From the President
I hope you all have settled into the New Year and have your days straight. I feel certain everyone is thinking of projects they would like to accomplish or implement this coming budget year.
This is the time to start a new calendar and plan for your continuing education. Commissioners and judges need to receive at least 16 hours of continuing education for each 12-month reporting period. Commissioners may carry over eight surplus hours from the prior reporting period. New county judges require 30 hours credit during the first year of office. Look in the back of County Progress for a complete listing of the 2010 conference lineup.
I read recently about decreases in jail populations. I know our inmate population goes down this time of year and then builds up quickly in the winter months. I know some states have reduced their populations through leniency on their charges or changing from a felony to a misdemeanor charge. Texas is the clubhouse leader in executions in the United States. I wonder if the pendulum is swinging to save money on our incarcerated people or if we are going toward softness on crime.
Several years ago the big push was to develop various inmate rehabilitation programs. We tried that for a couple of years; the State of Texas put significant money into these programs for rehab and then did a study to see if they were working. The study revealed that the best way to deal with recidivism in our jails is to work the inmates while they are in jail. I still believe that is the best way to deal with the problem: Teach a trade, make them watch educational television, and work with employers to hire them when they are released. If nothing else, we can set up a jail factory where inmates can learn a trade and produce goods much like the prison system.
In our newspaper this week there was a column devoted to some parents who raised their son under strict discipline practices, and it got me thinking how I was raised. I bet many of you were raised the same way with very strict parents. My mother did not spare the rod, and I am thankful for that now. I think if we had more parents like that, our jail population would probably be smaller. I wonder what has happened to discipline at home and in school. I don’t ever remember my daddy spanking me, but he never had a chance. I must apologize for reminiscing in my column this month, but this time of year I think a great deal about the past, what I can learn from it, and what is important to me.
Many of us have opponents this election cycle, and our thoughts are on getting through the election while doing our duties as elected officials. We have our census coming up, which means redistricting, and as always the Legislature is looming out there. I look forward to seeing each of you in the near future. Again, please make your plans to attend one of the educational conferences.
P.S. If I ever got put in jail when I was a kid, my only hope was that they locked me up good to keep my mother from getting her hands on me!