Dallas County's probation officers did not follow court or department policies more than two out of three times when handling “technical violations” by probationers, says a preliminary audit reported by the Dallas Morning News. The audit by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was requested by Dallas County judges last year after the discovery that egregious violations by probationers putting the public at risk were not reported to the courts. Among the breaches were drunken driving and repeatedly testing positive for alcohol and drugs such as cocaine and PCP. The preliminary audit found that county probation officers failed to follow the policies in 70 percent of the cases with violations.
Michael Noyes, the head of Dallas County adult probation, said he doesn't believe the numbers in the state's draft report are accurate. Technical violations include testing positive for drugs, missing an appointment or not paying probation fees — but do not include violations for committing new crimes. Probation officers respond to technical violations depending on their severity and frequency. They are usually handled by the probation department with additional treatment or community service or a reprimand. Severe and frequent violations, however, can result in an appearance before a judge who can order prison time. There are about 47,000 people on probation in Dallas County. State District Judge Tracy Holmes said she would not be shocked if the final report shows a low compliance rate. Holmes' anger at the number of unreported violations prompted the judges to request the audit.