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Fine Food and Drink located behind the historic Tarpon Inn, Port Aransas. Of course, what mainly attracted many of these leaders to prison reform this session were the surprising fiscal restraints the state experienced. Every time Comptroller Bob Bullock reduced his revenue projection, prison reform became that much more a viable option. For us, the position of being adamantly against a tax increase was totally in opposition to the stand of most of the other social groups who favored a tax increase. Having feelings of duplicity, we discontinued our attendance at their formal and informal get-togethers. To be effective, we knew that we must keep our vision to the single issue of prison reform. And yet, we realized that the causes of incarceration are a lack of welfare, education and other human services. Another strategic reservation encountered frequently was that, although the state was finally bringing about prison reform, it was being done for the wrong reasons. We decided that we had enough problems without seeking purity of motivation as a goal in lobbying for prison reform in the Texas Legislature. We were winning \(perhaps, for the Other Factors Besides fiscal, there were other reasons why prison reform became a reality this session. Judge William Wayne Justice was in the back of everyone’s mind. The legislators knew if they didn’t take care of the prison problem, Judge Justice would. Also, interim studies for the past ten years have recommended most of the changes made this session. For example, practically all of the recommendations of Gov. Clements’ Blue Ribbon Commission on the Criminal Justice Corrections System were passed. In other words, this session was not the first time that most of these ideas were proposed. `, Finally, the credibility of the prison system was at its lowest in 35 years. Judge Justice’s rulings, the Eroy Brown trials, and, in general, the prison system’s “damn the people of Texas, full speed ahead” attitude finally caught up with them this session. Why does the Texas Department of Corrections have 94 % of its inmates in maximum security when the national average is 42 %? Why are only nine prisoners on work release out of 37,000? Why are most fringe benefits or emoluments reserved for those TDC employees who are paid the most money? Even the Board of Corrections began to question the construction policies of TDC. Prodded by member Harry Whittington, the Board requested that At torney General Jim Mattox investigate the architectural fees of L. D. White and Associates concerning the new cellblock addition at the Ferguson Unit. The AG’s report said that, although White was entitled to his fees, TDC had “poor contract negotiations, inaccurate job estimates, inefficient construction oversight and, in general, poor planning.” Director W. J. Estelle later apologized to the Board and promised to do a better job in construction. Appropriations What the legislature did this session was to shift ten cents of every correctional dollar from TDC to probation, parole, and juvenile correctional agencies. Last session, 761/2 cents out of every correctional dollar went to TDC. This session 661/2 cents will go to TDC. At first glance, this does not seem that extreme. In a way, it isn’t. TDC has 8,500 more beds “on -line” or scheduled for occupancy over the next two years. Also, TDC’s budget is 619.6 million 21 million higher than last session. And yet, this ten cents shift is the beginning of a new day in corrections in Texas. TDC requested an incredible 1.5 billion dollars almost half in construction. This budget request was based on an average net gain of 500 prisoners per month. The legislature and the Governor began “chipping away,” and their final response was a TDC budget based on 200 prisoners net gain per month. At the same time, probation and parole received more money than they requested in the first place. And, most exciting, money was funneled into the juvenile correction systems. Thus, it can readily be seen that community corrections and “trying to turn errant kids around” won this session by simply looking at the percentage of increase in funding for these agencies. The Texas Adult Probation Commission increased 111 % , the Board of Pardons and Paroles 66 % , the Texas Youth Commission 29 % , and the newly created Texas Juvenile Probation Commission a whopping 235 % . Most of these increases in adult corrections were for diversions from the front door of TDC and for more and better programs \(e.g. halfway houses, lower coming out TDC’s back door. Even most of TDC’s budget had CURE’s endorsement. We supported every dollar for operation while opposing every dollar for expansion. Much of this operational funding is due to Judge Justice’s orders in such areas as fire and safety protection and training of guards. His mandates have had a great deal of impact on the number of guards and medical personnel. In 1974, there was only one full-time doctor in TDC. The budget ten years later has money for 50 full-time doctors. Community Corrections Legislation Once the shift in funding was made, enabling legislation had to be passed. Of the 20 measures passed this session, the bill creating restitution centers is the most popular with the public. In fact, Gov. White has allocated money to start immediate implementation, and Houston has already requested four centers. Under the bill, property offenders scheduled to go to TDC would be confined at a facility in the community for up to one year. These prisoners would have to work, and, after living expenses are deducted, his or her paycheck would be used for restitution to the victims of the crime. Another community-based bill designed for those coming out of TDC is the pre-parole program. Prisoners whose crimes and behavior would not pose a threat to the community may be transferred into a halfway house three to four months before their first eligibility date to be considered for parole. If there is successful adjustment, he or she will be paroled from the halfway house at this initial review. If not successful, there will be a reassignment to a TDC unit. Although no state funding was given, work release out of the county jail was encouraged for lower grade felonies. Also, sentences could be served in jail during off-work hours and could include a community service work project. To make certain that only non-violent felons would be in these programs, the parole and sentencing laws were changed. More sentencing reform is expected next session since this issue will be studied by the newly created and powerful criminal justice policy and coordinating councils. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7