Fewer Juvenile Offenders Locked Up In Texas

A campaign which started as a cost-saving measure to close prisons has possibly re-shaped the way many people view the juvenile justice system.

The roots of Texas’ Right on Crime initiative go back to 2007, when lawmakers had to make a decision regarding a 17,000-bed prison expansion. Looking for a way to avoid paying the $2 billion price tag, the legislature decided to change the punishment model by introducing mandatory probation for all adult and juvenile offenders charged with possession of a controlled substance under one gram. Rather wisely, lawmakers increased funding for county probation departments, so they could handle the additional caseload.

Not coincidentally, the number of incarcerated juvenile offenders has plummeted by nearly 53 percent. At the same time, restitution payments have increased dramatically. In 2008, probationers paid over $40 million in restitution to their alleged victims; prisoners paid about $500,000.

Conditions of Probation

Sometimes termed “deferred prosecution,” The exact nature of the conditions often vary case by case. But juvenile offenders and their families in Denton County can count on seeing some common conditions, such as:

  • Curfew: The probation officer sets the curfew in each case, but it is generally sometime around 10:00 p.m. If accompanied by a parent or guardian the PO may sometimes overlook the violation, but don’t count on it.
  • Report: Of all the revocation cases filed in court, a majority of them allege a failure to make monthly meetings. One or two missed meetings, especially if they are not consecutive, is usually not a big problem. But miss more than that, or miss two or three in a row, and you may have to explain things to the judge.
  • Fees: In addition to a monthly monitoring fee, which is usually about $20, the probationer must pay restitution, court costs, counselling costs, court-appointed attorney’s fees and pretty much anything else that the judge says to pay.
  • Friends: The language is usually a bit vague, but offenders should make it a point to find new places to hang out and new people to associate with.

Other common terms include community service, drug and alcohol testing and attendance at court-ordered counselling and therapy sessions.

ISP

Violent and repeat offenders may be placed on Intensive Supervision Probation. Instead of monthly meetings, there may be bimonthly or even weekly meetings. There is also much less tolerance for rule-breaking; even a minor infraction or two may result in a motion to revoke.

Contact our office for a free consultation with an attorney who helps you in all phases of the case, from start to finish.