The Promise of Parole; Texas Needs Reforms AUSTIN Our common good suffers from an insufficiency of plain, intelligent comment on public affairs in Texas. Most of the daily newspapers are satisfied to print the skeletal wire reports on the legislature; a few print the daily stories from their own correspondents and a Sunday column now and then. Most of these columns are flibberti-gibbet or merely partisan; only a few, usually in the Houston Post, the Corpus Christi Ca _ lle.r.mirA4.414—oxAite Da1 2 lasNews, discuss a problem as though it was simply something to be solved. Perhaps this is why we have such a flibberti-gibbet legislature. One cannot believe the majority of the House of Representatives are serious minded men when they defeat a resolution asking Congress to establish a national park at Padre Island, or when they vote to abolish the independent State Parks Board. How can one recover one’s respect for that same body when, every time they have had’ a chance to vote on the question, they favored limiting the federal income tax to 25 percent of a person’s income? One of the members instructed his secretary to watch the votes of two other members he named and to vote him, in his absence, exactly opposite from them. “Every time?” she asked. “All the way.” By such men our decisions are made. The seriousness and rationality of legislators must reflect, on the whole, the seriousness and rationality of public discussion in their society; so we have a legislature controlled by a frivolous majority. An example of the kind of lucid, reasonable discussion with which our public life should be more regularly nourished appears in the current “Public Affairs Comment” of the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. The writer is Giles Garmon, chief adult probation officer of Travis County. He speaks his own views only; the University is not responsible. \(By this very strategem, newspapers could disavow any necessary agreement with the writers to whom they generally .Garmon’s subject is “Improving Society’s Protection in Adult Correction.” Balancing acceptable values that are part of various extremes, he achieves approaches to the wise mean that is never too rigidly defined. As the pamphlet’s circulation is miniscule, and this paper’s subject no less than crime and punishment in Texas, we may profitably follow along with him in his reasoning. TEXAS NEEDS to improve her I present processes for dealing with criminals, as borne out by two sets of figures, Garmon writes. The average crime rate per 100,000 population in the U.S. is 896; in Texas, 1026.9. Texas population increased 24 percent in ten years, while our prison population increased 68 percent in nine years. Since crime threatens us, most of us respond emotionally rather than objectively, but we must distinguish betweenthe urges toward retribution and the protection of society “because in a real sense they are conflicting goals.” Retribution seeks punishment for its own sake, with little regard for later consequences; the protection bf society requires that response to a criminal be judged “by its utility in terms of ultimate safety for the community. “Additionally,” Garmon writes, “in recent yeart there has been growing recognition that final community protection is afforded only when the offender is treated as well as restrained.” Both an over-tender concern for criminals and a brutal desire to punish them, the “tear duct” and the “tear gas” schools of criminology, are essentially emotional and “fail to recognize the need for maintaining that delicate balance between the rights of society and a concern for individuals,” Garmon says. Public hangings and the maiming of offenders failed to deter criminals, and it is largely so that today’s pu n crime. Garmon believes we must agree with the warden of Wallkill Prison in NeW York that “It is almost impossible to make a case for or against punishment or the fear of it as a crime deterrent.” Therefore, Garmon reasons, “It behooves us to see that the sentence of punishment is used to treat and correct the offender, affording sufficient discipline for his control while simultaneously effecting constructive changes in his attitudes and behavior. We need to insure, to the best of our present knowledge, the likelihood that the offender will not commit another crime.” By distinguishing between emotionalism and rationality, by thinking carefully with the im portant values in solution in his mind, Garmon has worked irresistibly to this clear and unexceptionable conclusion. HE THEN ADAPTS his conclusion to the Texas problem. The behavioral sciences have taught us to individualize response to crime with concepts of probation and parole for correction. It would be impractical, he says, economically to imprison every felonious Texan; 5,300 of them are sentenced to prison every year, and to imprison all of them for the next ten years, we would need about 31 additional Huntsvilles and our relief rolls would have to support the dependents of about 60,000 people! The behavioral sciences have taught us to individualize responses to criminals through the concepts of probation and parole for correction. In 1957, the legislature gave the board of pardons and paroles the parole authority, and the courts the probation authority. Roughly, this is what has ensued, Garmon writes: Those persons released on parole by the state are supervised by a state-financed program. Parole is an extension of control over a released inmate while he is in the community; its efficacy depends entirely on adequate supervision, without which, Garmon says, “it sometimes justifiably raises the public’s wrath.” In 1957 the legislature provided for 40 professional parole officers, required by law to have college backgrounds and experience dealing with people. They are now making 5,000 personal contacts a month with parolees, their families, and others, two thirds of these being contacts in the field. In addition, 400 full investigations are completed each month to guide the state board in whether to parole prisoners. These reports include a review of the situation to which the parolee might be released, and a specific job offer, often drummed up by the parole officer. As a net result, 1,700 additional persons are on parole, “a direct saving to the state of approximately $4 million in the last four years after all parole costs have been subtracted.” The fate of the probation program is a depressing contrast. Financing of probation was left to the counties; today there is still no state-wide basis for probation supervision. “This is indeed unfortunate,” Garmon writes, “since probation holds so much promise for dealing with offenders in a constructive and objective manner. If, instead of a term in prison, we are able to supervise persons in the community under restraint, there are tremendous human, economic, and social savings available. . , . As many as half of those convicted of felonies can benefit, and society is greatly protected, if they are supervised in the community under the direction of probat ieF “They are liable to prison sentences if they violate the conditions of the probation, while at the same time the probation officer is enabled to utilize the strong forces which work toward the readjustment of the convicted person who is on probation. The probationer is able to stay on the job and retain his work skills, while at the same time supporting his family and himself. The family is kept intact, and this usually works sharply in favor of reducing the probability of further crime. “Most important, probation allows the convicted person .to avoid the stigma of ‘ex-con.’ The avoidance of this label and its consequent social reaction is a mightly force for rehabilitation. AUSTIN Of all the politicians in the Texas Senate, possibly the most disrupting is Dallas’s contribution to capitol chaos, George Parkhouse. And yet by some standards Parkhouse is a clever man, for he is able to do what many bailbondsmen and many lawyers are not nearly so able to do when it comes to springing convicts. Parkhouse’s talents along this line were brought to light by the Dallas Times-Herald and by Scripps-Howard reporter Carl Freund last month, when it was discovered that the path from the Huntsville penitentiary had been smoothed through the intervention of Parkhouse in behalf of a 31-year-old narcotics-carrier. This convict, whom we will call “Corky,” had been sentenced from Dallas on Jan. 18 to four twoyear terms, to run concurrently, three of the sentences for possesthe other .term for concealing stolen goods. He began his sentence in Huntsville on Feb. 17. He was paroled early in July, after serving the absolute minimum time. \(He was given credit for his wait in counHOW WAS IT accomplished? Well, Pat Bullock, chairman of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, assured the Observer this week that it was all on the up and up, and that the board had simply decided Corky, who has reportedly been arrested something over 100 times since 1945, was a good parole risk. But Dallas and Fort Worth newsmen said Corky’s release was speeded by Parkhouse, and Bullock conceded that Parkhouse did have a hand in timing the final release, although he said he felt the newspapers were trying to warp the picture. Said Bullock: “The press accounts are misleading. I don’t know what’s got into the press. In most cases the probationer is able to rectify some of the damage done by making restitution to the injured party, with the consequent gains of personally having righted a wrong. “Finally, the financial savings available through a well executed program are extremely large, and the failure rate of th placed pe rhaps 91,____,–aarci ird of that of persons who are sentenced to prison.” There are three phases of probation. The first is pre-sentence investigation, used by the judge in deciding the sentence and by the probation officer in his treatment plan for the individual. The second is surveillance through office, field, and collateral contacts vital to community protection. The third is treatment of the individual, the use of personal and community resources to change behavior. All three phases require “adequate staff, both in quality and quantity.” The legislature in 1957 expressed its desire for a limit of 75 cases per probation officer, but Garmon says most Texas officers, except new ones, “try to supervise caseloads far in excess of 75. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency recommends a caseload not to exceed 50.” “The cost of imprisonment far exceeds the cost of good probation services,” Garmon concludes.. Sentencing should be a function of the judge, not the jury, Garmon says. Forty-five states and the federal courts use juries They seem to, be eager to hurt us, or to hurt the legislators, or something. “Parkhouse had nothing to do with this man’s release, except he speeded up the reply from the arresting officers. He did do that. Ordinarily we wait ten days for them to reply before acting on release. But Parkhouse just got on the phone and telephoned the district attorney in Dallas to speed up hiS answer.” Before a prisoner is released from the penitentiary the men who helped send him up are asked for their opinions. If they don’t object, the governor usually signs the release papers. But that’s the whole point. Corky was a narcotics offender with a bad record, and Gov. Daniel has a reputation for being hard on narcotics offenders. Would he sign the papers? Fortunatelyfor CorkyDaniel was out of town. He was, in fact, in Hawaii, and Ben Ramsey, good old Uncle Ben, was acting governor. That’s why Parkhouse rushed the process. Parkhouse explained to reporter Freund: “What would you do if a mother in your district called you and pleaded with you to help get her boy out of prison? A lot of people can’t afford to hire lawyers. If I think the case is deserving, I try to get help. But I never charge them money. I felt he deserved to get out on good behavior. But I knew Price would never approve a parole. You know how he is about narcotics cases. So I tried to arrange for the board to recommend the pa’ role while Price was out of the state and Ben was acting governor.” It worked. Ben signed on the line, and Corky went back to his old Dallas playgrounds, undoubtedly willing to help Parkhouse nail up placards in his next political campaign. BUT BULLOCK, a former senator himself, feels the press” was trying to make Parkhouse too much of an exception. “The kind of help Parkhouse gave is very ordinary,” he said. “Your constituents use you all the time to run errandsdo something at the land office, do something at the parole board, do something here, there, all the time. When I was in the Senate I must have come down to this board 100 times. I only needed one secretary for my correspondence, but I had two, because I used one for nothing but running errands for my constituents. Most legislators give this kind of help. I’ve got a letter right here on my desk from Rep. Hughes asking for some formation. “They may tell us they think some old boy has served long enough, but we can agree or disagree. There’s no pressure. They could threaten to cut our appropriations, if we don’t help them, but they never make the . threat.” A source close to the governor office told the Observer that “some legislators give this kind of service, it’s true, but a few give it much more often than others.” Daniel himself, looking through Corky’s files this week to see if the case was clean, admitted to the Observer that he was downright peeved. “I don’t like the way this was handled at all,” he said, adding that he never signed parole papers for narcotics peddlers and that he signed out narcotics users only if they didn’t have too bad a record. “I understand this fellow has quite a past,” he saidthen, making the best of the situation, he turned back with the kind valediction, “Of course, I wouldn’t want to do or say anything that might prevent his rehabilitation.” At week’s end, the folder on Corky had been closed, until next time. B.S. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 August 18, 1961 CLOSING CORKY’S FOLDER only to assess guilt or innocence; the judges do the sentencing. “Under Texas laws,” Garmon
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