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May 22, 2006

Another disturbing facet of Texas justice

Thanks to this tip from Grits for Breakfast, we can hear about another ugly facet of Texas justice from this article discussing the state's parole system.  The article, entitled "Parole system shrouds frauds: Poor enforcement of disclosure law hides 'consultants' who rip off inmates, families," is focused mostly on fraud within a secretive parole system.  Here are a few notable passages:

The enigmatic process that determines which Texas prison inmates should be set free on parole has long been prone to eruptions of scandal and corruption.  Shrouded in secrecy and buffeted by politics, the system is largely ignored by the public until it boils over and brings down a governor or spawns criminal charges....  [A]n Austin American-Statesman analysis shows that state parole officials appear to have little control over the network of attorneys — and hucksters — who ply the secret byways of the parole process trying to affect which murderers, rapists, drug dealers or embezzlers get out of jail early....

The Board of Pardons and Paroles — its seven members appointed by the governor — and 12 parole commissioners hired by the board considered more than 70,000 of the state's 148,000 inmates for parole in fiscal year 2005 and granted parole to 19,582 — just under 28 percent. Under state law, every scrap of paper filed and every record of parole deliberations save for the final vote is secret, so there is no way to know how decisions are made.

Given the enormous flow of cases, board members may spend less than a minute considering each one when they deliberate individually, in offices around the state.  So many inmates, or their families, hire consultants, who claim a higher success rate for their clients than inmates navigating the process by themselves.  The consultants file briefs or argue before the board.... Parole consulting is a tight-knit business where it is not unusual for officials to switch sides, from making decisions to trying to influence them.

May 22, 2006 at 02:22 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I am a 49 yr old nurse, have a friend in TCJS,and am disgusted with our judicial system in Texas,legislating judges,absolute deceptive practice within the parole board secretive system and the lie of "time of for goob behavior"

Posted by: vmousley | Jun 24, 2007 4:35:43 AM

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