After a year marked by employee union organizing, public protests, and rampant allegations of mismanagement, Bexar County’s probation department marches boldly on in one of the last major cities in the state that refuses probationers the right to a high-quality pee test. Lawsuits swirl about the department’s tattered edges and state investigations return highly questionable assessments of its effectiveness.
Through it all, Probation Chief Bill Fitzgerald has stuck by piss-sniffing mercenaries Treatment Associates — through alleged software malfunctions, paperwork errors, and a Texas AG prosecution for tossing boxes of confidential records into a dumpster. Go figure.
Most recently, a review of the department’s performance record suggests area judges, who hold the key to Fitzgerald’s job tenure, may want to nose around a bit. The December audit by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice found that while programs in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, and Austin decreased their revocation rates by an average of 14 percent since 2005, Bexar County probation revocation rates skyrocketed 80 percent. Curious, to say the least.
And just to reinforce a point: Probationers? You have a right to receive more accurate testing via GCMS. Fitzgerald’s crew didn’t know or wouldn’t say if case managers are making you aware of this option. Anecdotal interviews suggest the answer is no. While it may cost you, you don’t want to let those jail guitar doors clank without putting in this request.