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Prison Population Woes

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As inmate populations continue to rise in Texas, state officials are considering using more probationary sentences instead of building new prisons.

But Arlene Parchman, Director of Community Supervision and Corrections says the current probation system already suffers from its own problems.

"We implement what's called progressive sanctions. So when offenders violate their condition, we take care of them immediately. We don't wait til its time for them to go to prison. That we reduce case loads so our officers can address issues that need to be addressed. Make sure implementing evidence based practices-use the research, do the programs that need to be done to help keep people out of prison," says Parchman.

The biggest problem is caseloads carried by probation supervisors are already too high. Also, many probationers violate their requirements and go to prison anyway. These requirements can range from a positive drug test to missing a mandatory meeting. Parchman believes they can divert some of those violators if they had the proper funding.

"Put more of them on specific case load directly related to problems that they have. They will be seeing our officers more, see us more in the community, go to a lot more treatments than they've been to before. We have to eliminate their thinking errors to keep them out of prison."

The state probation system is asking for $55 million to help fund the necessary resources to kill two birds with one stone...help alleviate overcrowding in the prisons and improve the probation system.