Matthew's Foray into Blogging

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bizarre Game

Under Texas criminal law, there is a form of punishment referred to as “shock probation.” Shock probation is for people who have seriously run afoul of the law, but who are not recidivist offenders or who are not truly deserving of lengthy incarceration. The offender is sentenced to imprisonment in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – prison – for a term, perhaps five years. However, after about six months, the offender is “shocked out.” This gives the person a glimpse of what prison is like – it “shocks” the offender in hopes of putting him or her back on the straight and narrow. The person is then placed on probation.

The six-month period of incarceration – 180 days, to be exact – is determined because the trial court’s jurisdiction, its ability to exercise power over a person or a matter, is extended for 180 days. On the 180th day, not sooner and not later, the defendant is brought before the judge, a hearing is held, and the defendant’s sentence is suspended. If the offender’s attorney does not timely file a motion to have the person brought before the court on that 180th day, the court loses jurisdiction and the offender must serve the entire term of his or her sentence in prison. If this happens, the attorney is also subject to major malpractice liability.


We had a client who was “shocked” out yesterday. There had been a bit of drama last week, though. We had filed the motion for a hearing several weeks ago. The court coordinator, by counting 180 days on a calendar, had arrived at January 25 as being the 180th day since sentencing. Using a “date calculator” on the computer, we had determined that January 23 was the 180th day. It took some convincing to show her that our client had to have a hearing on January 23, lest he serve another four-and-a-half years in TDC. What kind of crazy game is this that the legislature has created?

7 Comments:

  • This sounds like a throwback to those zero-crime bills from the 80s and 90s. The idea being that you can keep a criminal from becoming a bad influence on society by scaring them straight. I can't imagine that it actually works, but what do I know?

    By Blogger Steve, at 4:37 AM, January 24, 2006  

  • That's just craziness. That's just one more reason for me not to turn to a life of crime. The system is a lot screwy.

    By Blogger hal the brown, at 8:19 AM, January 24, 2006  

  • That is bizarre. Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just show them the video "Scared Straight" and be done with it?

    By Blogger English Professor, at 3:58 PM, January 24, 2006  

  • If the Texas legislature is involved, it cannot be deemed bizarre. Haphazard perhaps, but bizarre? Not so much... Bizarre would imply that this law is somehow irregular or unique. Most legislation I have encountered is pretty darned screwy!

    By Blogger Ashley, at 8:25 PM, January 24, 2006  

  • What a ridiculous idea.

    By Blogger jules, at 8:08 PM, January 25, 2006  

  • Reminds me of "Sleepers". Not a good idea at all, methinks.

    By Blogger Sphinx, at 10:04 PM, January 30, 2006  

  • You live in texas. Take a look at the joke of a state constitution we have.

    It should be burned and rewritten by hundreds of drunk monkeys. The new document would still make more sense.

    By Blogger ConroeTexas, at 11:41 AM, February 03, 2006  

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