A Jeffersonian In East Texas

January 10, 2008

“Grits” Blogger Comments On Judge Clark’s Statements

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajeffersonian @ 2:54 am
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The following post came after seeing the “Grits For Breakfast” post on the remarks found on this blog. These comments were also found on several other criminal justice related blogs, and the whole thing kind of caught me by surprise.

See what you miss when you don’t pay attention? I have been pretty busy lately, and haven’t paid a lot of attention to this blog. Sorry folks, but you gotta make a living. Every time I turn my back on this thing for a few days, something else happens.

I did a search today for “Smith County Jail” on Google, and clicked on the first thing that had anything related to the jail that wasn’t something from the county, and it was an article in “Grits For Breakfast” concerning Judge Clarks comments on this blog. See what you miss when you don’t pay attention? I thought I would include an excerpt and the link so you can read it in full:

“Use of county jail by Smith County for child support scofflaws contributes to overincarceration

Smith County District Judge Carole Clark writes in to the blog Smith County: Tell the Truth to explain under what circumstances the county incarcerates probationers for non-payment of child support, a practice the county began in 2002. The optional program puts child support scofflaws on a “civil” probation that uses the county jail to enforce payments…

I commend Judge Clark for explaining the program to a local blog, and recognize the good intentions behind the use of the county jail in this fashion – but they are the type of intentions with which the road to hell is paved, as these offenders have become a significant contributor to local jail overcrowding. Now that the AIC is in place (it wasn’t when the program started), it should be the first-line sentence for these offenders instead of requiring “get attention” jail time. And given the cost of incarceration, it would behoove the county to create public works jobs, WPA style, compared to the cost of incarcerating those same folks.

This is a great example of how much of the overincarceration in Smith and other counties is mostly volitional, based on choices made by elected officials, not on population increases or big-picture demographics.”

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