Community Supervision in Texas

There are 122 community supervision and corrections departments (CSCDs), formerly known as adult probation departments, in Texas. These CSCDs are organized within judicial districts in the 254 Texas counties, and are responsible for supervising offenders placed on community supervision as defined by Chapter 76 of the Texas Government Code and Section 42.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Although CSCDs are referred to by the name of the county they serve, they are not governed by county government.

As community supervision is a function of the local court system (judicial function), CSCDs are established by the district judges, who appoint a director who then employs officers and other staff as necessary to conduct adult probation services in their jurisdiction. CSCD employees are subject to the management of the CSCD director with oversight by the local judiciary handling criminal cases in that jurisdiction. The CSCD director, in conjunction with the local judiciary, sets local policy and makes decisions about local CSCD’s at that level. CSCDs receive their funding from appropriations made at the state level and, in some part, from locally generated funds.

Community supervision is authorized and defined in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 42.12. This article forms the basis from which community supervision operates.

According to Article 42.12, Section 2 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, community supervision is: The placement of a defendant by a court under a continuum of programs and sanctions, with conditions imposed by the court for a specified period during which criminal proceedings are deferred without an adjudication of guilt, or a sentence of imprisonment or confinement in jail, imprisonment and fine, or confinement in jail and fine, is probated and the imposition of sentence is suspended in whole or in part. In other words, once a defendant has been convicted or has pled guilty or no contest to an offense, the court may suspend imposition of the sentence to the county jail or state penitentiary and place the defendant on community supervision. The defendant, in turn, must abide by conditions imposed by the court for a specified period of time, which includes not committing new offenses while under supervision, reporting regularly, paying restitution and other obligations, and completion of various programs designed to help the offender lead a more pro-social lifestyle. If the defendant fails to abide by these conditions, the court has the option of imposing a term of imprisonment or jail time through revoking the defendant’s supervision. The length of the term depends on the type of community supervision and the discretion of the court. Community supervision can be a sanction, an organization, and a process. As a sanction, community supervision is the preferred punishment available to courts in disposing criminal cases. As an organization, community supervision is the infrastructure through which and by which the process of community corrections is administered or implemented. As a process, community supervision involves the utilization of the continuum of programs and sanctions which are created for the purposes of reducing the probability that offenders will re-offend and removing from the community those offenders who cannot or will not comply with the requirements imposed by the court.

Supervised by the local Community Supervision and Corrections Department (CSCD), the offender must meet specific conditions set by the court while being supervised. Progress and compliance with conditions ordered by the court are monitored by a community supervision officer. If the offender does not follow the conditions, conditions can be changed (modified) or the offender can be removed from community supervision (revoked) and sent to prison or jail. Community supervision includes a wide range of requirements, such as regular reporting, attending counseling, drug testing, electronic monitoring, placement in a residential facility or state jail, paying restitution, and performing community service.

October 2014
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