Thursday, February 19, 2009

TDCJ Rehab Programs Working

Report: Prison rehab programs working
Today, February 19, 2009, 3 hours ago | Mike Ward
Texas’ prison population has stopped growing for the time being, thanks in part to a controversial changes in corrections policy two years ago that ballooned funding for rehabilitation programs, new statistics indicate.

That means Texas will not have to consider building new prisons that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, at a time when the economic collapse is pinching the state budget, officials said today.

”We put 6,000 treatment beds on line in the past two years … and this is the initial result: Just what we expected,” said Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, who co-authored legislation mandating the greatly-expanded treatment programs in 2007.

Echoing sentiments from colleagues, Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said the statistics show “a dramatic turnaround.”

Today’s Legislative Budget Board testimony to the budget-writing Senate Finance Committee marked the first public report card on the new programs, which two years ago were championed by corrections advocates as a step forward and opposed by some prosecutors and police groups as too soft on crime.

“Crime is down, the programs are working,” said Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice what operates the 112-prison system. “It’s been proven before that these types of programs have an impact on recidivism, so these new numbers are no surprise.”

Even so, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley while he thinks some of the reforms have proven beneficial, such as expanded drug-treatment slots, he cautioned against reading too much into the new statistics.

“I would be very skeptical from making a connection between the numbers and legislation that passed two years ago, especially if you look back at at the LBB numbers — their predictions weren’t particularly accurate,” he said. “I would agree that the system does seem stable right now. The parole rate in the last five years has been very stable.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

police brutality on man with schizophrenia

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
police brutality on man with schizophrenia

From the Galveston County Daily News:

Watch the dashcam video.
Man acquitted of resisting arrest charges

By Chris Paschenko
The Daily News
Published February 10, 2009

SANTA FE — A man who accuses two Santa Fe police officers of using excessive force was acquitted Monday of a resisting arrest charge.

Meanwhile, interim Police Chief Kenneth Campbell said he would meet with the city’s attorney to determine whether the police department should ask an outside agency to probe the matter.

Sergio Robles was walking down the middle of state Highway 6 on Aug. 21, 2006, when officers Eric Bruss and John Gates approached him.

Robles’ father had died three days earlier and Robles had not been taking medication he needs to control schizophrenia, his attorney, Kelly W. Case, said.

Dashboard cameras in two patrol cars recorded the encounter, one caught only video and one only audio of their encounter. The defense didn’t receive the tapes for more than a year, said Robles’ attorney, Kelly W. Case.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Robles accuses the officers of throwing him to the ground, yelling at him, punching and sitting on him.

The lawsuit is slated for trial this summer.

One officer threatened to kill Robles if he reached for the officer’s gun, and they repeatedly told Robles to, “stop resisting,” the lawsuit states.

Robles can be heard on the audio tape claiming he’s not resisting.

In discussing the incident on tape, one officer said he pulled in front of Robles, jumped out, told him to go to the front of the car and then it was, “on like Donkey Kong after that, and I wasn’t holding back,” the lawsuit states.

Police charged Robles with two counts of felony assault of a police officer, but the district attorney’s office reduced the charges to misdemeanor resisting arrest after viewing the tapes, Case said.

“It was as if these guys were at Gitmo (Guantanamo) Bay and were allowed to torture somebody,” Case said.

Robles, with his hands cuffed behind him, sat at the police booking room for five hours without water or medical care, Case said.

“We had statements from Bruss who told a sergeant, ‘Look at the guy’s face. (It’s) f----- up bad. I can’t put him in the cell. I think he’s going to die,’” Case said.

Robles lost consciousness and vomited during the ordeal.

Campbell said the city didn’t investigate the matter previously because a complaint was never filed against the officers.

“Clearly this is not the outcome we’d hoped for, but there is a pending lawsuit, which limits anything I can say,” Campbell said.

Robles’ resisting arrest trial in Judge Mary Crapitto’s County Court No. 1 began Feb. 3 and concluded Monday. The trial was delayed by the officers’ inability to remember facts of the case, Case said.

Bruss told defense attorneys 91 times that he didn’t recall facts of the case, Case said. Gates told the defense he didn’t know or couldn’t recall facts of the case 51 times, Case said.

The defense team had to refresh the officers’ recollection through evidence submitted at trial, Case said.

“It was a complete stonewall job,” Case said. “I’ve never seen such a pitiful job of preparation in my life.”

Robles’ lawsuit also names the city of Santa Fe for negligence for hiring both officers, who have since been promoted to sergeants, Case said.

It is unclear whether the independent civilian police review board is probing the matter.