Wednesday, October 01, 2014

'Meet the Smart on Crime Coalition," and other stories

Here are several items that haven't made it into individual posts but which merit Grits readers' attention:

Meet the 'Smart on Crime Coalition'
Check out the website of the new "Texas Smart on Crime Coalition" which includes the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, ACLU of Texas, and Goodwill.

'Codifying the Rule of Lenity'
The Texas Public Policy Foundation has a new report out with the same title as this subhed. TPPF's Marc Levin recently authored a column arguing that the rule of lenity should apply in Gov. Rick Perry's recent indictment and suggesting the Legislature should bolster it via statute.

Morton, Scheck interviewed
Check out an interview with Michael Morton and Barry Scheck filmed at the LBJ School earlier this week. The two men also attended a press conference today at the capitol with state Sen. Rodney Ellis calling for expanded access to DNA cases, an issue I thought had been resolved in 2011 but which the Court of Criminal Appeals has revived with a ruling earlier this year denying testing in a capital case.

Houston crime lab gets new director
The troubled Houston crime lab, which recently became independent from the police department, has a new lab director named Daniel Garner and recently secured NIH grant funding for its DNA lab.

'Myths and Facts of Pretrial Justice'
See a video lecture from the University of Houston titled, "The Myths and Facts of Pretrial Justice"

Former SCOTX Chief Justice takes on indigent court costs
Bully for former Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson for taking on the issue of waiving court costs for the indigent in family law cases in a Tarrant County lawsuit. IMO Jefferson  was arguably the best appointment Rick Perry made over the last decade.

The Trial Penalty
The general counsel for Families Against Mandatory Minimums had a column in Forbes last week titled, "Wanting a trial by jury is not a crime so why do we treat it like one?"

Adios, American Judicature Society
Sorry to hear the American Judicature Society is closing its doors, though I understand the reasons. They had a good run.


Anonymous said...

Why are you ignoring this story?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I've taken note of it, I just have nothing to add offhand. It is what it is; I haven't discussed the recent allegations against Craig Watkins by his former division chief, either, for the same reason.

To be clear: I write this blog for my purposes, not the general public's edification.

What do you think needs to be said about the episode that hasn't been? Enlighten us.

Jeff said...

Can't help but wonder if this coalition is merely another bunch of industries trying to sanction their business interests through ridiculous regulatory schemes designed to disqualify competitors from participation.

Anonymous said...

smart on crime coalition... how about the get high on my own gas coalition. Can someone name something actually name something initiated by smart on crime that has come to full fruition?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ 7:00, three of those groups were principal advocates behind the 2007 probation reforms, the move to close three prison units, etc.. Since this particular coalition just started, no they haven't initiated anything that's passed - 2015 will be the first session it existed.

@ Jeff, in this case I think the business participation is about expanding the low-end labor pool and stopping disqualification of people who would and could work if allowed, as well as reining in one of the fastest growing sectors of the state budget.

Anonymous said...

@7:13 Which side of the isle will they be standing on when TDCJ, despite huge pay increases to executive staff, will be asking for an even larger budget.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Too simplistic a question, 7:39. Larger budget for what?

If the Lege reduced the number of prisoners and close several units it would save money. But, for example, if the state also boosted guard salaries and paid the full freight for healthcare costs, maybe the "savings" evaporates in the short term but the agency would save long-term from reduced staff turnover, preventive vs. chronic care, etc., and end up on more stable footing.

The same goes if they expanded probation funding; if it diverts from prison the short-term expense can generate long-term savings. An example of that would be how the 2007 reforms (and higher parole rates) staved off prison pop growth in Texas, which was estimated to be about 16,000 prisoners higher than it turned out with the new programming. It cost money but not remotely as much as building new prisons.

Or, e.g., if sometime before the budget passes the federal courts require TDCJ to put AC in the prisons. That's completely outside the state's control (and another argument for reducing the prison population if you don't want to pay for it).

Bottom line: There is no "side" vis a vis an objectively correct level for TDCJ's budget; there are management issues involving tradeoffs and risks, short-term vs. long-term goals, etc.. I've not been to any coalition meetings, but my sense is they want better "smarter" decisions on criminal justice, not just more (or less) money for TDCJ.

Anonymous said...

Stop funding these failed programs.

Stop funding the half-way houses and all the fraud they commit against the tax payers. The employees at the half-way house threaten the residents there every day and think they are prison guards, aka, Volunteers of America and Dallas Salvation Army Gateway program. The follow up care First Step Counseling in Addison, Texas is committing fraud against the tax-payers with their phoney program also, no rehabilitation, nothing but threats to send you back to prison. STOP FUNDING THESE FAILED PROGRAMS WITH TAX-PAYERS DOLLARS. First Step Counseling needs their contract investigated for fraud right now, along with Volunteers of America (Riverside) Stop sending people there now and stop wasting tax-payers dollars. Parole must be getting kickbacks on these failed programs to defend them so. They are now making parolees travel two to three countries to the Addison, Texas program. Why? Must be something illegal going on like bribes and kickbacks to parole officers! STOP THE FRAUD, WASTE AND ABUSE OF TAX-PAYERS DOLLARS NOW!! THESE PROGRAMS ARE FAILURES!! ASK THE WOMEN AT THE HENLEY UNIT THAT HAVE BEEN IN THE PROGRAM 3 AND 7 TIMES!!

Anonymous said...

The biggest fraud program is that Gateway Program!! Then the Gate way Half-way House in Dallas and Fort Worth. They are nothing more than self-licking ice cream cones! The tax-payers have to constantly put more scoops of ice cream on. The aftercare run by Parole is another big fraud waste. Gateway and Volunteers of America are criminal with the way they spend tax payer’s money and especially considering they provide no services at all. That program consists of people sitting around doing nothing and when they do, do something it is to tell them how awful they are. Nothing is done to prepare them for the outside world. The people running these programs are not smart enough to get them a real job much less assist someone else fined one. The half-way house employees think they are running prison and that is where they should go and work. They threaten the offenders every day with going back to prison, so much for rehabilitation. Parole here in North Texas has done everything to make a parolee lose a job they can do. You have to quit a job to go to all those wasted, fraud against tax-payers meetings or you cause their family members to lose their jobs trying to take them two counties away to these meetings. Parole officers will say get a job but then watch you lose your job to make an aftercare meeting. I see now why no one will hire anyone on parole or probation. The only thing I have seen a parole officer do is threaten to send people back to prison for not making these after care meetings. No help with employment and god forbid if a parolee gets a job they want keep it for all the meetings. This is where millions of dollars are wasted by TDCJ. One can only wonder to the huge amount of bribes and kickbacks these contractors with these substance abusers contracts are giving the Higher ups in the Texas Legislature, TDCJ, and the Parole Board members who are hell bent on you attending these after care programs but are not concern about you keeping a job to pay your fees. OH, they just put you back in the revolving door back to prison. Dallas, Fort Worth, Collin, and Denton counties are the worst with handling these contracts. You will go back to prison if you are in after care in one of these counties or your family will be bankrupt trying to get you there. Parole is one cruel joke from the top to the bottom and I see why do many of them in up in prison too. That SAFP and IPTC is such a taxpayer waste and fraud, watching a family member go through this program has bankrupt me. You cannot believe the amount of fraud associated with this FAILED PROGRAM! Everyone turns a blind eye to this too. If only the tax-payers knew the truth to what goes on behind closed doors in these half-way houses, and after care programs and the criminals that run them and defraud the taxpayers. It starts with the Parole Board and ends with the local Parole Officer who cannot seem to even answer the phone without someone holding their hands and giving them permission. IF ONLY THE TAX-PAYERS KNEW THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS FRAUD AGAINST THEM AND THESE FAILED PROGRAMS

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