Probation Programs Could Help Solve the Overcrowding Issue

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The state is asking for $55 million to help fund the necessary resources to help alleviate overcrowding in prisons and improve the probation system.

Mike Viesca, with Texas Department of Criminal Justice says the money would allow for more than 300 probation officers to be hired statewide, hoping to reduce some of the caseload.

"Another part of the money would be used to create options for judges to send offenders who violate their probation. And by that I mean technical violations, maybe they failed to report or flunked a urinalysis test," says Viesca.

Arlene Parchman, Director of Community Supervision and Corrections says the current probation system already suffers from its own problems and believes with the proper funding, they can divert some of those violators.

"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," says Parchman.

The state prison population is currently at 150,000 plus and that number changes everyday.

One of the new programs the state prison system is looking into is one that would send probation violators to a residential treatment bed facility. Judges would have the option to send these offenders somewhere else rather than directly to prison.

"Population is one of those dynamic things you can't really ever know what the numbers are gonna be from one day to the next. Because you have people leaving and coming in and that kind of thing is something we monitor everyday very closely," says Viesca.

Lawmakers thought the prisons would need additional space this month. Viesca says it’s really hard to predict, but if there is a need for additional space, the state prison has the information they need to do that.