Social worker-types believe that the primary purpose of parole supervision is to help parolees become law abiding citizens. Wrong, flat wrong!
While parole officers are supposed to help reintegrate parolees into society as law abiding citizens, their primary role is to protect the public from felons. Helping parolees obtain gainful employment and counseling them when necessary are secondary.
In order to protect the public parole officers must supervise parolees by conducting surprise field visits to their homes. No phone calls like “Hey Joe, I’m coming to see you tomorrow at 8pm” or “Mrs. Brown, tell your husband I’ll be coming to see him tomorrow at 8 pm.”
8 pm? That’s right. Parole super vision should not be limited to Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. Effective supervision requires that parole officers work some nights and weekends.
But that’s not how parole in Texas, as well as other states, works. Here parole supervision consists mostly of mandated office visits and the wearing of ankle monitors. Neither the office visits nor the ankle monitors will tell the parole authorities whether or not the parolee is abiding by the conditions of parole.
The ankle monitors and their monitoring are a completely worthless expense. They only enrich the vendors of these devices.
In 2018, parolee Jose Gilberto Rodriguez simply cut off his ankle monitor and went on a crime spree in Houston, including the murder of three people, before the cops caught him.
Last year, two parolees wore ankle monitors while killing a man in Fort Lauderdale.
This month, Los Angeles cops arrested three parolees for committing nearly 30 home burglaries in Hollywood while wearing ankle monitors..
When state parole agencies, like the one for Texas, rely mainly on GPS ankle monitors for parole supervision, parole is no longer worth a shit.
The monitors, if they are not cut off, only serve as evidence after the wearers have been caught committing crimes, including murder, because they will show that the parole violators were at the location of the crimes when they occurred.
Texas badly needs to reinvent its parole system
For starters, the parole officers need to be licensed peace officers, which they are not now. They need to be armed and have arrest powers in order to take a parole violator into custody. That means no sissy social workers as parole officers.
The parole officers need to have a definitive work schedule. Wednesdays through Sundays. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 am to 5 pm in the office. Fridays 8 am to 5 pm in the field. Saturdays and Sundays, 3 pm to 11 pm in the field.
Parole caseloads should be limited for the manageable supervision of parolees.
Field visits should be conducted on a surprise basis. If the parolee is not at home during the late hour visit, that should arouse the suspicions of the officer.
Parolees with a history of drug use should be ordered into the office for an unscheduled urinalysis test at least once a month. Parole officers should be supplied with urine containers so that during the home visit of a parolee with a drug history they can obtain some urine for testing. If the parolee insists he can’t pee, the parole officer should tell him he will be jailed until he can. Surprise, surprise, the parolee can suddenly pee. And his test is likely to come up positive.
Parole officers should visit police stations regularly in order to establish and maintain a good relationship with police officers. If they suspect any of their parolees of wrongdoing, they should so inform the police.
Parole officers should arrest any parolees if they have good reason to believe they are committing crimes.
Parole officers should do everything they can to help a parolee integrate back into society as a law abiding citizen. Holding down a decent paying job is most critical for the successful completion of parole. Parole officers must contact prospective employers and sell them on the importance of hiring parolees. Getting a parolee a job at a car wash should be a last resort.
All of the above stipulations make parole work hard, but withe right parole officer it can be done. I’ve done it.
The parole division must include psychologists and/or subcontract with psychologists to counsel parolees that are mentally disturbed.
In 2018 there were some 1,500 parole absconders in Houston and about 8,000 statewide, with most of them committing crimes. Those numbers are most likely higher today. The parole division must have several fugitive units that do nothing but hunt down and capture parole absconders. The police do not have the manpower to go after the absconders.
Get rid of the mandatory office visits. They only tell the parole authorities that the parolee has not absconded. Parolees should be informed that if they want to see their parole officer they can do so during his office hours or they can request for him to see them at home.
Get rid of most of those worthless and expensive ankle monitors. They should be used only on high-risk offenders – child molesters, rapists and robbers who shot their victims – who probably should not have been paroled in the first place. And those ankle monitors should be monitored constantly.
As things stand now, Houstonians and other Texans get no protection from a dismally flawed parole system. There are between 15,000 and 20,000 parolees residing in Houston. Right now there must be hundreds of parolees committing crimes in the Houston area without the knowledge of their clueless parole officers.
Unfortunately, maintaining an effective parole system flies in the face of budget cutting and reducing the prison population.
Unless the system is reinvented, parole might as well be abolished and prison inmates, if released early, freed without any supervision.