Ankle monitors and monthly office visits cannot be used as substitutes for the actual supervision of parolees
On December 18, Click2Houston did a story on five parolees in Houston who committed murders after cutting off their ankle monitors. The story quite simply shows how badly the Texas parole system is broken.
When parole authorities depend on ankle monitors and
monthly office visits for the supervision of parolees, in effect the
parolees are not being supervised at all. The only thing an office visit
will tell a parole officer is that his parolee is still around. And the only
thing an ankle monitor will reveal is the parolee’s location. He could be
burglarizing, robbing and murdering people while wearing his ankle monitor and
the parole authorities wouldn’t know what he was up to.
Obviously, when a parolee tampers with his ankle monitor the authorities can surmise he’s up to no good. But what is he doing and catching him is something else.
The five murdering parolees so angered Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo that he publicly vowed that his police officers would go after parole violators. But that should be the job of parole officers.
Parole officers were obviously asleep on the job in the
Brandon Ledford case. Ledford, 20, who was doing time in prison for a
parole violation, was released on October 9 to another parole. He should
never have been released in the first place because there was a Galveston
murder warrant outstanding for him. Ledford was wanted for shooting an
unarmed security guard at the San Luis Resort in April 2017. The parole
authorities should have called the cops immediately when he appeared at their
office upon his release as required by his parole. Instead, this murderer
floated around on unsupervised parole for about 10 weeks before he was caught
by Rosenberg cops on December 13 when he showed up at the parole office for his
The Texas parole system requires a complete overhaul.
First and foremost, the primary responsibility of parole officers is to protect society from parolees like the five murderers who cut off their ankle monitors. They are also responsible for helping parolees to successfully complete their parole.
There was a time not all that long ago when the sheriffs of rural Texas counties also served officially as parole officers. But parole officers must at times wear the hat of a social worker and those sheriffs were not prepared or willing to do that. A parole system requires the services of parole officers who can perform both social work and law enforcement duties while supervising inmates that have been released from prison.
It must be noted that parolees are not offenders on probation. Parolees are convicted felons who have been released from prison to serve the remainder of their sentence in the free world.
Parole officers must be classified as peace officers so they can arrest parolees on the spot. Being a parole officer is no job for sissy social workers. It takes tough men and women who are not afraid to contact their parolees in high crime neighborhoods and bust them if that becomes necessary for the protection of society.
The Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm system must be changed, requiring parole officers to work late evenings and early nights, and on weekends. Parolees do not restrict their activities to the daylight hours on weekdays.
Except for special circumstances, parole officers can spend only one day a week in the office. That’s when they can do the required paper work and see the parolees they have ordered in for an office visit or those parolees who come in voluntarily. Field visits must take the place of those worthless mandatory office visits.
Only one day of the week should be devoted to daytime field visits. That’s when the parole officer can call on the parolee’s employer and see the parolee on the job. The rest of the work week should be during the evenings when the parole officer can see the parolee at home or at his hangouts if he can find out where they are. Weekend duty can be scheduled for every other weekend unless the parole officer wants to work every weekend.
Field visits must be conducted on a surprise basis. No more of this “Joe, I’ll see you at your house on Wednesday at 2 pm” shit. Scheduled visits allow the parolee who is using drugs or committing other crimes to clean up his act. And peeing in a drug test container must also be done on a surprise basis, and it must be eyeballed by the parole officer to prevent any urine substitution.
Parolees should be seen in the field at least once every six weeks or more often if necessary. That requires manageable caseloads of no more than 60 parolees. Too many parolees? Not for a competent and conscientious parole officer.
There are some exceptional prison inmates who can be released on parole without any supervision, provided they will keep the parole office informed of any residence changes. However, the vast majority of parolees will require strict supervision in order to prevent or detect any criminal activities.
It is important to note that there is much more to parole and to being a parole officer than what has been covered here.
The way an effective parole system must be administered requires much more funding than the legislature is appropriating now. But then, what is the protection of society worth?