Rebellion of the Clerks: A self-interested revolt
There's only one real reason that clerks don't want a statewide database of court records, and it has nothing to do with quality control. They currently charge a dollar a page for records and don't want to lose the revenue. Their argument is the same as newspapers complaining about online competition from Craig's List for their classified ads. And yet, these are the most public of public records. And there's significant public demand for them. There's really no good reason not to make them available online, and the legislators lining up to stop the rollout of the new system are doing their constituents a real disservice, placing the interests of local elected officials over the public interest. Grits doesn't do oppo work for campaigns anymore, but there's easily an attack ad to be had aimed at anybody who supported a bill aimed at keeping public records from the public via unjustifiably high fees.
More critics denounce forfeiture fail
Momentum for reining in asset forfeiture continues to grow, with prosecutors going on the defensive. Go to the Just Liberty site to send a message to lawmakers supporting reform.
Union bashing bill leaves out law enforcement
Critics at a State Affairs hearing raised the same criticism Grits did about legislation by Chair Joan Huffman to eliminate union-dues checkoffs for public employees - why leave out law enforcement, which are the most powerful public employee unions in the state? The bill was voted out on a 6-2 vote with the disparate treatment intact.
TDCJ chief exec interviewed
See an interview with new TDCJ chief mugwump Brian Collier from the Huntsville Item.
Raise the Age!
Three different newspaper editorials this week backed so-called raise-the-age legislation:
- SA Express News: Adult prison is not for 17-year olds
- Star-Telegram: Criminal Justice Needs Age Adjustment
- Austin Statesman: Legislature should reform age of responsibility in Texas
If you've got the money, honey ...
As I write this, there are folks scouring the budget to find money to eliminate the Driver Responsibility surcharge. For their benefit, here's a presentation from the Legislative Budget Board last year with a great deal of seldom-discussed detail about the program. (Send an email to your legislators asking them to abolish the surcharge.)
Shackled to Debt
New report via Harvard's Kennedy School and the NIJ: "Shackled to Debt: Criminal-justice Financial Obligations and the Barriers to Re-Entry They Create."