Monday, May 23, 2011

Stuffed to the gills

Forget about all that 6th Amendment nonsense about the right to counsel, Harris County has decided that's not nearly so important as cramming as many pre-trial detainees into the Harris County Jail in order to coerce guilty pleas.

From: Armand, Stephanie (DCA)
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 2:50 PM
To: DC Criminal Coordinators (DCA)
Cc: DeLeon, Sisto (HCSO)
Subject: Contractual Logistics Transfers
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 2:50 PMTo: DC Criminal Coordinators (DCA)Cc: DeLeon, Sisto (HCSO)Subject: Contractual Logistics Transfers 
Good afternoon,   Due to jail overcrowding, pre-trial inmates with a future date of 35 days or over are transferred to outlying jail facilities in Newton and LaSalle County.      The inmates will be returned to Harris County Jail, two weeks prior to the setting in the court.     Video Conferences are available at both of these facilities to allow the defense attorney to visit with his/her client.         Defense attorneys may contact one of the following individuals to arrange the video conference: Lt. J.D. Clay @ 713-755-8434 or 713-755-8425 Sgts. C.D. Minshew or F. Dlouhy at 713-755-8420 Or Deputy Station at 713-755-1188 or 713-755-1189   Please convey this contact information to the defense attorneys.    This information is also available on the Coordinator’s Resource Webpage under Contractual Logistics Transfer Procedures.       Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter.
Stephanie Armand Business Process Manager Administrative Offices of the District Courts 713-755-5704

Keep in mind that we aren't talking about people who have been found guilty of anything. These are the folks that are supposedly innocent unless proven guilty. These are the folks who are unable to post bond. These are the folks that most people don't give a rat's ass about.

But they're being transported all over the state because Harris County refuses to do anything to address the underlying problem of jail overcrowding -- punitive bonds.

And then there's HB 1173 that would allow counties with populations over 3 million people to extend the time they can hold a suspect without a probable cause hearing from 24 to 36 hours. That's just what we need here in Houston -- there's not enough room at the inn as it is and now we're going to allow the state to hold a citizen in jail an additional 12 hours.

Of course, if it's a bad bill related to criminal justice you know it must be sponsored by Sen. Joan Huffman. Interestingly enough, the fiscal analysis indicates that there should be no additional cost to the state (understood) or to local government (?). Just how many pretrial detainees are being transferred out of the county to make room for the new blood over on Baker Street?

Here's an idea for our legislators in Austin -- how about mandating the issuance of citations for Class B possession of marijuana cases? Confiscate the contraband, issue a citation with a promise to appear and go on about your business. It's going to be cheaper than shipping detainees out of the county and it might just allow Harris County to take care of its business when it comes to holding probable cause hearings within 24 hours.

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