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devices that monitor telephone calls but that are not covered in the present statute. The other question is about the authority that was given to DPS in 1981 to secretly break into homes and businesses to install eavesdropping devices. Sen. Kent Caperton, D-Bryan, who heads the Criminal Justice Committee \(created this session by Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby at least partly to circumvent staunch wiretap opponent Sen. surprised” to see the wiretap bill pass through the House so easily. He promises “a full day of hearings” on the questions of pen register use and covert entry. Caperton, who fought the covert entry provision in the senate bill in 1981, says he still has misgivings about continuing the provisions this year. He also says the DPS pen register practice “is a form of wiretapping.” Sen. Bob Glasgow, D-Stephenville, who was a strong supporter of the wiretap bill in 1981, says he also objects to the unrestricted use of pen registers by DPS. He says he is not convinced they are necessary tools of policework. Glasgow says covert entry is probably necessary in some instances but that there need to be some restrictions put on it. Glasgow is on Caperton’s Criminal Justice Committee, as is Sen. Craig Washington, D-Houston, who says he is against wiretapping altogether. The other committee members are ,Bob McFarland, Ray Farabee, Ted Lyon and Tati Santiesteban . Col. Adams and the DPS are sure to be on hand soon to calm the fears of the few skeptical senators. The pen registers, the senators will be told, are merely harmless devices that decode the clicks on the line to tell DPS what numbers are being contacted from a suspected drug peddler’s phone. When pressed, the Colonel will allow that, yes, some of the pen registers have a switch that enables the device to pick up the actual conversation as well as the dial tones. But the switch cannot be activated without a special set of keys that are kept under strict security at DPS headquarters in Austin. He will assure senators that no DPS officer, operating, of course, under the strictest professionalism, would use a wiretap without the court’s permission. And as for covert entry, he will soothe that worry, too. In four years, the DPS has not even used its power to break and enter. Finally, he will say, all these practices have been found by the Supreme Court to be constitutional and not in violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. There are some questions that may go unanswered, however. What is to stop an overly inquisitive DPS snoop from clipping together a couple of wires after the pen register is hooked up in order to hear what is being talked about on the lines? How will we ever know whether such a violation happens once, twice, or fairly often? Suppose information of interest to DPS but not relating to drug trafficking is overheard and passed on to law enforcement agents. Suppose in the process of covert bug installation DPS officers find papers and effects the homeowner had preferred to keep private. How are we to be sure that police officers, because of some vaunted “professionalism,” are not likely to give in to the sometimes irresistible urge to snoop and pry in ways not sanctioned? Isn’t it too soon to forget that some of the highest police agents in the land presumably the most “professional” were involved in spying on political “subversives” as little as a decade ago? Is it too far-fetched to wonder if our local professionals might some day try similar schemes? There are these and many other questions. So far we know at least this: 44 times in the last four years a judge in Texas has approved a DPS wiretap. No requests have been turned down. A total of 2,542 persons were overheard; 164 were arrested; 56 convicted. Of the 25,340 conversations DPS officers listened in on, a small fraction nine percent were judged to be “incriminating.” This is how wiretapping has begun in Texas. There is no telling where it will lead and where it will end. D.D. Austin The privatization of this state’s prisons will become a major issue as the legislature contem plates its money woes and courtmandated prison reforms. According to Charles Sullivan of Citizens United for Texas Board of Corrections member Harry Whittington’s opposition to privately-owned prisons “was a big reason why [he] was not re-appointed by Governor Mark White.” It is Sullivan’s contention that we’re going to move into credit-card prisons [so called because the state “doesn’t pay up front but pays it off over a period of years”]. There’s going to be a move this session. He’s [White] setting it up.” According to Sullivan there are a number of corporate interests pressing for privately-owned prisons in this state. They include E. F. Hutton, Merrill Lynch, Brown and Root \(interested in tions Corporation of America, whose executive vice president, Donald T. Hutto, was warden of the Ramsey Unit in Huntsville during the 1960s, when the building tender system, later outlawed in federal court, was at its strongest. In his public pronouncements, Mark White has said moving to privately owned and operated prisons is an important option for the state, but he has not committed himself to the singular pursuit of such a goal. In November 1984, he did meet in new York with Merrill Lynch officials to discuss funding possibilities for such a project. White explained the meeting by telling a December 20 press conference that it is “important that the governor of the state search out the lowest cost ways of accomplishing the responsibilities we have and solving the problem.” At a subsequent press conference, White said he was trying “to maximize the alternatives for our legislators to determine how they can go about it [writing the prison budget] in the least cost fashion. One of those . . . and it’s just a possibility, [is] having private investors build the facility and for the state to, in a sense, pay per diem for the number of people who are actually using the facility. That way we don’t have to put $40 million up front that we don’t have. We get the use of the expanded facilities. We don’t have overcrowding . . . we will help solve the overcrowding problem and not have early releases. All of those things are good, and those are alternatives that the legislature heretofore has never had to deal with. They do now.” Credit-Card Prisons By Geoffrey Rips 6 MARCH 22, 1985