Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Major development: Business lobby backs criminal justice reforms

The Austin Statesman's Mike Ward points to a major development on the criminal justice reform front: The entry of the Texas Association of Business, a powerful lobby representing some of the state's largest employers, will be backing a reform agenda on criminal justice this session. Reported Ward ("Big-business lobby enters fray on criminal justice reforms," Jan. 15):
In a significant shift in lobbying clout, Texas’ most powerful business group has decided to make criminal-justice reforms a key focus of its priorities for legislative action, seeking ways to spend taxpayer money more efficiently and to improve the state’s economic future.

Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, said the group plans to push to expand successful rehabilitation and community-based corrections programs; to change Texas’ drug-sentencing laws to put more low-level offenders in local treatment programs and reduce penalties for small amounts of drugs; and to modify state licensing laws that keep some ex-convicts from ever becoming certified for various trades.

“We’re sending too many people to the slammer,” Hammond said. “The taxpayers and the business community are both being harmed.”

On Wednesday, the business group will meet to plan its strategy to persuade the Legislature to enact changes that Hammond said are designed to keep more low-level, nonviolent lawbreakers on probation and in treatment and rehabilitation programs in their communities, “rather than sending them all to Huntsville.”
This would have been unthinkable a decade ago and reflects the growing realization among fiscal hawks that Texas' corrections costs have grown at rates far in excess of other government spending. Here's TAB president Bill Hammond elaborating further on the group's new position:
“TAB supports criminal justice reforms from previous legislative sessions and ongoing efforts to improve public safety, reduce the rate of recidivism, and decrease prison costs,” the association states in its legislative wish-list this year. “Such reforms include, but are not limited to, finding cost-effective alternatives to incarceration through the implementation of enhanced probation programs.”

The bottom line, Hammond said, “is that the current system is ineffective. It doesn’t work.”

“We don’t pretend to be experts at criminal justice, but we’re for good public policy,” he said, noting that the association supports keeping Texas competitive in attracting new business in coming years. That should involve reforms to the current corrections system, he said.

In its legislative platform, the TAB notes that “while the daily cost of probation is $2.92 per person, only $1.40 of which comes from taxpayers’ dollars, it takes $50.79 per day for taxpayers to hold a single inmate in prison. That comes to a total of $18,000 per inmate, per year, with Texas currently housing over 150,000 prisoners.”
Congratulations to Hammond, TAB, and also the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which has been working hard to convince business leaders they have a dog in this fight. This is an exciting development. TAB brings every bit as much clout to the Lege as traditional opponents of reform like prosecutors and police unions. Though one hesitates to begin counting chickens, it's possible we'll look back in just a few years and see this as a important tuning point. Grits certainly hopes so.


Anonymous said...

What we seem unwilling to look at is this: what is going on in the neighborhoods that promotes crime in the first place.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Well, there's only so much the Legislature can do at the neighborhood level, but I don't think it's true people are "unwilling to look at" what's going on there. The main reason for altering methods is that the "tuff on crime" approaches haven't necessarily changed and in some cases may have worsened underlying dynamics in high-crime neighborhoods.

That may not be TAB's motivation, which appears to be more about bottom line finance, but they're relative latecomers to the party. I'm still quite glad they're taking to topic on.

Anonymous said...

I will be glad when this nonsense runs its course...although that will likely be 10 to 15 years down the road.

This approach is nothing new, it has only been repackaged with new catch phrases like evidenced based and data driven. It is the same organizations, foundations, and advocates that promoted the same philosphy in the early 70's.

In the late 60's and early 70's psychologists, psychiatrists, and advocates convinced legislatures that ciminals were sick and in need of treatment. Policies were implemented to reflect the new way of thinking....and they failed!! Crime sky rocketed throughtout the 80's into the early 90's. Mid 90's people had had enough. Get tough measures were implemented not only in Texas, but across the nation. Since then, crime has been dropping and is relatively low compared to what we saw in the 80's.

Now we have done a 180 and we are headed right back to where we came's unbelievable.

15 - 20 years from now, the pendelum will swing back to the get tough approach.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"It is the same organizations, foundations, and advocates that promoted the same philosphy in the early 70's."

Uh ... you mean like the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Public Policy Foundation? That's an interesting, if absurdly false, contention. No wonder you don't sign your name to it.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, thanks for handling the loaded statement meant to make everyone assume the solution to the problem could be found in the hood, if they’d just look at it. What a trip.

*I'm going to join the Texas Association of Business today. Who knows, I just might end up convincing them to sponsor the "Stop Cherry Picking for Justice" campaign & finally get Non-DNA related wrongful (illegal) conviction claims included in the post conviction vetting process.

Doing so, would immediately result in the ending of the historical and systematic ignoring of a subclass of claims simply due to being devoid of; DNA evidence, Death Row and / or due to being Closed / Inactive case(s). Followed by the mass clearing of names, followed by mass Full Pardon – for / based on innocence applications.

*Eventually, enabling thousands to; seek, train for & obtain gainful employment in TAB member based businesses & associates. A fellow can dream can’t he? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Is it always someone else who is responsibile for what goes on in the neighboehoods? What about the people who live there? Are people no longer responsible for what they do? Can they continue to promote disfunctional behavior and then find others to blame? Is that it--always blame others for what people themselves do?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

What are you talking about, 6:04? You're blabbering. What does any of what you're saying have to do with the price of tea in China or the Texas Association of Business supporting criminal justice reform?

Anonymous said...

There ya go..If you want to know what works in criminal justice, talk to Texas business men. They are more clueless regarding criminal justice issues than a member of Texas congress.

Why is it every time we look for soultions to a problem, we ignore the every day practitioners? I am sure Mark Levin told them that if we send fewer people to prison, there will be more people in the community that could buy there goods and services. Therefore, more money in their pockets.

This is nonsense and irrelevant. TPPF brings nothing new to the table. They have simply embraced liberal reform efforts.

Anonymous said...

"There's only so much the Legislature can do at the neighborhood level."

Well, who is responsible for the neighborhood? It couldn't be the people who actually live there.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You're the one who brought up "what is going on in the neighborhoods." You're either arguing against yourself or still just babbling.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, damn you went off and pointed it out and now the goof (ball) is back in his / her court. If puzzles could talk it'd sound sorta like that or it could be dragon naturally speaking needs new batteries.

Now, back to the GFB Post at hand, minus the gobbleygook. I recommend that everyone read it twice, due to the multiple pros & cons tied to it.

Pros I've noticed include;

Taxes -

Reduces / eliminates burden on taxpayers' by -

*mandatory treatment / rehab for first time non-violent offenders in crimes where there are no victims'

*forces criminal courts to vet any & all charges detectives phone in or present to the D.A's. INTAKE by requiring copies of any & all alleged warrants, including outstanding traffic warrants due to increased oversight

*reduces Plea-Bargain abuses of those on Probation at time of arrest on new unrelated charges

*affects the entire Law Community by forcing out the unqualified and forcing those that wish to practice Criminal Law to Defend clients' vs. enjoying the current Plea & Flee all the way to the bank by anyone with a degree.

*eventually would force those that call themselves CDLs to actually be Board Certified Criminal Defense Lawyers / Attorneys prior to any & all criminal consultations', referrals, and / or being appointed to Defend humans'.

*frees up prison beds for those that were found 'Guilty' by juries.

*increases Employment / Education opportunities. Remember the Jobs, Jobs, Jobs chant.

*reduces the current rate of harm that the results of un-vetted and vague but mandatory requirement of pre-employment criminal background checks' by insurance companies and employers.

*would eventually force the mandatory removal of any & all; bad, erroneous & bogus criminal records due to duplicate listings, identity theft, & not being associated with applicant(s)

*no more 90% (give or take) Texas TapOut rate.

*fake CDLs are forced to return back to what they know - Divorce / Estate Law

*probation officers mandatorily required to be present during any & all hearings, jury trial(s) and / or plea changes from Not Guilty to Nolo Contendere regarding any & all case(s).

*probation officers mandatorily required to consult with defendant(s) in private, assuring them that they do not have to stop a jury trial and plea bargain simply due to being on probation at time of arrest on new unrelated alleged charges. Dispelling the myth spread by the Plea & Flee mofos that – all probation is automatically revoked at time of arrest.

*others may add their own pros & cons.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, if the TAB initiative proves to be a positive one, we should anticipate that Texas will need more probation officers.

Which is why I'm calling on Texans' to heed the call to join the TAB endeavor by enlisting as Probation Assistants’. P.As'. can be either volunteer or part time employees that assist P.Os'. as they are mentored for possible full time employment. ARRP, college students', law students, law enforcement cadets, former military personnel and the exoneree click is a great starting point. Thanks.

Ryan William said...

The poor are more likely than the wealthy to be arrested for any category of crime, why? The term justice means that there should be the rule to punish the person who involved in the crime whether he/she is poor or wealthy. So in any country there should be the proper rule for the criminal justice and no any kind of relaxation for the criminals.