June 16, 2005, 10:25mhartman
Living way out in west Texas, I was surprised to get an automated phone call yesterday from a legislator(whose name I did not catch) urging calls to the Gov's office to support the signing of HB 2193. Further stating that if it was not signed, dangerous criminals would be let out on the streets etc. It went on to say that the Gov. was receiving pressure from special interest groups not to sign the bill(but did not id those groups).....
Could they be referring to the prosecutors who recommended bill be vetoed?
[This message was edited by mhartman on 06-16-05 at .]
June 16, 2005, 17:07Diana Adams
I received a flyer in the mail on June 13, urging me and other conservative republicans to call the Gov. and urge him to sign the Bill with the same dire warnings if it is vetoed. PAC who sent it out was someone I had never heard of. I threw the flyer out. Interesting way to charecterize that bill.
June 16, 2005, 17:50mhartman
I believe the call I received was from a republican as well, but no PAC or other funding source was named in the call. I must admit I hung up when they offered to put me through to the Gov's office so I could voice my support for the bill.
June 17, 2005, 08:19Tim Cole
This sounds like the ACLU. They have put a lot of money into trying to get this thing passed, including personal attacks in the home districts of the district attorneys who went to Austin to speak out against it.
June 17, 2005, 08:43e sainz
If we didn't know better, we just might believe these bald faced lies. If the Dems organized the way the Republicans do to feed off of fear, there's no telling what they too could "accomplish."
June 17, 2005, 09:06A.P. Merillat
Yea, like Dick Durbin's conservative comments and right-wing mindset.
I hate the fact that terrorists, I mean suspected terrorists, had to be exposed to such temperatures that they actually shivered, as Dick reported. And, holy smokes, they had to listen to rap music while "chained to a floor."
In the old days of the early 80s, when multiple arrests were made at rock concerts, riots and/or gang fights (almost synonymous, I know), we frequently had to handcuff several bad guys together by way of a "chain" attached to an iron ring on the wall of a holding cell while waiting for a "wagon call." So, you could actually say that "...teenagers and some Allman Brothers fans were chained to a wall for over an hour before being taken to the Houston jail," but it's all in the context, you see.
And, I've been in Wal Mart on early mornings when the a/c was so low that I've actually shivered. But Dick never went to the Senate floor and decried my mistreatment.
June 17, 2005, 11:31Shannon Edmonds
The bill was supported by some Ds and Rs and opposed by some Ds and Rs, so don't strain yourselves making this a partisan issue.
That said, I can guarantee that if you followed the money, the ACLU is behind the campaign. Interestingly, they have been very secretive about not stamping their own name on these efforts. Make of that what you will!
June 17, 2005, 16:31David Newell
I looked on the Texas Legislature Online and I saw that HB 2193 was vetoed today. I began to be hopeful when I saw that the governor was signing the big life without parole bill and thought he might try to veto some of these other bills.
June 17, 2005, 16:53Shannon Edmonds
Probation reforms, 18 other measures killed by pen
By Jonathan Osborne
> Saturday, June 18, 2005
Controversial yet highly touted reforms to Texas' probation system were killed Friday with a gubernatorial veto, scuttling what legislative leaders had high hopes would ease an impending crisis with overcrowded state prisons by keeping more nonviolent felons under close supervision in local communities.
The measure was one of 19 bills that Gov. Rick Perry vetoed, including one that would have required police officers to get signed consent from a motorist before searching a vehicle.
In vetoing House Bill 2193, Perry harshly criticized the probation measure as a "flawed piece of legislation" that prosecutors across Texas had strenuously objected to since its passage.
"I can only conclude their opposition stems from good cause," Perry said in a proclamation accompanying his veto.
"Attempts to improve this legislation that would have provided greater public safety were rebuffed, ensuring a flawed piece of legislation that would endanger public safety made it to my desk instead of one that could have made needed improvements to our probation system," the governor wrote.
Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, a sponsor of the measure who refused the last-minute changes late in the legislative session, said he was deeply disappointed by the veto.
"This is a huge loss for improving public safety . . . and without fixing a probation system everyone agrees is broken, we will have a huge prison population problem we'll have to address sooner rather than later," Whitmire, D-Houston, said.
House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, a key House author, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, a vocal opponent of the reforms and one of more than two dozen prosecutors who urged the veto, applauded Perry's decision.
"Governor Perry acted in the best interest of the public to prevent the inappropriate early release of convicted felons," Bradley said. "We need to make sure probation officers have enough resources to safely supervise and treat convicted criminals while they are on probation, but early release is not the right solution."
In his veto proclamation, Perry said the reforms improperly reduced the maximum term of probation for some crimes such as assaulting a police officer and taking a police officer's weapon from 10 to five years.
"I will not sign legislation that reduces penalties for offenses against law enforcement officers," the governor said.
In addition, he said, the legislation also would have reduced the maximum period of probation for crimes such as kidnapping, injury to a child, repeated spousal abuse, intoxication assault and habitual felony drunken driving.
He said that though the measure would have increased court fines to expand drug-crime courts, a wording mistake made no appropriation for the new revenue.
Whitmire insisted that several of Perry's assertions were flat wrong: Though the measure would have limited probation for many crimes to five years, instead of the current 10, it would have allowed judges to extend the probationary period to 10 years if a defendant needed the additional supervision. And the drug court funding, he said, was properly appropriated.
"This is really a missed opportunity to strengthen our probation system," he said. "This bill would have helped focus our resources better to more closely supervise the people who need supervision the most."
In all, more than 267,000 Texans are on probation, 157,000 of them for felony crimes and 110,000 for misdemeanor crimes. Nearly 25,000 had their probation revoked and were sent to prison last year, at least 10,000 for rules infractions such as showing up late for appointments, having a dirty urinalysis test or not completing community service hours on time.
It is the latter group that legislative leaders had hoped to keep out of prison to free up bunks to handle the growing number of felons. According to official projections, the state expects to be at least 3,500 prison beds short in two years.
With the 151,000-convict state prison system already brim full, prison officials are making plans to lease 575 additional beds in county and private lockups beginning in July.
I disagree with Terry's slash and burn approach to those Legislators who supported HB 2193. I also think it is disrespectful to the debate that did occur on the subject.
Terry, you had an opportunity, and took it, to speak before legislative committees on alleged probation "reform." You got to voice your opinion and, as I recall, got to suggest many things.
The fact that the Legislature chose not to follow those suggestions does not mean they deserve to be voted out of office. By and large, the Legislature was quite responsive to law enforcement concerns. And for those concerns that didn't get heeded, the Governor made sure the public was protected. I would say that was a fairly successful democratic process.
In addition, the probation debate did highlight that something does need to be done to improve probation. I strongly disagree with the rather hysterical claims that it is "broken", but it certainly might be cracked.
One of the best suggestions that was made througout the process was to come up with a better way for judges to consider early termination of probation for successful probationers. Unfortunately, the Legislature was not willing to accept a narrow, safe plan for implementing that goal.
That doesn't mean, however, that we, as prosecutors, can't do it on our own or in cooperation with probation departments and judges. So, I ask, shouldn't we do something on our own?
John, I agree that we as prosecutors should take advantage of the trust that has been placed in us by Governor Perry. I fully intend to meet with my probation department and judges in order to try to fashion a policy of sorts which will address early termination. However, I could certainly use some ideas about what that policy should be. Perhaps we could consider making early termination (unopposed or agreed) a part of the plea negotiations with the understanding that it will depend upon the offense and the performance of the probationer. Currently, my office is only reactive to early termination requests. With a consistent policy, we could become proactive. For example, depending upon the offense and the facts of the case, the probation office would request early termination at a particular point in the probationary period IF the probationer has completely fulfilled all of his payment obligations and has completely and totally "toed the line." Any ideas along these lines?
June 18, 2005, 09:06BLeonard
A couple of months ago I sat down with our court probation officers and later with the Judge to try to come up with some ways to address the legitimate concerns the legislators had with the probation system. We are trying more intermediate sanctions on drug offenders and other youthful or non-violent offenders and are continuing to encourage field officers to initiate early release for appropriate cases.
If the Gov. suffers political fallout from his veto of probation "reform" I don't want to be the cause of it. John is right.
June 18, 2005, 20:41Shannon Edmonds
There will be more to come on this topic during our regional legislative updates, but ... even with the veto of HB 2193 there will be some systemic change in probation. For the 1st time in about 10 years, the Lege ponied up $50+ million to hire more CSCD officers and to create about 500 new CSCD treatment beds -- BUT the money will be tied to the adoption of a local system of progressive sanctions through each county's criminal justice plan. And one of the suggested elements of a progressive sanction system will be more structured early review and termination in appropriate cases.
While the information I've seen so far on progressive sanctions does not raise the specter of a juvenile-like system of near-mandatory restrictions, it still goes to show that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch (isn't that always the way govt works?).
We'll give you information on how to keep track of -- and participate in -- these developments during our regional updates that start in July.
June 18, 2005, 20:49Shannon Edmonds
Their press release (sorry, I'm too lazy to fix the punctuation that got fried in transition from the Word doc):
PERRY VETOES BILLS THAT WOULD HELP FIX TEXAS? BROKEN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Vetoes add to state budget crisis
Many organizations today condemned Governor Rick Perry?s decision to veto much-needed legislation that passed overwhelmingly from both chambers and was carried by Republicans and Democrats.
?It is irresponsible and short sighted that the governor today decided to follow the lead of a few while ignoring changes recommended by both Republican and Democratic leadership that would benefit all Texans,? said Ana Yanez Correa, Southwest Legislative Liaison, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). ?By vetoing House Bill 2193 in particular, Governor Perry has rejected a sensible and effective strategy to increase public safety while reducing criminal justice costs. During the session, Governor Perry said that the criminal justice system needed to be fixed, and now he has abandoned that duty.?
?Together the four major criminal justice bills vetoed today would have improved the integrity of the criminal justice system from the point of arrest through sentencing?ensuring that good cases hold up in court and offenders have incentives to successfully move out of the system,? said Vickie Randall, Executive Director of the Ministry Advisory Council. ?The hundreds of ministers who came to the capitol in support of these bills will feel blatantly disregarded.?
?Governor Perry was absent throughout the debate on all of these bills, and only parachuted in during the final stages of the Senate hearing on HB 2193 with amendments from a single opponent,? said Ann del Llano, ACLU of Texas.
?Texas Monthly listed Senator Whitmire as one of the ?Ten Best? this session because of his criminal justice leadership, observing that ?No law maker saved Texas taxpayers more money this session?. Perry should be on the ?worst? list for vetoing the key legislation that addressed Texas? public safety problems,? said Will Harrell, Executive Director of ACLU of Texas.
A number of major statewide organizations support strengthening the criminal justice system including the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Re-entry Roundtable, the Restorative Justice Ministries Network, the Ministry Advisory Council, the Texas League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Christian Life Commission and many more. Each of these bills was supported by a large number of groups.
?Thousands and thousands of Texans placed phone calls, wrote letters, and personally visited the Capitol in Austin this year to ask for improvements in the criminal justice system,? said Emmett Solomon, of the Restorative Justice Ministry Network. ?Texans should be on notice that Perry listens and responds to a small number of individuals rather than the needs and the expressed views of Texas citizens and a majority of the Texas legislature.?
?HB 2193 was based on research showing how to reduce crime in Texas. Our government insists that evidence-based research be used to insure the safety of our food, drugs, cars and more. Why shouldn?t the same rules apply to criminal justice?? said Penny Rayfield, Chair of the Austin Travis County Re-entry Roundtable Planning Council. ?Why can?t the government use the same level of research to protect us from crime as it requires to protect us from mad cow disease.?
The following bills were vetoed:
SB 1195?protected criminal cases made after police conduct consent searches at traffic stops by mandating that the driver?s consent be documented either in writing or on tape. [Author, Hinojosa; companion by Hupp, Dutton]
?This bill merely required police to inform drivers of their fourth amendment rights, so that when they consent to a search, the search is valid,? said Harrell. ?The legislature reviewed this issue thoroughly, with information from many jurisdictions. There is no lack of information, but the Governor was not participating in the legislature?s consideration of this issue.?
HB 3152?prohibited prosecutors and judges from pressuring unrepresented defendants into proceeding without counsel, reducing the risk that warranted convictions might be overturned because they were illegally obtained. This bill was unopposed in both houses. [Escobar, Hodge, Ellis]
?The Governor says this bill would jeopardize convictions, but the fact is that current practices create the risk that guilty people will go free,? said Dominic Gonzales, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. ?All this bill required was an informed waiver of your constitutional right to counsel. By vetoing this bill, the Governor rejected the most reasonable solution to a major problem that creates uncertainty in the criminal justice system.?
HB 2193?holds accountable those offenders who deserve a more stringent approach to corrections while providing an efficient and less expensive way of handling those offenders who are not violent and hold the most promise of leading productive lives and taking responsibility for their families. [by Madden, Turner, Allen, Haggerty, McReynolds, Whitmire]
?Texas? probation system is broken. Today 77,500 probation violators run free but our state has limited resources to go after them--that is not acceptable,? said Correa. ?This bill would have fixed that.?
HB 1896?saves taxpayer money and creates incentive for personal responsibility, encouraging offenders to abide by the requirements of their supervision. [by Hodge, joint authors Madden, Allen, Haggerty; sponsored by Whitmire]
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition began in 1999 to bring affected communities and concerned organizations together to educate the public about the need for reform and make an impact at the State Legislature.
June 18, 2005, 23:39ABender
On a lighter note, I now take back all those sarcastic references to Governor Perry as "Gov. Good Hair". The governor does have some good old fashioned horse sense.
Now if he'll just give my boss a pay raise in a special session, I might be persuaded to vote for him, having left that box blank last election!
On a more serious note, I am relieved & thankful for all the district attorneys who lobbied the governor to veto these bills. Thanks for your efforts.
June 20, 2005, 21:39Terry Breen
If probation is "broken," how does releasing from further supervision thousands of probationers who are no longer a problem help probation?
The model probationers that "Probation Reform" pretended to target do not take up much time or resources of probation departments. That is so because P.O.'s use their common sense, and have such probationers report 3 or 4 times a year, and when they do report, their meetings are brief. Such probationers actually support probation by paying P.O. fees. And of course, many such people are not truly model probationers, because they are still committing crimes. And when they get caught, they are at risk for being sent to the joint.
We all know that. Therefore, it is a dishonest argument to say that "Probation Reform" would help probation. It was simply a way to save money by having fewer active criminals on probation, and therefore at risk for being sent to TDC.
I believe legislators who vote for such dangerous bills should be held accountable at election time. I think that is what democracy is all about. Perhaps, if they are made to pay a price, our next legislature will be interested in real reform: more prison beds, more TYC prison beds, meaningful parole (i.e. parole that will revoke before a parolee is convicted of a new crime), repeal of Art. 38.22 CCP (the confession statute); repeal of the statute that draws juros from D/L and State I.D. cards, and on and on.
What a happy day.
June 21, 2005, 18:09BLeonard
HB 2193 was based on research showing how to reduce crime in Texas. Our government insists that evidence-based research be used to insure the safety of our food, drugs, cars and more. Why shouldn?t the same rules apply to criminal justice?? said Penny Rayfield, Chair of the Austin Travis County Re-entry Roundtable Planning Council. ?Why can?t the government use the same level of research to protect us from crime as it requires to protect us from mad cow disease.?
That research was certainly a well-kept secret. And then a real beauty:
"By vetoing House Bill 2193 in particular, Governor Perry has rejected a sensible and effective strategy to increase public safety while reducing criminal justice costs. During the session, Governor Perry said that the criminal justice system needed to be fixed, and now he has abandoned that duty."
The claims that the bills would have enhanced public safety are a true exercise in Orwellian speech. Or maybe, like Humpty-Dumpty, words here mean exactly what the proponents say they mean.
"Together the four major criminal justice bills vetoed today would have improved the integrity of the criminal justice system from the point of arrest through sentencing, ensuring that good cases hold up in court and offenders have incentives to successfully move out of the system," said Vickie Randall, Executive Director of the Ministry Advisory Council.
How again would the "integrity" of the system have been enhanced? And how would the legislation have ensured "good cases" hold up in court?
Seems to me that the ACLU and its affiliated special interest groups are mastering the art of disinformation and double talk. In their minds, any legislation that WEAKENS the ability of law enforcement to detect, or prosecutors to effectively prosecute, crime STRENGTHENS the criminal justice system. Any legislation that REDUCES previously assessed punishment, thereby letting many criminals off the hook is described as FOCUSING OUR ATTENTION on more "punishment worthy" offenders. Finally, any legislation that NARROWS or reduces punishment options available to prosecutors and judges is described as SENSIBLE and amounts to GETTING TOUGHER on those who need to be punished more.
To me, praise needs to be given to John Bradley and others who have taken it upon themselves to attempt to educate the public as to the truth. These various bills discussed in this thread and vetoed by the Governor were nothing more than bill designed to coddle and protect criminals--nothing more, nothing less. How many so called "conservative" legislators allowed themselves to be "hoodwinked" into supporting such liberal legislation is beyond me.
The fact that these bills came so close to becoming law should serve as a wake up call to all of those who serve in the trenches and understand how things work in the "real world." We all need to be more proactive in our dealings with our individual legilators and the media. The public deserves to know the truth about how things really are.