January 20, 2005
One thing leads to another

Parole, probation violators add to prison overcrowding

Scarce Texas prison beds are increasingly being used by offenders who have violated a condition of their parole or probation, often for something as minor as missing a meeting or failing to pay a fee.

Parents weigh in on zero tolerance

As Texas lawmakers ponder ways to revamp the law on student discipline both to ensure fairness and keep schools safe, parents are frustrated and worried about the pervasiveness of so-called "zero tolerance" discipline.

Critics say this policy gives school districts the green light to impose strict, uniform penalties for misbehavior without considering extenuating circumstances such as the students' intent to do harm or prior disciplinary records.

Am I the only one who thinks these two problems might be connected somehow?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 20, 2005 to Crime and Punishment | TrackBack

Here's your connection, or part of it. A LOT of kids getting in trouble in school have incarcerated parents themselves.

Posted by: Scott on January 20, 2005 8:00 AM

...often for something as minor as missing a meeting or failing to pay a fee.


Three reporters contributed to this story, and there's not one number offered in support of the assertion that parolees are "often" returned to prison based on missing a meeting or failing to pay a fee.

There are numbers that support the assertion that parole is being revoked, yes, but there is nothing but anecdotal support (one judge's 15 minute rule, as conveyed by Senator Whitmire, but apparently not verified by any of the three reporters, since a name is not given) of the assertion that parolees are "often" return for trivial reasons.

The insinuation seems to be that all procedural reasons are trivial, but there's just not enough evidence in this story to support that.

Posted by: kevin whited on January 20, 2005 8:04 AM

Kevin, it's certainly true that the article doesn't prove that jailing technical parole violators contributes significantly to prison overcrowding. But a newspaper is not a peer-reviewed journal! Its purpose is to bring issues of interest to the attention of the public, not to rigorously defend a thesis in an academic setting.

It's not as if the article is claiming the existence of Bigfoot; it's claims are quite plausible to anyone besides knee-jerk defenders of "git tuff on crime" policies. If you want to convince us otherwise, we're willing to look at the facts and figures that disprove it, if you have them.

Posted by: Mathwiz on January 26, 2005 3:30 PM