes the proposed bill will help accomplish those goals.
Burnett foresees that, "the next step in specialty court evolution as being the transfer of CJD’s limited oversight of and data collection responsibilities for these courts to another state agency. The where and when will be determined by the Texas Legislature," though offhand one imagines the Office of Court Administration seems like a logical spot. See the rest here.


Anonymous said...

Just what this state needs, another agency with criminal justice in the title.. Funny how CJD mentions they don't want cookie cutter governing from Austin, yet they want all of the courts to send all of their stats/information to them?

Just another hypocritical agency, similiar to the lard asses in charge at tcoommi.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"they want all of the courts to send all of their stats/information to them"

Sort of ... they want you to actually compile the stats, as the law requires.

Anonymous said...

Hey smartass who thinks he knows everything about the criminal justice system.

The stats have actually been compiled, for many years now and sent to tcoommi and cjad. Funny that you know everything about everything since you hang out at the capital a few times a month.. TCOOMMI sends the reports of the stats to the lbb. But i'm sure you already knew that.

Anonymous said...

You should actually WORK in the criminal justice system in TEXAS before you continue to copy and paste and tag on your worthless IMO..

round n round said...

So if courts in general don't practice evidence based sentencing, then those same jurisdictions can ask for more money to create a specialty court. And the basis for granting the request for specialty court $$ is because of high incarceration rates? Talk about a proverbial dog chasing its tail.
I'm sorry 2:39 but TACOOMMI doesn't know their ass from a hole in the ground. What buisiness do they have sending in any reports? Its a good day if TACOOMI just shows up for work.

Anonymous said...

round n round

Perhaps you should learn how to read an entire conversation before you actually start typing. Refer to my comment @1:55.
And also learn what an acronym is, there is no A in TCOOMMI.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

2:39, we're talking about different things. 1:55's reference, I thought, was to the Governor's CJD's demand that counties update their arrest and adjudication data or lose federal grant funds, which most of them only did when that mild but effective coercion was applied. Also, I may not know everything, but I do know that the Governor's Criminal Justice Division (CJD) - the subject of this post - and "CJAD" at TDCJ are different entities. Your comments appear to confuse them amidst your TCOOMMI obsession. Focus, amigo, focus!

Anonymous said...

There have been a bunch of national, and international studies, which have come out in the past few years showing drug court DO NOT WORK as they say. That most studies which suggest so, are improper in their controls and cost analysis. Studies include:

- The Brookings Institute
- The Drug Court Fraud (Yale/UPENN)
- The UK Justice Ministry
- The Scottish Justice Ministry
- The Drug Court Scandal (NC Law Review, Judge Morris Hoffman)
- Fordham Law
- Cambridge

etc. ect.

It is about time these things are put under proper scrutiny, and are forced to collect data in some uniform manner in which nationally recognized research institutions can conduct studies on them, not the local yocal community college that is best friends with the local drug court managers....

Gritsforbreakfast said...

6:25, I'm all for applying close, outcome-based scrutiny to specialty courts and redirecting funding from the ones that don't work. But I think the research on strong probation shows better outcomes than you portray. From what I've read and heard, the general consensus is that when more resources are applied, strong probation measures work pretty well, e.g., see this assessmet.

Now, different judges run them different ways, and you're right more research needs to be done to clarify what works and to steer specialty courts toward those methods. But I don't think the evidence supports your assertion that drug courts, mental health courts etc., should be abolished outright.