Probation revocations decline slightly: Target resources, strategies toward revocation reduction

Here are a few details from TDCJ’s “Report to the Governor and Legislative Budget Board on the Monitoring of Community Supervision Diversion Funds” published on Dec. 1, for those interested:

In FY 2012, 23,449 felony offenders in Texas had their probation revoked and were sent back to TDCJ out of a total 231,376 offenders under direct and indirect supervision statewide. Seven percent of those revoked were DWI offenders, 31% were first convicted on some sort of controlled-substances charges, mostly possession, reported TDCJ.

Revocations for “technical” violations declined, but not as much as is sometimes portrayed, according to the report. TDCJ reported 13,504 felony technical revocations in 2005 compared to 12,034 in 2012. “In FY2012, approximately 39% of offenders revoked to TDCJ for technical violations had absconded in the year prior to revocation, a slight increase from 36% in FY2011.” So a significant proportion of the remaining “technical” violators stopped showing up at meetings with their probation officer and had a warrant issued. (That’s a narrow category where stronger, HOPE-style, probation measures might be useful.) One third of felony technical revocations in 2012 were defendants convicted of controlled substances offenses, reported TDCJ.

One micro-trend Grits hadn’t heretofore detected:

In FY2012, funding reductions closed five (5) residential facilities resulting in a loss of 181 residential beds. In addition, one (1) 90-bed facility in El Paso was closed for 8 months in FY2012 due to building maintenance issues. The closure of these beds during FY2012 resulted in a 10.6% decrease in the overall average CCF [community corrections facility] population between FY2011 and FY2012. However, due to the significant investments in residential treatment beds, the current statewide average CCF population represents approximately 300 more treatment beds used in FY2012 than in FY2005. 

Here are a few more details about specific local probation departments:

Tarrant CSCD increased felony revocations to TDCJ by 290 from FY2011 to FY2012; that number represents a 21.2% increase in revocations. Tarrant CSCD’s percentage of the felony population is 4.9% of the state, while their revocations represent 7.1% of the felony revocations to TDCJ statewide. The CSCD recently began auditing revocations between FY2010 and FY2012 to examine reasons for the observed increase in revocations. Initial results indicate that due to several issues relating to data collection and reporting, FY2011 revocations were under-reported. However, the observed trend of a decrease in revocations between FY2010 and FY2011 and an increase between FY2011 and FY2012 is accurate. Therefore, a more in-depth audit of FY2012 revocations is being conducted to examine reasons behind the increase.

Although the percentage of felony revocations to TDCJ is similar to their percentage of the statewide felony population, the continuing increases in revocations in Bexar CSCD are noteworthy. In FY2013, Bexar CSCD will be conducting research to determine the factors that increase felony revocations.

TDCJ-CJAD has been working with Collin CSCD since January 2009 to address issues leading to the increasing numbers of revocations to TDCJ. Collin CSCD indicated that they would be moving toward a more proactive rather than reactive approach to supervising offenders. Initial results show a decrease in revocations between FY2011 and FY2012 and TDCJ-CJAD will continue to support Collin CSCD in efforts to reduce revocations to TDCJ.

Changes in Hidalgo CSCD’s felony direct and indirect population are more likely due to reporting changes rather than changes in the population.

Felony revocations to TDCJ for all CSCDs are detailed in Appendix C (p. 28).

The report warned that for diversion programs to succeed will require adequate funding for local probation departments, since:

positive steps taken toward reducing revocations to TDCJ also mean CSCDs are supervising a more challenging population. As successful offenders are rewarded with early termination, the population under supervision is increasingly comprised of offenders with greater risk and needs levels. In addition, the percentage of new placements to probation that are classified as medium or maximum risk to re-offend is increasing, meaning CSCDs must continue to target resources and treatment programming toward the offenders most at risk to re-offend.

In the 2012-2013 biennium, 85 counties reported using some sort of progressive sanction model in their local probation programming (see p. 23). Appendix A (p. 26) provides a good recent history of legislative changes related to adult probation programming.

See here (pdf) for the full report, which has a lot more detail that may interest those in the biz.

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