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Changes in Interstate Compact rules outlined

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Changes in Interstate Compact rules outlined
By Kathie Winckler, Texas Interstate Compact Commissioner

Every parole and probation officer has faced this situation. John Doe, newly-placed on probation or about to be paroled, announces that he really belongs with his wife, mother, grandmother, brother, or daughter in Oklahoma, California, Florida, New York, or Illinois, and doesn’t want to stay in Texas. While John Doe doesn’t have any legal right to leave Texas, there may be a reason why he can go to the state where he was a resident before his offense or where he has family who want to provide moral, and if necessary, financial support. But how do you get him from Texas to his new state? And once you’ve sent him there (or accepted an offender transferred to Texas), how do you write up violations, progress reports, case closures, and all the other actions required in the handling of Interstate Compact offenders?

In the past year it may seem that the answers to all questions involving the Interstate Compact have become more bewildering, and in many instances harder to find. The new rules for the operation of the Interstate Compact became effective on August 1, 2004, and as of that date, every transfer, violation report, progress report, case closure and communication of every kind was supposed to be made using the new rules and forms. Hopefully by now you will have attended a training session at one of the four training sites where trainers from the Interstate Commission are scheduled to hold two-day training sessions for probation and parole officers. But if you missed those sessions, or if your schedule wouldn’t allow you to attend, you may still receive training. The training curriculum offered at these training sessions was developed by the Interstate Commission so that people designated as trainers by your department can pass on the training to you and your fellow officers. And if there continues to be demand here in Texas for training from the national trainers, we can ask them to return. The training is free both to the state and your department.

More change is coming. Since its creation just over two years ago, the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision, which is the national body made up of one representative from each Interstate Compact state, has worked hard to create an electronic tracking system for all offenders transferred from one state to another. That system is now a reality and testing of the system will begin soon. Implementation in all states is scheduled for December 1, 2005. At that time all persons who handle "paperwork" relating to interstate offenders will be required to do it electronically using the National Adult Compact Information System (NACIS), software that will be supplied to the states by the Interstate Commission and distributed to all users by CJAD and the Parole divisions. Clearly, many questions will need to be answered about compatibility of systems and equipment, and it is anticipated that additional training will be required prior to the implementation of the system.

As the Interstate Commission has described the NACIS system: "The transfer process begins with the officer accessing NACIS on the Internet. Once the officer in the sending state finishes the application process, a supervisor is notified to review and approve the transfer information. Once approved by the supervisor, the state compact office will receive a notice and will review and either approve or reject the transfer. If approved, the receiving state’s compact office receives a notice to review and either approve or reject the transfer. If approved, a notice goes to a supervisor in the receiving state and the supervisor assigns the case to an officer. Once the investigation is complete, whether approved or not, the process is reversed, and notices flow back to the officer who initiated the transfer in the sending state." The rules are built into the program so that the officer completing the information is given helpful reminders of things such as time periods designated for actions to be taken.

One last proposed change should be of help. The Interstate Commission’s Rules Committee is working on rules changes that would eliminate the need to attach a number of forms to the transfer request when initiating a transfer. Instead of mailing the original forms or scanning them into a computer in digital form, the sending state would retain the forms in their files but remain prepared to deliver the forms to the receiving state should the necessity arise. These rule changes are only proposals, and as with all matters that require votes, may or may not pass. But these and similar rule changes are being reviewed in an effort to streamline the offender transfer process.

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New water tower at Ellis
New technology has water/wastewater rehab project on fast track

water tower with Ellis Unit sign in foreground.
Construction of the new water tower at the Ellis Unit is in the finishing stage
Photo courtesy of Facilities Division
Seeded deep within the piney woods and wide open bottoms of Walker County lies the expanse of the Ellis Unit. Shots can be heard echoing from the training academy firing range as another in-service class nears an end. A state crew cab passes slowly by with two horses and baying hound dogs in tow. The first signs of spring are approaching. A red-tail hawk soaring gracefully overhead goes unnoticed by the men hard at work below.

The men are installing a new water system complete with a new 500,000-gallon water tower. The finishing touches are now being added to the new composite water tower, located near the entrance to Ellis. Started in May 2004, the tower, when finished, will serve as a reservoir to the already existing city water supply.

Less obvious to the landscape is the work that is being done beneath the surface. That’s because 13,000 feet of new pipeline is being installed with little to no ground being broken. The new pipe will replace the deteriorating existing water supply system.

A new directional boring machine used on the project allows for pipe to be installed without the timely and costly excavating process.

“With this machine there is no breaking through walls, tearing up roads, or making openings in the security perimeter, and most importantly it provides a safer work area for everyone involved,” said Project Administrator Charles Schulz.

The new machine can bore under any obstacles safely and efficiently. The hand-held drill head locator sends a signal back to the boring machine telling the operator precisely how deep, how far, and at what angle the bore is in the ground. Pipe casing follows the bore into the ground and the new pipe is inserted into the casing. The casing and bore head are then removed from around the new pipe.

“This technology allows us to safely install new pipe with record progress,” said operator Mark Mathis.

A pipe-bursting machine recently purchased by the state will be inserted into the existing wastewater pipe routes. The machine will then burst the pipes while pulling the new larger pipe along through the system. This advanced pipe bursting technology provides for faster, productive pipe rehabilitation with minimal above ground disruption.

The two new tools are assigned to Region 1 Maintenance Department. Once everything is flowing well at Ellis, the Facilities Division will use the equipment on other agency projects.

When the project is complete the unit will also be equipped with 25 new fire hydrants. The new hydrants will provide greater fire protection for the unit and grounds. The Maintenance Department is also going to replace the entire wastewater system at Ellis.

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