Newspaper clipping headlined, "Clements warns board to keep prisons open," September 29, 1982
Newspaper clipping headlined, "Clements warns board to keep prisons open," by Ann Arnold, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 29, 1982, regarding Governor William P. Clements, Jr.'s response to the prison overcrowding crisis.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Texas. Board of CorrectionsClements, William P., 1917-2011Texas. Board of Pardons and ParolesEstelle, Ward James, Jr.
"Texas Governor Term 1, 1979-1982"
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Texas A&M University
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives
"Governor William P. Clements, Jr. Official State Papers, 1st Term, 1979-1983"
PR Press Office | 1st term
Texas State library and archives commission
Criminal Justice Reform
Clements Texas Papers
1 2A 1982 FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM II WEDNESDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 29, 1982 Clements warns board r to keep prisons open By ANN ARNOLD Star-Telegram Austin Bureau AUSTIN — Gov. Bill Clements, worried by a drop in paroles and sharp increase in convictions. said Tuesday that he has warned the state Board of Corrections not to react to a predicted over- crowding crisis by closing prison doors. Prison officials said the prison population has grown by at least 800 inmates a month for the past two months, and prisons will be at capacity by Nov. 1 unless paroles are stepped up or admis- sions curtailed. Prison population was 35.175 on Monday-- up more than 2,000 since May 10, when overcrowd- ing forced authorities to stop accepting inmates. A construction program and stepped-up paroles eased that crisis, but authorities now indicate that overcrowding is again reaching the breaking point. "The very real possibility of controlled admis- sions again looms in front of us," said prison spokesman Rick Hartley. "But under no circum- stances will the doors be closed. We are monitor- ing it on a weekly basis." Clements told the Board of Corrections that it must avoid a shutdown. "We cannot send a message to the criminal element in our state that our system is incapable of dealing with their anti-social behavior," Clements said. Clements indicated that he had urged the Board of Pardons and Paroles to push for stepped-up releases of convicts. The number of convicts recommended for parole dropped from 781 in June to only 440 in August and a similarly low number in September. The governor's office blamed vacations for the slowdown, but the agency's executive director said the drop was the result of the mass releases earlier this year under the mandatory supervi- sion program. To help ease overcrowding in May, the parole board stepped up its eligibility timeta- ble for reviewing inmates' cases. "We predicted back in May and June when 1.200 were released on mandatory supervision that we were borrowing from the future," said John Byrd, the board's executive director. Byrd said parole officials hope to increase their release recommendations to between 1,000 and 1,200 a month in October and the remaining months of the year. Clements to seek tougher DWI laws "Even if our paroles were back up to normal, the Texas Department of Corrections is obvious- ly experiencing some record high admission fig- ures," Byrd said. "The parole board cannot con- tinually be the release valve for the penitentiary system. We have to have the protection of the public uppermost in our minds." Prison officials said that the sharp increase in admissions combined with the decline in paroles raised the inmate population by 1,112 during the past month. Hartley said the gain in prison population probably will have to be cut in half to avoid admission restrictions. About 1,700 prison beds will be added next year. T. Louis Austin of Dallas, corrections board chairman, said he does not see any immediate need to reimpose the quota system. "I know the bind that the sheriffs are in and we're not going to put them in that bind," Austin said. Austin said authorities will have no choice but to restrict inmate admissions if prison population exceeds the limits set in federal court orders. "We don't control how many they send us and we don't control how many they take away," Austin said. "I just don't happen to think it (the overcrowding crisis) will be in November." Officials said prison Director W.J. Estelle could reimpose quotas in November without ac- tion by the Board of Corrections if the inmate population continues to grow. "We're certainly watching it very closely," Hartley said. "We're going to notify the counties as far ahead as possible." Clements said he wants to be notified if author- ities even think of shutting the prison doors. "I am committed to ensuring that the prisons stay open," he said in his letter. "I therefore ask you to advise me immediately if you ever contem- plate restricting the admission of inmates to the prison, for such an action must not be taken." Clements said authorities must do whatever is necessary "consonant with the paramount goal of public safety" to avoid an overcrowding crisis. Hartley said prison officials are putting some inmates back into tents, exploring the possibility of erecting more canvas dwellings and investi- gating a number of other options. The number of inmates housed in tents was reduced to 2,800 in July. By BOB LLOYD Star-Telegram Austin Bureau AUSTIN — Gov. Bill Clements, calling drunken drivers "time bombs," Tuesday predicted the next Legislature will pass harsher penalties to get the drunk off the road. "These offenders are life-threat- ening and need to be treated as such," Clements told the Texas Crime Stoppers Advisory Council and onlookers who filled the Senate chamber. "Our silent acceptance of drinking and driving has placed time bombs on our highways and it's just a matter of time before another one explodes." Clements, who testified on the be- half of Mothers Against Drunk Driv- ing (MADD), blamed alcohol for 50 percent of the traffic fatalities in the state. "In Texas the problem of driving while intoxicated is reaching epi- demic proportions. . Over the past 10 years, drunk drivers have killed a staggering 19,000 Texans, which is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Cleburne," he said. Clements promised to put stiffer DWI penalties at the forefront of his anti-crime proposals to the Legisla- ture. Clements' task force on traffic safety also will recommend, in addi- tion to harsher penalites, raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 and prohibiting open beer and li- quor containers in cars. He declined to give details.