Thursday, December 27, 2018


Ankle monitors and monthly office visits cannot be used as substitutes for the actual supervision of parolees

By Howie Katz

Big Jolly Times
December 26, 2018

On December 18, Click2Houston did a story on five parolees in Houston who committed murders after cutting off their ankle monitors. The story quite simply shows how badly the Texas parole system is broken.

When parole authorities depend on ankle monitors and monthly office visits for the supervision of parolees, in effect the parolees are not being supervised at all. The only thing an office visit will tell a parole officer is that his parolee is still around. And the only thing an ankle monitor will reveal is the parolee’s location. He could be burglarizing, robbing and murdering people while wearing his ankle monitor and the parole authorities wouldn’t know what he was up to.

Obviously, when a parolee tampers with his ankle monitor the authorities can surmise he’s up to no good. But what is he doing and catching him is something else.

The five murdering parolees so angered Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo that he publicly vowed that his police officers would go after parole violators. But that should be the job of parole officers.

Parole officers were obviously asleep on the job in the Brandon Ledford case. Ledford, 20, who was doing time in prison for a parole violation, was released on October 9 to another parole. He should never have been released in the first place because there was a Galveston murder warrant outstanding for him. Ledford was wanted for shooting an unarmed security guard at the San Luis Resort in April 2017. The parole authorities should have called the cops immediately when he appeared at their office upon his release as required by his parole. Instead, this murderer floated around on unsupervised parole for about 10 weeks before he was caught by Rosenberg cops on December 13 when he showed up at the parole office for his monthly visit.

The Texas parole system requires a complete overhaul.

First and foremost, the primary responsibility of parole officers is to protect society from parolees like the five murderers who cut off their ankle monitors. They are also responsible for helping parolees to successfully complete their parole.

There was a time not all that long ago when the sheriffs of rural Texas counties also served officially as parole officers. But parole officers must at times wear the hat of a social worker and those sheriffs were not prepared or willing to do that. A parole system requires the services of parole officers who can perform both social work and law enforcement duties while supervising inmates that have been released from prison.

It must be noted that parolees are not offenders on probation. Parolees are convicted felons who have been released from prison to serve the remainder of their sentence in the free world.

Parole officers must be classified as peace officers so they can arrest parolees on the spot. Being a parole officer is no job for sissy social workers. It takes tough men and women who are not afraid to contact their parolees in high crime neighborhoods and bust them if that becomes necessary for the protection of society.

The Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm system must be changed, requiring parole officers to work late evenings and early nights, and on weekends. Parolees do not restrict their activities to the daylight hours on weekdays.

Except for special circumstances, parole officers can spend only one day a week in the office. That’s when they can do the required paper work and see the parolees they have ordered in for an office visit or those parolees who come in voluntarily. Field visits must take the place of those worthless mandatory office visits.

Only one day of the week should be devoted to daytime field visits. That’s when the parole officer can call on the parolee’s employer and see the parolee on the job. The rest of the work week should be during the evenings when the parole officer can see the parolee at home or at his hangouts if he can find out where they are. Weekend duty can be scheduled for every other weekend unless the parole officer wants to work every weekend.

Field visits must be conducted on a surprise basis. No more of this “Joe, I’ll see you at your house on Wednesday at 2 pm” shit. Scheduled visits allow the parolee who is using drugs or committing other crimes to clean up his act. And peeing in a drug test container must also be done on a surprise basis, and it must be eyeballed by the parole officer to prevent any urine substitution.

Parolees should be seen in the field at least once every six weeks or more often if necessary. That requires manageable caseloads of no more than 60 parolees. Too many parolees? Not for a competent and conscientious parole officer.

There are some exceptional prison inmates who can be released on parole without any supervision, provided they will keep the parole office informed of any residence changes. However, the vast majority of parolees will require strict supervision in order to prevent or detect any criminal activities.

It is important to note that there is much more to parole and to being a parole officer than what has been covered here.

The way an effective parole system must be administered requires much more funding than the legislature is appropriating now. But then, what is the protection of society worth?


bob walsh said...

Real security is either inconvenient, or expensive, or both. Conditional release falls into that category. You can either PRETEND to be offering public safety and do it on the cheap, or REALLY do so, which will require some thought, money and inconvenience to those involved. You can't do the job properly from behind a desk using only a telephone.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Texas State Senator John Whitmire has been serving as the chair of the senate's Criminal Justice Committee for the past couple of decades. He is the proud author of the state's criminal justice reforms, including those within the parole system.

Texas claims and Senator Whitmire brags that only 21 percent of parolees are returned to prison within three years following release. That’s simply amazing when the rest of the states with much better parole systems report a parole failure rate of about 50 percent.

Actually that’s nothing to brag about because it shows that Texas parole officers are simply not aware that their parolees are committing crimes or violating important conditions of parole … or that they just don’t give a rat’s ass. If Senator Whitmire believes those phony Texas parole success stats, he must still believe in the tooth fairy.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Here's a better way of putting the last paragraph:

Actually 21 percent is nothing to brag about because it shows that Texas parole officers are simply not aware that their parolees are committing crimes or violating important conditions of parole … or that they just don’t give a rat’s ass. If the truth be known, about 30 percent of Texas parolees are probably committing crimes they’re not getting caught for. If Senator Whitmire believes those phony Texas parole success stats, he must still believe in the tooth fairy.