Parole Letter – June, 2014

NEW LAWS:  For decades, there have been 18 Parole Board Members in the state of Texas.  In my last letter, I notified you that the Legislature had appropriated funds for a new Parole Board Office in Austin, Texas.  I verified this during a discussion with Ms. Rissie Owens, the Presiding Officer of the Parole Board.  It took some time for the Governor to appoint the two new Commissioners, but as of today’s date there is a new Parole Board Office in Austin consisting of Rissie Owens, Troy G. Fox and Elvis Hightower.  Troy G. Fox was previously a Commissioner at the Gatesville Board. His education consists of a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Corrections from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas.  His background consists of over 35-years experience in corrections and criminal justice in positions ranging from probation officer to various management positions with TDCJ-Parole Division and the Board of Pardons and Paroles.  Mr. Elvis Hightower was also relocated from the Gatesville Board to the new Austin Board Office. His education consists of a Bachelors Degree from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas. His background consists of 11-years experience as a prison warden.

The Governor also appointed two new Parole Board Commissioners to the Gatesville Board:  Lee Ann Eck-Massingill, who has a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Corrections and a Minor in Psychology from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.  Her background consists of 25-years in the criminal justice arena.  Also appointed to the Gatesville Board is Mr. Roel Tejada who has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Justice Administration from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas. His background consists of criminal justice experience in both juvenile and adult systems with an emphasis on Substance Abuse, Special Needs and Domestic Violence.

Due to the creation of the new Austin Parole Board Office, there was a realignment of the various regions and units with some being placed under the new board. The Stevenson Unit was under the San Antonio Board has moved to the Austin Board.  The Bartlett Unit, Halbert Unit, Lockhart Work Facility, Lockhart Private Unit, Travis Co. Jail, and Travis State Jail Unit were moved from the Gatesville Board to the Austin Parole Board. All parole applications from inmates from these units will be voted on by the Austin Parole Board.  Generally, when a new Parole Board Member begins voting, they have a tendency to vote very conservatively. Should that occur, it will probably affect the Gatesville Board’s statistics since Mr. Fox and Mr. Hightower were there for a number of years.

Inmates are writing to me complaining about the heat and mosquitoes they are experiencing in prison and asking about the lawsuit filed by the guards who are also complaining about the conditions during the summer, wanting to know when will this affect TDCJ.  At best, it will be years before there is an opinion from some court. This case has not even been set for trial.  Once there is a decision at the trial level that decision will most likely  be appealed by the losing side  through the State Court system, then through the Federal Court system, and it could go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.  Should this case go through the normal trial and appellate procedures, expect at least 5 to 6 years before any changes will occur and TDCJ does something about the heat, that is if TDCJ should lose and be required to correct the present situation. If you are coming up for parole and do not want to sweat through another hot miserable summer or numerous more hot miserable summers, hire a good parole attorney to present evidence to the Board and convince them to release you to parole.

The overall release rate has not changed drastically since my last letter.  As of March 2014 the overall release rate is 35.67% which means approximately 65% of inmates are being denied parole at present. The new Parole Board Members’ voting records have not been calculated as of the posted March 2014 statistics I recently received.  I anticipate it will be approximately 3 or 4 months before there are any new statistics regarding how the new Parole Board Members are voting.  Upon receiving this information, I will place it on my web page and include it in my next letter.

 

RUMORS:  (1)There is a rumor circulating among the inmates that TDCJ is releasing more inmates than last year. This is FALSE.  There are 150,549 inmates in the Texas Prison System as of April 2014 which is about 200 less inmates in prison than in 2013, which is statistically a rounding off error.  (2) TDCJ is full and the Parole Board must release inmates because of a Federal Court Order. This is FALSE.  There is no such Order and the prison system has 12,000 empty beds.  There is no need to release any inmate because of overcrowding.  In fact, the Board is under no pressure to reduce the prison population.  Now more than ever, inmates are being released because the Parole Board believes the inmate will get his life together, not because of any need to reduce the prison population.

There is the beginning of a discussion among politicians in the United States about the number of people in prison. Despite a recent dip, the incarceration rate in the United States has almost quadrupled since the 1960’s and  the United States now has far more people in prison as a share of the population than any other developed country. As of 2013 the United States had 710 people incarcerated per 100,000 population followed by China with 266 people incarcerated per 100,000. The United States has less than 5% of the worlds population, but we warehouse 25% of the worlds incarcerated population.  All of this is costing taxpayers money in a time when budgets are under sever pressure; however, not so in the State of Texas due to the recent oil boom.  We currently have a 3 billion dollar surplus. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Texas Legislature beginning in January 2015 since the extremely conservative wing of the Republican Party won most of the Republican nominations in the primary.  In Texas no Democrat has won a state wide office in over 16-years.  I wonder if Texas will now revert back to keeping inmates in prison longer now that the conservative wing is in power?

Two other individuals and I wrote a book and believe it or not, it was published!   As an attorney representing inmates before the Parole Board and citizens accused in criminal courts across the state of Texas and the United States in Federal court, I have always had to analyze and interpret  statistics, read the law, policy changes, and decisions from appellate courts and try to predict the future policy or law that may be occurring to try to protect my clients interests.  My fellow co-authors and I, one who is also an attorney and the other a certified economic developer, have combined our talents to predict what will probably be confronting everyone, including inmates, in the short-term and mid-term future as far as the penal system, jobs that will be disappearing because of the coming advent of robotics displacing factory workers and driverless cars replacing truck drivers and taxi drivers in the very near future.  If you are interested in purchasing this book, please do not write me to request a copy as I cannot send it to you in prison, but your family can order it and have it mailed directly from Barnes & Nobel or Amazon.com. It was brought to my attention by one of the recipients of this letter I had forgotten to inform anyone who may be interested in purchasing my book the name of my book. My apologies.  It is called Pardon the Disruption: The Future You Never Saw Coming.  In the book we predicted driverless cars would begin to appear around 2020.  We were wrong!  Google is having 100 driverless automobiles being built presently without a steering wheel, brake peddle, gas peddle or windshield wipers since no human will be in the car except as a passenger. The automobiles will pick up and deliver the passenger based solely on the address requested by the passenger and without any human to step in if there is a problem because Google has proven in the first generation of driverless automobiles the human only makes matters worse because of our slow reaction time.  Their  present first generation of driverless cars have gone over 700,000 miles without an accident, traffic ticket or violating any traffic laws.  I wonder what the 2nd generation of driverless automobiles will achieve?

PACIFICA RADIO “THE PRISON SHOW” APPEARANCE:  I have been asked by inmates who could not and cannot receive the radio broadcast to summarize my interview by the host of the Prison Show when I appeared a month ago. One of the questions I was asked was to explain what I do to convince the Parole Board to release an inmate by one of the hosts of the show. I pointed out the most important thing is the individual inmate and what he/she does in prison. Joining or associating with known prison gang members or joining a prison gang, acquiring major disciplinary cases, or being placed in administrative segregation is the best way to assure the Parole Board will deny parole unless I can convince the Board there is some underlying reason for the behavior.  Next, the job of any parole attorney is to accurately evaluate the facts of the crime(s) that have placed the individual in prison as well as any past criminal history. Simply wishing the facts of the crime to disappear is not a good method of dealing with the Parole Board.  Analyze the criminal behavior and try to understand how each Parole Board Member looks at my client’s life history, criminal history and facts of the individual applying for parole is extremely important .  I try to assist the inmate in realizing the behavioral changes he/she should engage in towards gaining rehabilitation such as taking courses which will deal with the underlying causes of his/her criminal activity.  For example, an individual who has a history of substance abuse arrests and convictions, should participate in substance abuse programs rather than enrolling in college to acquire a favorable decision.

Since the Parole Board Members rarely, if ever, actually talk to an inmate and the inmate will not be brought to a Parole Board Office to talk to a Board Member, my client and I must work on preparing strong letters to the Board explaining why he/she deserves to be considered for parole.  Everything is considered by the Parole Board and I must evaluate the entirety of a person’s life, trying to show why that person strayed from his/her moral character, or reflect what interfered with that individual and forced him/her down a path that led to prison.  I then reveal what has developed that makes my client different from the person he/she once was when he/she came to prison. One of my parole packages usually runs approximately 30 to 40 pages and I attempt to anticipate every question the Parole Board Member might have and to  answer those questions within the parole package, or I  reemphasize or address it during my Attorney Appearance with the Parole Board as I argue and explain why the my client should be granted parole.

The most valuable thing I have as a Parole Board Attorney is my credibility; therefore, I must be a able to answer any question a Parole Board Member may ask.  If I answer one of the Parole Board Member’s  questions falsely, or if I cannot answer the question, then why should the Parole Board Member believe I am correct in assessing my client’s ability to live amongst society and follow the rules if released?  All of this takes a lot of investigating, analyzing of the evidence accumulated, thinking about how to explain an inmate’s criminal behavior, working with the client and the family, putting together a compelling story in 30 or 40 pages, and then presenting all of the evidence and information in a cohesive enlightening presentation that entertains and persuades a Parole Board Member to set aside his/her skepticism and risk placing someone with a history of bad decisions back into society. A Parole Board Member is afraid of  receiving  a telephone call from some television or newspaper reporter wanting to know why an inmate was released on parole before that individual served out his/her entire sentence, and now that individual has committed some sort of horrible crime. If I can convince the Parole Board Members with the evidence I have placed in the parole package and successfully argued in my client’s behalf during the attorney appearance that the Parole Board Member will not receive that dreaded telephone call from some reporter, my client has a very good chance of being released from prison. This was most of what the host and I discussed on the radio that night.

 

***MY ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION & WHY I MUST BE HIRED A LONG TIME BEFORE THE ELIGIBILITY DATE I CONTINUE TO HAVE TO REFUSE CASES BECAUSE THE FAMILY OR LOVE ONES CALL AFTER THE INMATE HAS GONE INTO REVIEW:***  Every inmate is eventually going to be reviewed by the Board.  If you want to hire me, I must have time to perform my job.  I must be hired a long time before the inmates eligibility date so I can do what needs to be done such as  help prepare an inmate to be a good candidate for release to parole, gather the needed information, prepare the written documentation to be submitted to the Board, and argue in behalf of my client before the Board if granted an appearance. All of this needs to be done so I can present this information to the Parole Board before the procedural hurdles and time-lines stop the evidence from being accepted by the Board. You should hire me before you go into to review.  Please remember, the Parole Board can receive your file at least 60-days prior to your eligibility date and upon receiving the file vote on your application for parole.  A parole package must be on file within the Board’s time line. I do NOT file a 3-page letter asking for my client’s parole with an attached support letter and employment letter and call it a parole package.  I conduct a thorough investigation, review the information, prepare a parole package that can run 30-40 pages long and argue to the first voting member the evidence and information I have compiled.  All of this takes time!!

 

TIME PAYMENT PLAN: If you decide to hire me and do so well in advance of your eligibility date, I can design a time payment plan for your family or loved ones, but I must be paid in full before I submit the parole package or request an appearance before the Parole Board, which is normally submitted 4-months prior to the parole review date.  The time payment plan has been very helpful to many of my clients who have limited financial resources and thereby allowed them to hire me without causing them financial distress because they have hired me many months or even years in advance. If you wait until the last minute, the entire fee is going to be due immediately.

 

CREDIT CARDS: We now accept credit cards.