Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Endorsing an Over-Incarcerator, History Unfolding, Ain't Nothing but a Plea Mill, and other stories

A few odds and ends to clear Grits' browser tabs

Endorsing an Over-Incarcerator
The Dallas News last week endorsed a Collin County Justice of the Peace for a Texas House seat who, according to an investigation by Buzzfeed, is among the most prolific jailers of juveniles in the state. His opponent is a Greg Abbott appointee to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department board, so debates in this race should be about his penchant for over-incarceration of juveniles, but you wouldn't know it from the DMN editorial. From reading it, I'd bet they hadn't even seen the Buzzfeed coverage. Google is your friend, people!

What's the point of MSM endorsements in GOP primaries?
On a related note, I wonder:  Do mainstream media folk understand that, when they endorse someone in a Republican primary, they're actually harming that person's chances because conservatives distrust the media so thoroughly? That was already true by the time I left the political consulting profession after the '04 cycle (we had polling to prove it), and it's surely become only more so in the current political environment. So if issuing an endorsement HARMS the chances of the person you want to win - in some cases even giving their opponent a winning issue to run on ("stick it to the media, who you hate") - then what is the point, exactly?

Two local rulings with (blurry) statewide implications
When thinking about the 5th Circuit's ruling in the Harris County bail litigation and the settlement in the TDCJ heat litigation, it strikes me there's a notable similarity. The bail litigation affects only one county; the heat litigation affects only one prison unit. And the rulings apply only to those jurisdictions. Yet, identical situations exist everywhere around the state. Harris County's bail policies aren't unique, and there are many thousands of inmates in the "heat sensitive" categories which will receive relief at the Wallace Pack Unit now. But that doesn't automatically mean other counties/units will follow suit and the mechanism for how the principles underlying these rulings might end up applying statewide is blurry and unclear, barring repetitive, individualized litigation to apply the same process everywhere that's similarly situated. I fear litigants on both issues may not have sufficient resources for that, given 254 counties, 100+ adult prison units, etc.. Meanwhile, the Legislature last year proved unable to address bail reform meaningfully, and it's hard to imagine them paying to air condition units unless a judge makes them. So these policies could eventually be imposed statewide, but it hasn't happened yet, it's not inevitable, and right now it's hard for this writer to even see the path on either of them.

Tarrant pretrial jailing policies were for decades a weird outlier
For three decades, municipal police agencies in Tarrant County held arrestees in their own city jails prior to charges being accepted by the Tarrant County DA, at which time they were transferred to a county facility. Back in the 1980s, the county tried to charge municipalities for housing their prisoners and Fort Worth responded by moving their prisoners elsewhere. But the new Sheriff says he's not authorized under law to charge cities a fee. To the extent that's true, it means cities in Tarrant County have been paying tens of millions of dollars for jailing these defendants totally unnecessarily. Plus it costs more to do it piecemeal because it fails to take advantage of an urban county jail's economies of scale. Tarrant is the only county in the state where arrestees weren't taken directly to the county jail, reported the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The cities should not have been paying to house those prisoners all those years, if I were them I'd be PO'd.

Ain't nothing but a plea mill
This Austin Chronicle depiction of the "jail reduction docket" in Travis County brought back memories, and a measure of appreciation for the attorneys threatening to challenge it in federal court. I recall sitting in Travis County courtrooms as an opposition researcher more than 20 years ago at what was then called the "rocket docket" and watching the same thing: Clients file into the courtroom, meet their lawyer for the first time, converse briefly with their attorney kneeling beside them, then pleading out their case almost immediately. You can see the same thing in Houston any day the courts are open. It's a breathtaking rendition of assembly-line justice that's still going on. Ain't nothing but a plea mill, baby.

History, unfolding
The Houston Museum of African American Culture has installed a Sandra Bland exhibit. Fitting. Will have to stop in and see it next time I'm in H-Town.

Grits found himself the other day in the offices of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, and thought this was a pretty cool piece of logo-bling:


Gadfly said...

Interesting point on the MSM and endorsements. The Snooze, of course, thinks it really has power.

Anonymous said...

LOL...DMN gonna get their liberal card yanked if they're not careful!

Anonymous said...

There's nothing conservative about locking up kids for nonviolent offenses. Wastes taxpayers money and usurps the parents role.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the plea make it sound like the criminal justice system is the only one to blame. They may carry a portion of the blame, but bad defense lawyers make up another part of the blame. Even when they have time to meet with their clients they don't. Many defense lawyers have the idea of "do as little as I can and take the money and run baby!" It takes two to tango!

Larry Coffin said...

It is not just the mainstream media that is to blame. It is all the semi-quasi- intellectual Trump haters who are widely to blame. To wit: From recent letters in the DMN, one person stated the "facts" that "...there is a reason" Trump did or did not do this or that. The moron listed several points of the "facts" but never said what those reasons are; he just "knew it".
The very day the DJI busted 25,000, one lady stated the "fact" that the stock market was tanking, crashing, because the S & P was down several points.
I do not not have enough room here to list all of the letters and opinions (and we all know what opinions are like and everybody has one), but you get the point. The haters are are prolifera ting and perpetuating their hate and attempting to convince other to hate.
As far as "Morning Joe" on MSNBC is concerned, I wonder what he is spiking his cup of morning Joe with. Having worked in a field which, in general terms, involved the areas of abnormal psych, I can almost say that the hate has become pathological. And now this thing is unraveling on them, but it will not stop nor change anytime in the near future. That scares the s... out of me. In short, and in layman's terms, this country seems to be goin' plum nuts with no end in sight.
They blame Trump for causing divisiveness and hate, but no one can MAKE us feel a certain way unless we give them the power (allow) them make us feel that way.One thing I feel may be certain is that if Trump fails, the country may very well fail; we all fail as a society.
That's my opinion, and yeah, I know, everybody has one.

betsy said...

Larry, wanna give us some references for the DMN letters you speak of? Otherwise, it just seems like your ranting.

Larry Coffin said...

For your information I DO NOT RANT! No, I did not keep copies of the letters,to the editor, so cannot give you dates. But I did plainly, unless there is a comprehension problem, state the exact summarized content if one letter. Another person stated the "fact" that "There is a reason" Trump did or did not do this or that, stating "There is a reason" numerous times but never said what those reasons were. It is apparent from your reply that you are one of the many who do not bother to fact-check. You can easily go online to DMN and find them. They are there. I always state fact and always quote, and also find out for myself what the facts are. When I see, or hear "anonymous source", or as in one news article "were informed by a person who was told the the contents of the probe", I stop reading. Simple as that. How many of you actually took the time, as,I did, to go to the DOJ site and print out and read in full both the Democratic and Republican memos to see FOR MYSELF exactly what was stated. CNN and MSNBC are still trying to weave coulusion into the memos and making, as far as,I can tell, unfounded allegations. I think for myself and believe nothing I read or hear on TV, newspaper, and social media until I have looked into it personally. But I still am careful about drawing conclusions until ALL the evidence and facts and proof are finalized. That's a hell of a lot more than I can say for most people.Just look at what came out in the indictment: by means of social media it is alleged that the Russian interferred by inciting the Not My President marches. No, I am not particularly fond of Donald Trump and I do not approve of some of his actions. But I do not hate him or anyone else, and it seems that many hate Trump just because he is Donald Trump. What about all this mess coming out about the Clinton's. Never hear anything about it. Are those things true? Don't know. I am not a fly on the wall around the Clinton's or the Oval Office, so all any of us can do is wait and see what happens. Until then, all these useless hate letters, social media posts, news articles are accomplishing nothing. People claim that Trump is causing divisiness, but look at it this way: can anyone "cause" you do do something, can someone make you angry. No. Not unless you give them the power to make you angry, or to be divisive, or to hate. I personally do not give anyone that kind of power over me. Enough said.

john said...

Aren't the juveniles mostly real poor? Then, No one in power cares.

Courts rely on We The Poor People to run out their resources, so they cannot fight back. H. Co. has hundreds of miles and 3? satellite courts. Everyone else must drive downtown through heavy traffic, and get tickets, and pay to park. And during the storm, judges didn't go in, so anyone i jail was stuck. And plenty folks are jailed unconstitutionally without ever seeing a magistrate, etc. Courts might not start on time, but if you're a moment late from traffic, you're tossed. Laws are only when expedient for the courts. Could they be career-criminal traitors? Could they be the filthy-rich? THEY RELY ON IT.

Not only a Houston plea mill, but while the City Charter says there WILL be court recorders, try and find one. Did they fix that, yet? The night courts used to NEVER have any. Waddaboud those non-sitting former/visiting/not judges without Oaths on file sitting in to rule on your case?
How is Houston SO ROGUE? Well, they kick back a bucket worth to Austin, sure. Maybe that's old news, but most folks will never know. THEY RELY ON IT.