In a first-time initiative aimed at making streets safer, some Texas parolees with drunken driving records have been instructed to sign pledges that they won’t drive from 7 p.m. Dec. 31 to 6 a.m. Jan. 1, says the Houston Chronicle. Kathy Shallcross of the parole division at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the initiative is not so much a lockdown as an effort to prevent high-risk offenders from operating motor vehicles on a night when celebrating with alcohol is the tradition. She conceded it may amount to a lockdown because parole officers will be randomly calling parolees Friday night to make sure they are home.
Shallcross she said that about 50 high-risk offenders will receive unscheduled visits from their parole officers Saturday. Others have been ordered to report for a urinalysis Monday. The extra scrutiny probably will result in some parole revocations, but Shallcross said returning people to prison is not the goal of the holiday crackdown. Parole division officials decided it was time to err on the side of public safety. The initiative is part of a changing strategy on how the state deals with paroled offenders. During other holidays, hundreds of Houston-area sex offenders were told to remain at their residences. “Instead of looking at parole officers as 8-to-5, let’s do random checks when they’re not expecting it,” Shallcross explained. “By taking this approach, it definitely has helped us to possibly prevent future criminal activities.” One defense lawyer noted that a federal appeals court said the state cannot do whatever it wants in the name of public safety. On Dec. 21, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said Texas violated the rights of a parolee who never had been convicted of a sex offense yet was required to register as a sex offender and attend therapy.