Tuesday, February 12, 2013

McLennan DA blasted for boosting jail crowding costs

The Waco Tribune Herald had an item last week ("DA Reyna comes under fire from attorneys on jail crowding," Feb. 6) on how tuff-on-crime plea bargaining policies by the McLennan County DA has filled up the jail, threatening to bust the county's budget. The story opened:
McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna is adding to the county’s jail overcrowding problem through policy changes and stiff plea bargain offers that make it hard to settle cases quickly, local defense attorneys said Tuesday.

Reyna, a Republican elected in 2010 promising to be tough on crime, responded by calling many of the complaints “laughable” and “patently false.”

The fight unfolded in front of the commissioners court after Commissioner Kelly Snell invited defense attorneys to air their frustrations with the criminal justice process. Some county officials, including County Judge Scott Felton, have said Reyna’s tough-on-crime policies have contributed to a rise in the jail population and the associated costs of feeding and housing inmates.

Those policies prevent cases from being resolved quickly, increasing the time defendants stay in jail awaiting trial, several defense attorneys said Tuesday.

Examples include refusing to let defense attorneys see case files prior to an indictment, offering tough initial plea deals that most defendants reject, and requiring pretrial “announcement” hearings that often are unproductive, the attorneys said.
Even a supporter of Reyna's on the commissioners courts worried that "we have a problem with the jail (costs) that’s going to make us or break us." That's not only a theoretical concern: "Based on current trends, the cost of housing overflow inmates outside the McLennan County Jail may reach $5.6 million in the current fiscal year — $2.6 million more than budgeted — which could exhaust contingency funds or require cuts in other areas, county officials have said." Before the new DA took office, local jail populations were declining.

DA Reyna may poo poo his own role in jail crowding and related tax hikes, but policy changes at his office are the only identifiable reason that explains what's going on. A dismissive attitude is not sufficient to counter data-driven criticism that his tuff-on-crime posturing is increasingly getting tougher on McLennan County taxpayers.



Anonymous said...

Stupid taxpayers & goofy voters, when will they ever learn that tuff on crime equals to nothing more than a license to arrest at will & plea bargain 'em all. Resulting in increased taxation, increased incarceration & at some point the camel's back just explodes spewing criminals and non criminals onto the streets vying for jobs / jhobs alongside the trespassers’ turned guests of the state (Not on probation or parole) in a background check world. Can you say forced recidivism?

All they'll do is talk about it and plea bargain with the public to accept excuses, then forget about it and then file for bankruptcy and the stupid taxpayers will pick up the TAB and vote R again, because it's cool. Rinse & Repeat. We (the rest of Texas) are laughing at you Waco, like always.

Anonymous said...

Blame the DA. The criminals are innocent.

Anonymous said...

Yo dip shit, for the record - no one has ever said that "the criminals are innocent" except for you & constantly from the shadows as you hide behind a $3. keyboard. Yanking chains is probably on your resume as a hobby. Get a life you old crusty fart.

And hell yes blame the DA, the ADA and the Judges right along with the stupid-ass people mentioned above your spit & run.

Confused said...

Yes, I have a son there....on a incident labeled"robbery" dropped down from "aggravated assault" 1st time offender for guilty plea. Two other teens involved with long history of crime knew it was to their advantage to take trial and are not in jail now.

The rookie attorney representing the rookie offender had him plea bargain for 5-yr probation w/guilty plea....which essentially got him a long-term sentence (up to 15) 1 year later for "a real offense"....

Needless to say, he is very confused about the law....and the law-abiding.

Anonymous said...

Here's the follow-up. Several felony cases dismissed, despite confessions, because the DA didn't get what they wanted.


-Sleepless in SanAntonio