100,000 Mothers’ 1% Certainty
Parole Texas Constitutional Amendment
Solution to Two Huge
while Improving TDCJ’s Mission and Reentry Categorically
Honorable Legislators of
the Great State of Texas:
Bennett directed the Federal Bureau of Prison (FOB) from 1937 to 1964
during the most formative time in prison reform in world history, and
most of the prison reforms across the country stemmed from Bennett’s
innovations. In chapter one of his seminal autobiography of his prison
directorate, he summarizes the problem of prison:
Society appears unable to plan the progress of correction, because it
makes conflicting and contradictory demands. Society expects men to be
punished severely for their crimes, so that others will be deterred from
committing them. Yet society
also wants men to be rehabilitated while in prison, so they might return
to useful positions in the community.
society wants men to be taught to use liberty wisely while deprived of
The following is not merely on the contribution to the over-costing of
the TDCJ prisons, it addresses two injustices regarding Certainty in
Parole and Staff Experience Access:
here is how, 1) adding 1% of Certainty to the current 100% of
Uncertainty to the freedom of parole eligible offenders;
and 2) Staff Experience Access to over 100,000 years of in-prison
face-to-face experience with
offenders. In addressing
these two injustices together,
these will also concomitantly and simultaneously introduce unprecedented
vitality and management control fostering both positive inmate behavior
and rehabilitation and contributing to the hope in inmates, in their
families, and to the morale of prison staff.
Yes, 100,000 mothers want
certainty, if at least 1% of Certainty among the current 100% of
100,000 Mothers’ Parole Option
Each Individual Prison by nominations from
Department Heads, Supervisors, and Officers in mutual consultation
grants parole to 1% of their Parole Eligible Offenders for five years – herein called
the 100,000 Mothers’ Parole Option.
All about Clarity in
Justice for All Texans
This would free about 1,500 beds each year,
above the current releases, 1% of TDCJ’s 150,000 offenders, and,
ironically is nearly 1% of the of the Board of Pardon and Parole’s (BPP)
110,000+ denials each year.
That saves an additional $10’s of millions with one small law or change
in the constitution. The
rationale is simple: 1) the
injustice of 100% Uncertainty is grave, 2) no one knows the
inmates better than the Prison Staff, and 3) the
no one cares for the inmates
like their mothers and grandmothers.
Give Texas Moms “1% Certainty” via the Prison
Staff’s choice of 1% based on behavior.
If an inmate in a 2,000-man prison knows that the Prison
Staff will be paroling 20 eligible inmates next year, there are
Texas, TDCJ, Justice and Family Values
1. Texas’ Family Values LIFTED.
A constant source of natural human frustration exists
among inmates and their free family members when they can never
be certain about parole.
That lack of certainty on freedom is in many ways unconstitutional.
Furthermore, the recent points system introduced a scintilla of
clarity in the process only, still leaving the actual predictability of
freedom for a parole eligible offender
What is clear is that there has been no progress to close the
distance between knowing the
offender and a detached BPP.
There is no possible way for any BPP member to know the inmate in
a fashion anywhere close to Prison Staffers;
it is a human crime that TDCJ employees who have supervised
a given inmate for the last ten (10) years or more and that
supervision be totally absent
in the parole process. That
is common human
knowledge. Adding 1% of
Certainty would allow HOPE in the inmate and HOPE in the inmate’s family
to flow like a river and affect the inmate’s behavior.
Additionally, this would become a
true resource of up-beat morale for the staff who would become part of –
integral – to an inmate’s freedom.
It has been said, “It takes a Village to raise a child,” and it
about time to use that in prison.
Imagine — the local prison employees
possessing a 1% voice in an inmate’s freedom based upon behavior.
This Village Valuing of Behavior would revolutionize prison and
lift family values. There is
no appreciable argument against it!
2. Security and Inmate Work Ethic.
If an inmate knows that by law and in reality
and in actual practice his
behavior in prison, even his
attitude toward the Prison Staff will directly affect his parole,
such would improve both his productivity and relationships
categorically, in turn, positively impacting facility security, even
how inmates walk to chow.
3. Reduce Recidivism. We
have a problem. The huge
recidivism rate is directly linked to the PBB’s choices, and the BPP are
not decreasing recidivism with their choices;
worse, no fault of themselves, because of the 100% of Uncertainty about
decisions, there will never be
a way to track recidivism effectiveness, much less efficiency.
What use is a point system discretion that cannot be tracked?
That does not improve recidivism?
Can the quality of their discretion be measured outside
the recidivism rate? No!
Whatever talent or paperwork they possess, even each BPP member
would freely admit, none of them are any smarter or any more educated –
they are just men and women like us all.
Yet, the 1% Certainty Model would be tractable
because of the certainty.
Yet the crux is that the esteemed BPP cannot and will never have
a more finely tuned intuition than the Prison Staff regarding an inmate
– that, too, is absolutely certain.
More to the crux, the BPP member almost never has a single hour’s
experience face to face.
With no face-to-face experience, the BPP member’s choice is
nearly totally inhuman.
Mothers’ Option can prove its reduction in recidivism with
clarity, based upon a good relationship and the character that
the inmate himself maintains for years.
4. Cost Near Nothing.
Since most of the TDCJ’s prisons have parole officers staffed on
the unit, there would be little initial cost in identifying the Parole
5. Common Sense Corrects Obvious Malady.
TDCJ staff and inmates face a ubiquitous human malady and
source of nonsense when an inmate trustee serves 120-170% of his time (sum
of flat, good, and work time) and works like a champion for
years but whose parole is set-off and postponed two, three, and four
times. For what reason? – only
God knows the full contents of gray area other than the BPP member’s
written sentence of rationale!
The inmate or his family is not even appraised of the odds
of freedom, not even up to the honor and openness of the Texas lottery
odds of winning. And
Prison Staff – nothing whatsoever, though, as human beings, the staff
has supervised the inmate for years, an inherently inhuman adventure.
Freedom should not be 100% UNCERTAIN;
there SHOULD be at least 1% Certainty decided upon in-prison
behavior. Common Sense
is introduced when an inmate becomes Parole Eligible in a 2,000-man
prison, and 1% will be freed every year, that is a clear chance –
20/2,000 or 1/100 every year – of parole simply because
the Prison Staff says “yes” based upon behavior.
6. Reentry Reality Training Corrects Prime Prison Failure.
An inmate who believes his actions and his prison
relationships actually contribute to his parole release is more likely
to believe the same when in free society, for that is closer to the way
the free world actually works.
Therein, Bennett’s prime failure is addressed:
the prisoner is “taught to use liberty wisely” while being
“deprived of it.” The
only way that Bennett’s prime failure of prison can be addressed
is with 1% Certainty in parole
given by Prison Staff among eligible offenders.
Currently, there is no reality training where 100% of the choice
rests with distant PBB member, who, even with the highest honor cannot
truly know the offender.
The current system demolishes reality training and sows despair,
but the Mother’s Option fosters reality and reaps hope.
7. Appendix 1: Texas Double
Chart 1: PBB 10-Minute Decisions,
I detail the Double Jeopardy that a BPP member commits when encountering
past crimes in parole decisions;
thousands of hours of criminal investigation, arraignment, and
the court drama between prosecutor and defense attorney, and finally the
judge and jury’s decision are in reality
second guessed by an average
of 10 minutes consideration by a BPP member – a super-human
responsibility Texas has unfairly placed in the hands of the BPP.
Hear this – our precious Jury System is too valuable to be set
What a novel insight – the prisoner who
truly tries hard gets a better chance at freedom!
Better chance than the sloth.
The Texas Lottery ought not to be the only thing with clear odds
of winning. The
100,000 Mothers’ Option
of granting 1% of Certainty in Parole to Eligible Offenders by Prison
Staff is valuable to Texas civilization, prison management, inmate
rehabilitation, and most precious of all in facilitating family values –
even smart on crime. When
the distance is shortened between those who decide freedom and who
know the inmate and the
inmates being freed, therein,
truly means Together
If not us, Texans, then who?
If not here, where?
If not now, when?
Most sincerely yours,
Dr. Michael G. Maness ~
Double Jeopardy and 100,000 Texas Mothers for Justice
by Michael Glenn Maness
Not by Intention
Mothers Wonder at Mystery
Front End of Justice System DOES Not Equal Rear End
BPP Fix – Points System Still Dark – and Super Human Tasks!
Leading Up to Double Jeopardy – “Paper” More Important
Double Jeopardy in Parole Needs Help
Chart 1: BPP 10-Minute
This was exceedingly hard to put together, and
became a corollary or auxiliary document in support of the more
straightforward 100,000 Mothers’ Parole Option that I initiated in 2007.
Since then, as best I could, a piece here, a piece there, I have
tried to continue to clarify.
That effort resulted in a revised version posted in March 2013.
It will take some real miracle if this is to
take off, but, it seems to me, the need to clarify this is so very
I came to this not by intention, but as the
result of years of struggle with another dilemma.
After 20 years as senior chaplain of a large prison, as all
staffers inside the gate hear perpetually, one prisoner after another
will say, at their parole time draws near, “I see parole, I hope I make
it” — meaning he will see the unit parole officer to see if the TDCJ
Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) has granted him parole.
For chaplains, this is doubled, as we talk to the family members
and connect the family with the prisoners in death and critical illness.
Therein, we not only hear the prisoner tell his mother (or
family), mostly his mother though, that he is “doing everything he can
to come home”—meaning, I am obeying the rules and trying to be a good
fellow in prison;
the point to be taken deep in the heart here is that the truth of
what the prisoner is saying is only known by the Prison Staff of the prison.
Moreover, chaplains hear the mothers encouraging, cajoling,
begging, and even sometimes scalding the prisoner to “do everything you
can,” “obey the rules,” “do what the officials tell you,” “stay out
trouble,” and of course, “come home, we need you.”
Yes, there are at least 100,000 mothers and grandmothers and
often mother figures (aunts and sisters) of prisoners who want their
sons to do right, and there are more mothers who are friends of the
mothers of prisoners who want the same.
Over 100,000 good citizen Texas mothers and
grandmothers wonder at the mystery of parole, and every one of them hope
their sons will come home as good citizens.
Should freedom by mysterious?
The chances of winning the Texas lottery are published regularly,
even on every single lottery ticket, millions of them. How can winning
the Lottery be figured to greater precision than Texas parole? Why? No
one, not even the governor can figure out when
any Texas inmate will make parole.
In the best of worlds, the 163,575 votes cast by the Texas Board
of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) in their own FY2009 equal an average of
10.1 minutes of consideration per vote (see Chart 1:
BPP 10-Minute Decisions).
If the Governor did call – for a friend of a
friend – and that call influenced one vote over what a BPP member would
have normally done, a kind of moral crime would have taken place.
Lady Justice’s blindfold was jerked up a bit by “politics.”
That in itself is not so bad or truly abhorrent, for the Governor
ought to have some influence.
But if the governor did do such, by the awesome power of his
office, for any prisoner (and not all prisoners), that is not true
justice, especially if the governor did not
personally know the prisoner.
Yet our case is built upon a greater source of influence vastly
closer to the prisoner, even humanly intimate, when one thinks of Prison
Staff knowing a prisoner for
Even the wide margin of percentages between
approvals and denials in all of the BPP’s fiscal year reports among the
twenty officers and commissioners further illustrate with clarity that
there is no clarity or consistency, just a load of decisions made with
super-charged speed, even uncanny speed, if not inhumane speed.
With such arbitrariness and no certain guidelines that anyone can
understand, Lady Justice and the value of freedom take a backseat to a
documented whimsy that confounds the mind.
And over 100,000 good mothers’ hearts hurt, and
for those hearts there is no appeal.
If the absolute obscurity of the process – the darkness itself –
was made public, widely public, even its total absence of even
1% of Certainty, would that help?
Sure it would. But
the reality is that the absolute obscurity and absence of certainty are
nearly state secrets, even protected by law, and purposed to remain as
much a secret process as possible!
Even the purchase of a high-priced high-profile highly successful
lawyer will not insure that mother of a better chance at winning the
Texas lottery of parole freedom.
The huge legal industry kicks Lady Justice in
the shin, and 100,000 mothers are in the dark.
There is a more intelligent and tractable way.
The front end of Texas criminal justice is NOT
very mysterious (neither should the rear end be mysterious).
At the FRONT, one is innocent until proven guilty, and a lengthy
and expensive process insures due process, which can be complicated, but
the verdict and punishment are crystal clear.
No mystery. “Don’t
Mess with Texas”
is designed and marketed to be clear.
Texas as a rule prides
itself in clarity and fairness.
Should the rear end of prison life be as clear?
Of course it should be – should be clearer – but it is not.
Some prisoners work like champs, others loaf along, and some
remain rascally criminals.
Some remain evil, mean and wicked.
There is no amount of paperwork that can truly distinguish the
champ from the wise rascal.
Without changing the parole system itself, not
yet, I have been busy trying to rally support for a novel approach that
used to be an ancient practice.
The only people who true know the prisoners are the Prison Staff.
Allow 1% of Certainty
in authority by the Prison Staff to grant parole to eligible prisoners.
First called the Warden’s Parole Option, and Maness hopes for
popular reasons that the revised 100,000 Mothers’ Parole Option will
I have talked with at least 2,000 mothers in my
20 years as a chaplain, and, inevitably, the hope of coming home arises
in chats over death and critical illnesses.
Same for all chaplains, and often with other staff who talk with
mothers. More than any,
mothers want their prisoner children to be good men, and most of the
mothers respect the job of the state.
The mothers desire their children to avoid trouble
Maness believes that every mother would relish the clarity and
simplicity of even a small amount of certainty to parole, and for
seven-plus years has been advocating for some authority to be given to
each prison’s Prison Staff to determine at least 1% of parole-eligible
prisoners to be set free, based solely upon the prisoner’s behavior.
There is no better way to improve TDCJ’s
At first, this sounds strange to allow the
Prison Staff (department heads, officers, staff) to
make decisions on parole, but
it only sounds strange because of the entrenched apparatus that we call
The good officers and commissioners of the BPP do their best, but
the apparatus itself has been ill, so ill, that from time to time it
takes a literal act of the Texas congress to fix a broken cog in the
gearing. Usually that broken cog only comes to light after repeated
public pressure by advocacy groups that, in themselves, take
years to form and years
more in lobbying before the “parole Leviathan” can be nudged a single
foot forward in clarity, much less certainty, regarding all this.
Recollecting these “fixes” would consume a large book (and
someone needs to write it).
The BPP apparatus is like an old Dodge truck that gets
adjusted and repaired, and
repaired again, but never overhauled.
When people point out in a clear fashion that the truck gets poor
gas mileage and can barely pull its own weight up the hill of justice,
the only thing that the Texas congress can do, it seems, is just push
the truck along and make a new law that puts Duct Tape “fixes” on a
truck lumbering forward.
For instance, one of those recent Duct Tape
“fixes” happened when the Texas legislature
mandated that the BPP come up
with a system that helps explain how the BPP members make decisions.
This is the 20th century, and it took a law to make the BPP
create out of thin air a points system that only vaguely gives a small
hint as to how the BPP may possibly have on the whim of their wisdom leaned toward the
decision they made. Vague,
still, with 100% obscurity to the public and to 100,000 mothers.
I think mothers are important here!
Freedom needs some certainty – a value I
presume all Texans cherish.
Don’t blame the BPP for that – no sir!
It is the law, the governor, and the Texas Constitution that
empowers the BPP, so do NOT blame the BPP for doing what they have been
tasked with doing. Only know
this, the BPP members and commissioners are NOT super human, though, as
we will make abundantly clear, what the law and Texas Constitution has
thus far tasked them with doing – in fuller ramifications – is indeed
SUPER HUMAN, and often – no fault of themselves – all too often inhuman.
Freedom and Lady Justice are more valuable than
The BPP itself was charged with “fixing” itself
in that regard, which is like a doctor operating on himself, even with
Duct Taping his own abdomen.
Along with so many other adjustments, that self-operating adds an
incomprehensible mystery to the whole BPP apparatus that borders on
criminal mischief itself.
Surely, we are not just supposed to “make stuff up” as we go along, and
tell the 100,000 mothers, “Just trust us, we know what we are doing.”
Again, not the good BPP members themselves, but
the “apparatus” has grown to the point that it is choking from its own
weight. And the BPP are
human beings being asked to and even charged into doing super-human
tasks! The BPP is charged
with doing the IMPOSSIBLE!
And when and if the Double Jeopardy is clarified below, then the BPP is
charged by the Texas Constitution with also breaking the law of Double
Jeopardy, that actually has a legal precedent dating
before the state of Texas was
a sparkle in Sam Houston’s eye!
One example is clear from the BBP’s FY2009
report. If my math is
correct, then in a perfect world, the 163,575 votes that BPP gave in
that year turns out be the result of 10.1 minutes of consideration for
each vote. That is, in a
perfect world, where each BPP member was fully conscientious and gave a
perfectly fair assessment and devoted all of their six working hours
each day all year round – and no travel – the most time a member
could give to a prisoner’s
case is ten minutes.
Just ten minutes, that is all, to determine whether a man has met
some vague guidelines on freedom after he has served his court-mandated time for parole.
We will deal with that “court-mandated time” in a moment, but
those figures presume a perfect world, locked in a closet with a
folder—only ten minutes! See
Chart 1: BPP 10-Minute
Decisions, which is public knowledge from their own annual reports.
not a perfect world. We
know the BPP members are educated and that the basic qualifications are
minimal. There is no
requirement that a BPP member need have an advanced degree in anything.
Most do not. Many
come from areas with no legal or criminal justice experience.
The BPP officers are appointed by the governor with good
intentions, and the commissioners are hired by the BPP.
Good citizens given a good job with enormous responsibilities.
None are geniuses, we can assume – can be certain – for if
geniuses, they would not be on the BPP, but in the industry of their
genius making 10x to 100x their salary.
And, be assured, having more fun;
for making 163,575 decisions is NO SMALL effort for any group no
matter how large. But for
twenty persons? – really?
The BPP folks – they admit themselves – are no better than most
of the other good citizens in Texas.
We also know, all of us with certainty, that
thousands upon thousands of Texans qualify and would relish the BPP job,
even covet the job. The
salary and benefits are generous.
Nothing wrong with that (except as we shall detail the
super-human demands, and then, perhaps, they are not getting enough).
We also know and must accept that it is the Governor’s
prerogative to appoint the officers;
there is no surprise that political affiliations play a role in
appointments. In other words, the
BPP officers are just good folks like the rest of us, most of which
simply knew a friend of a friend of one of the Governor’s many
consultants, and – though no one has researched it – perhaps none of the
BPP officers had a personal relationship with the Governor prior to
appointment. Furthermore, the BPP officers do the same as was done for
them, likely, in hiring the twelve BPP commissioners.
What does that mean?
It means the selection of the eight BPP officers is the simplest part of
the entire BPP process, as a process of trust in the governor and his
associates serving Texas.
Therefore, in this
imperfect world, it would be
normal for anyone of us who has to push themselves through hundreds of
folders a month to get tired and—dare I say—simply
run many of the folders
saying, “Yes, yes, no, yes, no, no, yes, no, ad nauseam, ahhummmm, let
me think about this one, then yes, no, no, yes, etc.”
That is HUMAN for such a tedious task, and, sadly, there is no
indication that it is otherwise after decades of concern.
In this imperfect world and presuming the best
of all the BPP officers and commissioners, it is also clear that most of
the 163,575 votes did not even get ten minutes worth of consideration.
The average of one officer was only seven minutes.
Moreover, in the FY2009 report, among its numerous charts, there
was not a single indication of how much time any of the members spent
face-to-face with the prisoner they were considering to release.
Even though part of the job description in the report was to
interview prisoners, there was no indication that any BPP member
actually saw one single prisoner face-to-face.
It is a given – another certainty – that most of the 165,000+
decisions (approved or denied) were made with not even 30 seconds of
face-to-face time with the
How is that justice?
It is super-human demands on our good BPP members, for sure.
While leading up to the Double Jeopardy, know
this. Throughout Texas, the
greatest mystery of all is repeated every day in 100,000 mothers’ minds
and hearts especially, and less frequently repeated in the minds of
others too, including other family members and even TDCJ staff:
how on God’s earth can a BPP member make a good decision without
even seeing the man face to face?
Herein, “paper” has indeed, in fact, been more
important than the “human person” in the BPP member’s decision.
Remember, no fault of themselves!
Ain’t nobody got time for that, to “see” all,
except – hear this clearly – the good Prison Staff who have not only
SEEN, but have essentially lived
day to day and face to face with the prisoner for, in some cases,
DECADES! Denying that
resource is a human crime, corollary to the crime of
solely using a sheet of paper
to determine parole without even 15 seconds face to face.
Has that been made clear enough yet?
Mothers want some certainty and less mystery.
They deserve it too, because as good citizens themselves, many of
them, are just as qualified to be BPP members.
Compounding all of this, and a knocking in the
engine of the apparatus that Maness hopes will get more public
attention, it is a skipping of justice that we know with greater
certainty the chances of a person winning the Texas lottery than we do
with a man’s chance of “winning” parole.
From the prisoner’s and his mother’s perspective, and from Texas’
perspective, should parole ever –
ever – be looked at as “winning” by chance?
Freedom should never be
by chance, but the reality is that
chance is the only thing that makes current sense.
A person (prisoner, family, Texan) ought to know what it takes to
make parole with some
than ten minutes is given for each vote, and likely in too many
cases less than five minutes, Lady Justice gets another kick in the
shin. That is, and
therefore, the old Dodge truck’s rattling gets worse as its whole
mechanical history comes to light.
100,000+ mothers want, deserve, and demand better.
All Texans do.
We value freedom too much to retain such
intractable mystery any longer, to say nothing of the shin kicking of
our precious Lady Justice.
There is more.
For lack of a better term, and perhaps this is
the only term, Double Jeopardy is illegal.
Once convicted and sentenced, one cannot be charged with the same
crime twice. One
conviction-with-sentence is enough justice.
Yet the BPP in its most recent
refinement has clarified how
it has, as an institutional apparatus, being committing Double Jeopardy
for decades, likely from the beginning.
I am surprised every advocacy group has not latched onto this,
and perhaps they will.
how Double Jeopardy goes.
The front end of justice begins with a crime, a victim, evidence,
and due process. Skipping
probation and focusing upon criminals, those who have offenses that lead
to two or more years for a felony, we Texans spend billions dollars and
millions of hours of time.
At the front end – First Step – a single criminal gets thousands and
sometimes a million dollars worth of attention and thousands of hours of
time, from evidence collection, victim bills, insurance claims, police
investigations, arrest, arraignment, grand jury, and the whole drama of
defense and prosecution. In
the Second Step of the front end – the MOST PRECIOUS – a judge and jury
spend many more hours in
court, sometimes days, before a verdict is given.
Then a judge or jury sets punishment and off the criminal goes to
the hoosegow, the penitentiary, the pen, the big house – to prison.
The most precious part of the front end is the Judge and Jury!
the crucial point on the front end, not given much thought today, but as
common as the Texas sunrise—the punishment
I cannot overstate this, and it needs some
drilling. For as soon as we
can drill this properly, every prisoner advocacy group in Texas ought to
come on board. But the most
important group is also the most reticent and often left out of
consideration: the 100,000+
mothers. I say this, because
it was the mothers that brought this issue to my attention, though
indirectly and unconsciously, by virtue of their compassion.
It is rather sad that a prison chaplain is bringing this issue of
Double Jeopardy to light, instead of the legislators and BPP, and not
quite as sad, but better late than never if the advocacy groups will
So let me state this clearly.
Everyone knows that punishment
includes parole in Texas.
When the judge and especially the jury (of
similar qualification as any BPP member) are considering
punishment, they are also considering parole.
The prosecutor under manifold pressures upon his time and “cost”
to the court throughout Texas
and the U.S. makes Plea Bargains as a
common practice that include
parole eligibility in a powerful selling point!
not know this? Parole
eligibility is a factor for ALL, prosecutor, defense, judge, and most
importantly the jury – and every plea bargain in between.
Let’s be clear.
When a judge or jury is deciding upon punishment, they know that
a five-year sentence is five years with the “possibility of parole” in
two years. If the prisoner
does good in prison, he will have a chance of parole, and that is part
of the judge and jury’s consideration. The
thought processes of the human mind here are not hard to discern.
Depending upon hundreds and often
thousands of additional hours of work by dozens of people prior to the
trail, that become evidence for the trail, and then upon hundreds and
sometimes thousands of hours of work during the trail by many people –
how much work is given? The
“cost” of this is often calculated by economists, too, but who has yet
to calculate the more important part?—the time it takes to do all of
these prior to the most
precious part, the judge and jury’s decision.
That time is the
justice system’s heart, most preciously within the mind and heart of the
jury who struggle between “punishment” and “mercy” to weigh in the
“balance of justice” whether to give 2, 5, 10, 20, or 45 years
time-to-serve. And a
good portion of that TIME is rattled around parole eligibility, if even
in a plea bargain and legal drama lawyers so nobly battle.
focus is on a smaller and critical and precious part of our great
free government – the MOST precious part – in that the
judge and jury themselves
spend dozens and sometimes hundreds of hours to render punishment that
in Texas includes parole.
No whim of a dictator for the USA.
No whim or wimp for Texas.
Truly, “Don’t Mess with Texas” is some kind of decisiveness that
we take pride in, implying with great advertising and sharp-looking
Texas State Troopers ready to enforce –
some things are certain in Texas.
How about 1% in parole?
Yet, Lady Justice buckles with another kick to
the shin when Double Jeopardy has been going on for decades and is even
spelled out on the internet at the Texas BPP web site.
The BPP points system that attempts to help to explain how the
BPP members decide the “risk factor” of prisoners is a Double Jeopardy
system at its heart of hearts.
Again, no fault of the good BPP members themselves, for they did
NOT create their board.
Worse, the points system was a methodology that the
legislature forced upon the
BPP by public demand to decrease the hitherto fore absolute
intractability of the mystery of who wins the lottery ticket of freedom
in parole. Prior to the
points system, the decision was solely in the minds of good and rather
innocent BPP members for decades.
Now with the points system, we can see that one
prisoner is a higher risk than another based upon what?
Yes, Double Jeopardy in essence.
Yes, based upon five minutes of consideration of what the
prisoner has already been
tried for, and some other
Jeopardy for decades, lately forced into greater light by the Texas
legislature, as the BPP was forced to “fix” or Duct Taping its own
mystery; their “clarifying”
in their points system is as much a mystery as before, and no real fix
We still have no clarity, no certainty, only
100% uncertainty prior to a BPP decision.
Yet, even today with the points system, we have
only the reason for denial, and still no resolution to the mystery of
how a prisoner will make or earn or be granted parole.
Not the governor or any person in
can figure out how a person is going to make parole or not, not even up
to the clarity that we have in the chances of winning the Texas Lottery.
And the fixing of the entire apparatus is not going to happen in
this article either. What is
so crucial to justice is that we must see that the current BPP is
committing Double Jeopardy.
They are second guessing the judge and jury that spent hundreds (or
thousands) of hours analyzing as part of a sophisticated trail process
(costing billions) that gave a specific punishment that
– and second guessing all within five minutes of consideration –
super-human demands no person should be forced to do.
Let’s clarify more.
When any BPP member uses the crime committed in determining
parole, they commit Double Jeopardy.
Yet, every BPP decision includes not only the crime committed,
but also the how serious the crime was.
At first blush, one might think that normal, and it has been the
norm. The BPP are made up of
us normal folks after all.
But the current apparatus is broken here.
No BPP member has the super-human ability to review
any crime well in ten minutes,
much less go backwards in time ten
or fifteen years and revisit the hundreds of hours of court time
that a judge and jury went through to arrive at the punishment that
The punishment would have been different if
there was no parole in Texas.
Said in another way, a man with a small
criminal history assaults and robs a victim, and the jury spends hours
in trail and is given instructions by a judge.
The judge and jury debate and decide punishment according to the
laws of Texas, and determine the man will serve five years, being
eligible for parole in three years.
That same jury would only sentence the man to three or four years
if no parole was available.
The availability of parole is a crucial part of the punishment by a
jury, and – hear this – the jury NEVER includes ANY of the future BPP
options and NONE of the vast treatment options that come and go like a
sea gulls over the ocean coast.
It is IMPORTANT to note that the judge and – most precious – the
jury never takes into consideration the future BPP process in JUDGMENT.
In the judge and jury’s mind, the verdict is
meant to punish the man for a
time in prison with simple parole options;
if he does good in prison, he can go home on parole.
The clarity at the Front End is not at the Rear End.
There needs to be far more certainty, if Lady
Justice is to stand tall – even 1% Certainty that can be obtained with
Prison Staff choosing, not by suggestion, nor by recommendation, but by
deciding among 100s of prisoners which ones go home.
Indeed, 100,000 mothers agree that their
children needed punishment.
The jury did too, and meted it out with the understanding that if the
prisoner did well in prison, he would not have to serve his whole
sentence. Even the good BPP
will agree: it is not the
BPP’s job to second guess the original jury’s determination.
Yet, that is what the BPP is tasked with doing;
its points system clarifies its own committing of Double
Jeopardy. The BPP are NOT
super-human enough to evaluate ALL the judge and jury looked at
years prior in 10 minutes!
In truth, a harder pill to swallow is this:
any consideration at all of the original crime in determining
parole eligibility is a form of Double Jeopardy.
Worse, the BPP cannot do it!
Worst of all, the BPP were not there in the precious jury’s
shoes. I say precious,
because the focal point and preciousness of our entire legal system is
and ought to be the jury—freedom is a jury’s duty most of all, not the
If we can truly evolve, the BPP will have
challenge enough to evaluate its 165,000 decisions based upon the
prisoner’s in-prison behavior.
Expecting the BPP to evaluate BOTH the original crime, often
decades ago, second guessing the judge and jury is not only impossible,
but even far and away from the task of “parole” itself, meaning in
itself, “release from prison” at the least from good
That is what normal Texas citizens understand, anyway, and 100,000 mothers most
of all. But looking back at
the crime is more complicated than looking at the in-prison conduct, and
even after all – to do both and look back at the crime in Double
Jeopardy AND to consider in-prison behavior AND do all WITHOUT even a
face-to-face encounter of five minutes – that is too super-human for any
When a man reaches his parole eligibility, the
only consideration that should go into the five or ten minutes is
solely how he has spent his time in prison.
Nothing of his crime before he was sentenced should play a role
in the BPP’s decision, because any such consideration performs Double
Jeopardy and cheapens the precious jury determination.
By God’s witness, such Double Jeopardy should
not take place within five minutes.
Such BPP decisions in each of the 163,575 votes disrespect the
original judge and jury’s punishment in a big way.
That cheapens our entire justice system.
One method – ideally – would be for the BPP to
make determinations on a case folder based solely on how the inmate
acted in prison, with absolutely no knowledge of his original crime.
Lady Justice would be truly blind there, and no offense to the
original judge or jury would take place.
Whatever, we must respect and even protect the original judge and
jury’s verdict on punishment that
includes parole. If a
man did good in prison, he would go free;
if he was bad, he would stay in prison.
That is a bit simpler and does not take into consideration some
rehabilitation options. But
we must reconsider the apparatus.
justice in parole must include
the Prison Staff in a definitive
and decisive way in parole
based upon their huge irreplaceable experience of prisoner behavior!
As mentioned, when a prisoners
knows his actions in prison
affect his release, reality and more is congruent, and so much more –
revolution in prison effectiveness is on the horizon.
The entire apparatus needs an overhaul, and
that is another subject altogether.
Without junking the old Dodge truck, or even
affecting the current BPP apparatus, there is a way to bring alongside
the truck a new vehicle of justice that will accomplish the BPP mission
with little clutter and smog.
That is, with no Double Jeopardy and with much more time to
consider the prisoner’s person, each Prison Staff in each facility in
TDCJ has literally 500 to 1,000 years of correctional experience.
When a prisoner has spent ten years in a single prison, literally
hundreds of employees have observed the prisoner for those ten years.
That is a resource too rich to fail to utilize.
We must utilize it.
By accessing Prison Staff and decreasing Double
Jeopardy, we advance justice and add value to our cherished adjudication
valuing to high heaven the original judge and jury’s hard-wrought
verdict and punishment. We
must value the jury’s decision that included parole in Texas.
Most sincerely yours,
Dr. Michael G. Maness ~
Chart 1: BPP 10-Minute
^ Click to See
BPP FY2009 FULL Report
BPP FY2009 FULL Report alternative site
published as “Warden’s Parole Option” in 2-15-2007; presented
again to the 82nd Legislature, House Committee on Corrections
and others on 4-13-11, with attached data on Board of Pardons
and Paroles in relation to HB 3365/3340 first sponsored by Rep.
James White, herein, revised March 30, 2013.
James V. Bennett, I Chose Prison (NY: Alfred A. Knopf,
1970; 1st Edition): 11.
As hard as that was, where is the history of that decision? Has
anyone been tracking it? The esteemed BPP members don’t have the
time to track it.