Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Blame game misses point on Hidalgo jail overcrowding

I wrote this comment on Grits for Breakfast.
One challenge that Hidalgo County judges face is the proximity to Mexico. Many of the inmates would flee to Mexico and skip the trial altogether. This is not necessarily bad, once they skip their court date, they would have warrants out for their arrest. So long as they stay in Mexico, we would not spend money on incarceration or trials, unless they choose to come back. Perhaps the county can evaluate who the best flight risks to Mexico are and release them on personal bond. If they stay in Mexico, we save space and money. If they come back, we save space and money until they are convicted.

I should also add that finger pointing is common here in the Rio Grande Valley. First and foremost, it is imperative for the older officials to avoid all blame. The new crop of officials coming up are not exactly immune to this, but are more professional about dealing with problems. I think this is a legacy of our old political system. Local government used to have to accept whatever employee base there was in the Rio Grande Valley. This opened the door for compadre politics, which we still see happening with judges down here. If you knew somebody or had a relative working in goverment, you could get a job. Now, local government is requiring Associate's and Bachelor's degrees for certain jobs. On top of that, prior experience requirements are creeping in. Hidalgo County's Head Start, for example, is now requiring new teachers to have Bachelor's degrees. They used to only require child care certification. Then they were asking for Associate's degrees. Now, you need a minimum of an Associates and a Bachelor's degree is preferred. Things will get better.

To sum it up, Rio Grande Valley politics is historically unprofessional. Local governments used whatever workforce there was, including nepotism. With the rise in college graduates, local government has a better labor pool to replace the employees carried over from the past. As these old employees change jobs or retire, our local governments will become more professional. In the meantime, there will be finger pointing first and solutions later.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...