West Texas Community Supervision and Corrections

Director Magdalena Morales-Aina

800 E. Overland
Suite 100
El Paso, Texas 79901-2516
Phone (915) 546-8120
Fax (915) 546-8130
WestTexasCSCD
@epcounty.com

West Texas Community Supervision and Corrections Department

  • In the News
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  • Sunday, February 20, 2005
  • Don't allow situation to get out of hand
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  • Mary Anne Bramblett, judge of the 41st State District Court in El Paso, issued a dire warning recently, a warning that the Legislature should heed.
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  • Bramblett said that unless lawmakers increase funding for probation programs, there will be a "meltdown" of expensive proportions.
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  • Bramblett said in Austin a little over a week ago, "This meltdown will include prison population increases never before imaginable that will result in astronomical amounts of state funds being spent on the building of new prisons."
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  • That could lead right to a discussion of the relative merits of incarceration versus probation. But what's really eye-catching here is the bottom line.
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  • Compare the costs of probation programs with the cost of locking up offenders. The probation, including substance-abuse treatment and counseling, runs 97 cents per day. Incarceration costs $44 per day
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  • That disparity should make lawmakers sit up and take notice, particularly because this legislative session is going to see creative penny-pinching elevated to an art form as officials try to fund everything that needs funding.
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  • Other statistics also argue for a new look at the probation program.
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  • The Texas Probation Association says that each probation officer should have a caseload of 75 offenders, which itself seems higher than it should be.
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  • But El Paso probation officers are struggling under a burden of about 132 cases each. The state average is even worse, 152.
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  • Bramblett, vice chairwoman of the Judiciary Advisory Council, which advises the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, said, "These are not safe numbers. Caseload numbers must come down or judges will be forced to send more people to prison to safeguard yo! ur commu nity."
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  • Yet, in the face of these daunting statistics, the Legislative Budget Board has recommended a $4 million cut. The Texas Probation Association is recommending an increase of $60 million a year to help facilitate caseload reduction.
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  • State legislators have a whole lot of serious matters to consider during this session, and most of them have dollar signs attached to them.
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  • Obviously, there will have to be compromise and painful decisions. There are some things that just have to be fixed and funded; school financing leaps to mind.
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  • But legislators must not lose sight of other programs that need revamping. No one wants the probation situation to turn into another Adult Protective Services debacle that requires huge amounts of money and effort to fix.
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  • Bramblett knows what she's talking about. The Legislature needs to listen.