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TDCJ and the Rising Prison Population
Transcript of TDCJ and the Rising Prison Population
The Effects of Parole and Probation
Background, Probation and Parole
"Fiscal Year 2012 Statistical Report." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Oct. 2013. <http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/documents/Statistical_Report_FY2012.pdf>.
Moore, Lisa D., and Amy Elkavich. US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. N.p., May 2008. Web. 4 Oct. 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2374804/>.
Dunklee, Caitlin, Travis Leete, and Jorge A. Renaud. "Effective Approaches to YOUTH EXPERIENCES AT Drug Crimes In Texas: Strategies to Reduce Crime, GIDDINGS STATE SCHOOL Save Money, and Treat Addiction." Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (2013): 1-26. Print.
Western, Bruce, and Becky Pettit. "Incarceration and Social Inequality." MIT Press Journals. N.p., 2010. Web. 9 Oct. 2013. <http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/DAED_a_00019>.
CBS News. N.p., 12 May 2011. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. <http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-20053490.html>.
"Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners." Bureau of Justice Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. <http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/dudsfp04.pdf#sthash.NMfv42
"Parents in Prison and Their Minor Children." Bureau of Justice Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2013. <http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/pptmc.pdf#sthash.NMfv42Xm.uH44MFd3.dpuf>.
Harris, Othello, and Robin R. Miller, eds. Impaces of Incarceration on the African American Family. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2003. Print.
Whitfield, Dexter. Economic Impact of Prisons in Rural Areas. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 2008. Print.
Perceived Effects of Prisons
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
TDCJ: Understanding the Basics of
State vs. Federal Prisons
First State penitentiary established in 1848
Texas Department of Corrections
The TDCJ grew out of this single institution in Huntsville, TX (Turner)
In 1849, the penitentiary held only three prisoners; but by 1855, held fifty five.
This is representative of the massive climb the state has taken to earn its current position as #1 for holding the most number of prisoners (Roughly 157,900). (Mixner)
Background: TDCJ History
In 1853, Governor Bell helped institute a mill for inmates to work at. As a result, TDCJ helped cultivate the prominent role of menial labor that dominates prisons today.
Construction of the mill provided ample profits for the prison and allowed it to expand its production capabilities so as to generate even more profits for the state.
This served as a driving incentive to incarcerate
higher amounts of prisoners.
Bell’s belief was that “The first and primary goal of creating income by the sale of the cloth would defray the cost of operating the prison. The second goal was based on the belief that constructive meaningful work by the inmates would instill habits of discipline, self-restraint, and responsibility, while the profits from their labors would help repay their debt to society.”
This belief is unfounded today, since inmates’ incomes do not come close to being able to pay for the operation of prisons. It also attempts to justify labor as being a moral obligation
Background: TDCJ History
“Parole Division.” Texas Department of Criminal Justice. TDCJ. Web. 6 Oct. 2013.
“Revised Parole Guidelines.” Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. TDCJ. 25 July. 2013. Web. 6 Oct. 2013.
"Differences between Federal, State, & Local Inmates." Federal Bureau of Justice. BOP. Web. 16 Nov. 2013
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Nashville: Turner Publishing Company, 2004. Print.
Mauer, Marc, and Meda Chesney-Lind. Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment. N.p.: The New Press, 2003. Print.
"Texas leads US in incarceration growth." November Coalition. November Coalition, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
Mixner, David. "What States Have The Most Prisoners?" David Mixner. Rhys Wright, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
"Justice Policy Institute." Policy Report. N.p., October 2000. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. <http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/texas_tough.pdf>.
Gilmore, Ruth Wilson. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, And Opposition in Globalizing California. (Berkeley: U of California Press, 2007), pp. 87-127.
Alexander, Michelle. "The Lockdown." in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press, 2010. pp 3-28.
"Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) - All FAQs." Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) - All FAQs. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2013. <http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=qa&iid=324>.
Why does Texas have the largest prison population in the nation?
What factors contribute to this?
Specifically: How is prison siting involved?
And what role do parole and probation play in the rising population?
Incarceration in Texas Then and Now
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reflects the mechanisms of mass incarceration.
Such as: the socio-political control instituted through harsh sentencing policies
Texas’s position as having #1 highest prison population in the country can be attributed to the policies employed by the TDCJ.
Studying the TDCJ provides a place from which to understand the greater implications on the prison population due to policy regarding probation and parole.
In addition to the lenses of minimum sentencing and the targeting of racial minorities that we have focused on in class, the trans-generational effects of mass incarceration can be viewed through the impact of prison siting in rural communities.
Parole versus Probation
Parole refers to criminal offenders who are conditionally released from prison to serve the remaining portion of their sentence in the community
Probation refers to adult offenders whom courts place on supervision in the community through a probation agency, generally in lieu of incarceration.
Both have a variety of supervision statuses
Active vs. Inactive
Offenders are required to fulfill certain conditions of their supervision (e.g., payment of fines, fees or court costs, participation in treatment programs) and adhere to specific rules of conduct while in the community.
Of the almost 37,000 inmates entering the Texas prison system in 1998, more than two out of every three entered prison on a parole or probation violation.
Of these, an estimated half were charged not with breaking the law by committing new crimes, but for committing technical violations, such as missing a meeting with a parole officer. (Kaplan et.al)
At the advent of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2/3 of all indictments were for violent offenses, such as murder. (Turner)
There were 68,126 people incarcerated in Texas
for non-violent crimes in 2012.
"During the last 30 years, Texas has enacted laws and policies meant to enhance public safety, resulting in crowded prisons and jails, and a corrections budget...However, a considerable percentage of the people arrested, charged and incarcerated have been low-level drug users. Since 1999, arrests for drug possession in Texas have skyrocketed." (Dunklee et.al)
Bureau of Justice Statistics
A: "No, not really. First of all, people who are up for parole typically watch their actions and try to keep out of trouble because they know they are soon to be out of the prison system. They are seen as 'model inmates'. Similarly, through my personal experiences, it is common for people who are serving lengthier sentences to be model inmates as well, because they do not want to live miserably the rest of their lives. They want to make their imprisonment tolerable and to have the same privileges as those who are up for parole. This isn't the case for all prisoners; there are still those who act up, but the majority of them act civilized and respectful."
Q: Do the attitudes of prisoners facing parole differ from those facing longer sentences?
Q: How often do people on parole or probation violate their terms and end up back in prison?
A: "I don't know the specific statistics on this, but I do know that it is a very high rate. I see tons of repeat offenders walk back through our doors everyday. Mostly because when they are let out on parole, they are sent back to the communities where they lived before they came to prison, which are usually poorer ones that have no chance of integration into mainstream society."
Q: When family members are identified as suspects or witnesses in a criminal case, what are their typical reactions to your questions?
A: "They are very uncooperative and realize that they are being asked to provide information that could jeopardize not only their loved one's freedom, but their own freedom as well. Another reason family members are hostile towards law enforcement such as myself is because they typically do not trust us, mainly because we are the ones who have imprisoned their loved ones."
Due to this belief, many small towns and rural counties actively lobbied state legislatures for prisons to be located in their communities believing that construction and prison jobs would revitalize their economies.
The increased supply of prisons provides a facet through which to understand the relationship between prison siting and the massive increase in Texas' prison population.
However, jobs, especially higher paying positions, such as wardens and department heads, are often filled by outside residents. (Whitfield)
The more prisons there are, the greater the need to incarcerate more people to fill these prisons up.
The corporations that own these prisons must incarcerate as many people as they can in order to make the most profit possible. The more inmate labor they have, the more revenue they generate from the sales of all kinds of goods.
In the prison industrial complex, bodies are seen as “sources of profit”, or tools with which to generate capital. (Davis)
Additionally, it is ironically the taxpayers of these communities that will incur the indirect costs associated with funding inmates. In 2010, the total taxpayer costs to state prisons in Texas was $3,306,358.
Surplus land connects to surplus labor
; as in the past, rural capital has successfully externalized to the state costs associated with changes in production. Prison development has had the intended,
although rarely realized, effect of providing jobs
Texas had the largest criminal justice system in the US prior to being first in number of prisoners
1 out of every 20 Texans are under some form of criminal justice supervision
"harsh sentencing is the primary cause of the prison explosion..." (Alexander)
Minimum mandatory sentences
Probation and parole policies directly reflect this. The risk of individuals being rearrested is far higher when they are subject to regular surveillance and monitoring.
Increased risk of arrest because they are subjected to additional rules
paying fines, meeting with probation officers, restrictions on their travel and behaviour
Over half the population under the supervision of the TDCJ is on probation. This is a significant factor to consider when analyzing the growing population rate within the prison system. Because although these individuals are not currently physically behind bars, they are at a dangerously high risk to find themselves back in prison.
Background: Prison Siting
Such pleasant conditions are no longer the basis for which such decisions are made. In “Golden Gulag”, Ruth Gilmore describes how rural communities present the most easily manageable sites.
What does this mean?
Impoverished rural communities that were having difficulty in attracting other industries became the hub for the construction of prisons, paving the way for the misconception that prisons create jobs, based on the belief that this would stimulate the community's economy.
The instructions for choosing a site for prisons were to find a “healthful climate near navigable water and to not pay more than $5 per acre or buy more than 100 acres.” (Turner)
Q: Of the prisons you've worked in, what are the geographical areas like? Are most of them the same?
A: "Typically, prisons are built in low populated areas within close proximity to cities and counties that can help staff facilities. Also, the geographic locations are flat, have minimal vegetation like trees and bushes, and areas where if a prisoner were to escape, he or she would have no place to hide. This is mostly for the safety of communities and families."
Collateral Consequences of Prison Siting
Texas is one state that tends to "cluster prisons in distinct rural regions has created dozens of rural penal colonies where
prisons dominate the community's economic, social, political, and cultural landscape with myriad and profound effects.
Further implications of prison siting in regard to the increased prison population include the high probability of increased crime rates in communities where there are prisons.
"Nationally, 7.3 million children have at least one parent in jail or prison. Sadly,
70 percent of these kids are doomed to follow in the same footsteps as their parents becoming imprisoned
at some point in their lives. In fact, children of incarcerated parents are five times more likely than their peers to commit crimes. " (Mosely)
Interview With Ron Wagman
Criminal Investigator: Ron Wagman of the French Robertson Maximum Security Facility in Abilene, TX
18 years in law enforcement
4 years with TDCJ
Mineral Wells Pre-parole transfer facility
Lindsey state jail
Walker Sales Substance abuse facility
French Roberston Facility – maximum security (presently here)
Criminal Investigator Wagman
8 years as an investigator
"Multi-jurisdictional drug bust nets nearly $2 million combined of cocaine and heroin"
Nov. 20, 2013
Jose Lopez, 45, of Pasadena, TX pulled over in Alabama
If convicted on state charges, likely to receive
mandatory life sentence
A complete end to minimum mandatory sentencing laws in regards to non-violent, specifically drug related crimes.
If not a complete elimination, then a reduction in minimum sentencing laws through the use of a 'safety valve' sentencing provision; this would give courts the right to overrule a mandatory minimum sentence if the court found a non-violent offender to have little or no criminal background, and deemed that said offender would not pose a threat to society.
Maine has registered the lowest violent crime rate in the country each year since its safety valve law was enacted in 2003. (Pelican Institute for Public Policy)
Reestablish the focus of the criminal justice system to be on violent crime—we are wasting potential crime fighting money by targeting the wrong group of people.
Efforts to expand rehabilitation services for addicts or mentally ill people.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
And the Rising Prison Population
Justice Policy Institute
Justice Policy Institute