“The Texas House Corrections Committee received several ‘Interim Charges’ recently, including one directing them to study:
current Texas criminal justice system policies and practices regarding 17- to 25-year-olds, specific to probation, parole, state jail confinement, and discharge from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or county jail. Review any gaps in services that may be causing this population to recidivate. Make recommendations to improve the state’s response to the needs of this population in order to lower revocation, re-arrest, and reincarceration rates.”
This is another one of those costly studies that are a waste of taxpayer money.
Recidivism, whether among ‘kids’ or adults, has always been a problem and will continue to be a problem because there is a culture of criminality in places where they grew up.
The low recidivism rate Texas parole authorities tout cannot be believed. Nationwide the recidivism rate is between 50 and 60 percent. Someone here is manipulating parole outcomes.
Texas prisons are supposed to “promote positive change in offender behavior, to reintegrate offenders into society.” So is every other prison in this country.
There is no way any prison can accomplish that. Prisons are not open college campuses. Promote positive change in behavior … just how can you do that in a prison? And how do you reintegrate inmates into society when for years they’ve been told when to shit, shower and shave, when to shut up, get up, go here and there, do this and that, and all their basic needs are provided for them.
If we’re really honest about it, the purpose of prisons is to punish offenders and keep them locked up to protect the public.
When I was on the faculty of Sam Houston State University, I volunteered to conduct group therapy sessions for trouble-making inmates at the Ferguson Unit. I also conducted pre-parole classes at Ferguson. But there was little I could really do to prepare them for what they would experience in the free society after having been in the strictly controlled prison society.
The primary purpose of probation and parole is to protect the public. Having been a parole officer, I have studied Texas probation and parole supervision, and I can say without hesitation that probation and parole in Texas are a joke. Probation and parole officers cannot successfully operate on a Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm schedule. Office visits and scheduled home visits allow the offender to cover up any illegal activities he or she may be engaged in.
Of course good probation and parole supervision will not reduce recidivism but surprise nighttime and weekend home visits can detect criminal activities by offenders. And that serves the interest of the public.
To be sure, playing cops and robbers is not the only role of POs. They are supposed to help find the offender employment and provide counseling when he or she admit to having problems.
Actually, offenders who stay out of trouble have self-rehabilitated with the help of family and a good job. A good job, and I don’t mean working in a car wash, is the most significant factor for a probationer or parolee to remain crime free. That and avoiding his former criminal buddies.
The legislature can conduct its study, but in the end recidivism will continue to go its merry way.