Saturday, June 30, 2018

Harris bail ruling released, the problem with prisoner copays, and other stories

With journalists being shot, toddlers being snatched from their mothers' arms and required to fend for themselves in court, and a Supreme Court seat in play that will be filled by the Toddler-Snatcher-In-Chief, it's hard even for your myopic correspondent to focus attention on the Texas state and local criminal-justice issues that this blog primarily covers.

But lots of smart people much closer to the action are thinking and talking about those topics. So, taking my cue from the folks at the Capital Gazette who put out their paper the day after five colleagues were murdered, Grits will focus on my own job and give y'all the usual weekend roundup of criminal-justice topics, even if a big part of me would prefer to rant about those national stories.

Harris County bail ruling released
Yesterday, federal District Judge Lee Rosenthal released her revised ruling in the Harris County bail case, the Houston Chronicle reported. I can't find a copy online yet, but this is an important moment: Now, every county in Texas is on notice that they must give individualized bail hearings and can't simply rely on a bail schedule to decide whom to release. Most counties in the state use some version of the same system, so look for county-by-county chaos resulting in either a new legislative framework created for pretrial release in 2019, or else much more litigation as policies are changed through the federal courts county by county. Harris County has spent nearly $7 million in attorneys fees defending their unconstitutional system.

Reyna fires ADA for cooperating with FBI
In McLennan County, outgoing District Atttorney Abel Reyna fired one of his ADAs for allegedly sharing information with FBI investigators. Apparently in Waco, as at the White House these days, FBI investigators are now considered the enemy. We live in a weird historical moment, people, this is not normal.

DPS conflating traffic tickets and immigration enforcement
Texas DPS for the past two years has been sharing traffic ticket data with immigration authorities "to make it easier for federal authorities to deport those they suspect of being in the country illegally," reported the Houston Chronicle recently.

The problem with prisoner copays
Vice News has a story taking on the problem of requiring copayments from indigent Texas prisoners to receive medical services.

Deaths spur federal litigation vs. Galveston jail
The Galveston County Jail faces new federal litigation alleging that several recent inmate deaths resulted from sub-par medical care.

Commissary theft
A former Milam County Sheriff's Office captain has been convicted of stealing from the inmate commissary fund. She received probation, must pay $41,000 in restitution, and another $20K in fines and associated costs.

Picture this
Here's a nice story on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Bert Richardson's semi-pro photography hobby.

Asset forfeiture poster child
This story out of Indiana is a competitor for the all-time asset forfeiture poster child: A guy sells drugs for $225 and the state takes his Land Rover.

From the academy
Here are several interesting looking academic articles for Grits' reading pile which may also interest readers:


Anonymous said...

You're going to focus on Texas criminal justice issues and then you cite a forfeiture case out of.....Indiana? LOL Perhaps it's too much to note that Texas recognizes a proportionality defense in civil forfeiture proceedings.

Anonymous said...

You have no clue as to the reality of how a civil forfitufor case goes anonymous. Been there done that. Get a clue.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@7:50, if you don't like the material presented to you, you're welcome to a full refund. Texas has plenty of examples of asset forfeiture abuses (see Tenaha), but the Indiana case was especially poignant. In both states, the problem is letting LEOs take property without requiring a criminal conviction, in some cases despite an illegal search.

Anonymous said...

Commissary theft
A former Milam County Sheriff's Office captain has been convicted of stealing from the inmate commissary fund. She received probation, must pay $41,000 in restitution, and another $20K in fines and associated costs.

Yet the communications and visit marry go round where the government and a contractors jack fees to stay in contact with family to what I see as exorbitant levels. My extended family is foster to adopt and these cost come out of our pocket and other families similarly situated. I'm retired and at one time designed similar communications systems (the cost of metering exceeds the cost of ROI of metering) and I am well qualified to recognize when the fix is in and to see the real world damage done to kids and those trying to maintain a communications link in families. Need I mention the State pays a dear price to mental health professionals to try to address the problems generated.

Anonymous said...

TO: 8:09pm

Commissary... Ramen noodles that cost .25 cents are sold for as much as $3.00 to $4.00 dollars to inmates. Video conference visit with inmates cost families up to $25.00 for 5 minutes. No cost regulations and no accountability on how the profits are used. And yet jails are constantly lamenting how they are underfunded. When there is an outcry regarding the jail/prison industry abuses the general response tends to be "they don't have to buy it." Oh and good luck trying to get any valid information via public information request regarding commissary.

Anonymous said...

That addict in Indiana needs to grow a pair and avenge the theft of his vehicle. Good grief, what a nation of cowards we've become when we allow government employees to blatantly steal from us and do nothing about it. Pitiful...

Anonymous said...

Commissary theft--$41,000 ... if she successfully completes her sentence, it won't go on her record. That's ridiculous. Get caught w/$100 of drugs in your pocket and you are a felon for life. But STEAL $41,000 and they will wipe your slate clean.