Since the 1970's, the Texas State Legislature has enacted a number of initiatives designed to help county probation departments increase their total revenues by requiring probationers to pay for a substantial proportion of their own supervision costs.
Specifically, the Legislature allows departments to carry forward into the next fiscal year supervision fees they collect from offenders even when their revenue from fees and State funds exceeds their expenditures. In other initiatives, local probation departments were given discretion in deciding how to spend fee revenues and were encouraged to collect enough revenue to cover or exceed the staffing costs necessary to recover the money. Probation administrators in Texas have implemented a number of innovations to increase revenue: linking fee collections to staff performance, giving judicial priority to fee collections, instituting a strong no-waiver policy, and strictly enforcing payment. To collect a higher proportion of fees, in the 1980's the Texas Legislature introduced additional measures such as automatic assessments, computerized tracking, and increased State contributions. These authors note several benefits of fee collection: saving time through automation, providing another avenue for casework, and expanding probation services into other areas. 5 figures
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National Institute of Justice Program Focus, October 1992