Joan has been writing professionally since 1988. She has written articles for publications such as Katy Magazine, eHow, and Triond.
Texas Blue Warrants
Wondering about Texas blue warrants? Here's what you need to know.
Before Texas prisoners are placed on parole, they must first complete a minimum recommended jail sentence and gain approval for release from the parole board. In order to receive parole, potential parolees must agree to certain conditions in order to gain parole:
- They will remain under court supervision.
- They must meet regularly with their assigned parole officers.
- They must complete a specified number of hours of community service.
- They must obtain gainful employment.
In Texas, parole violations lead to a judge issuing a blue warrant that calls for the arrest of the parole violator. Blue warrants are so-named because, traditionally, they were issued in a blue jacket.
When Are Blue Warrants Issued?
They are usually issued whenever a parolee has been charged with a technical violation of parole by his or her parole officer. Technical violations include additional criminal offenses and failure to attend required meetings with the parole officer. In either of these two cases, the parolee will be arrested under the blue warrant and held until the judge determines the punishment for violating his or her parole.
Blue warrants can also be used to give "jail therapy" to a parolee who's headed for trouble but hasn't actually violated parole yet. Jail therapy is meant to give the parolee a few days to chill out and re-examine the alternatives to his or her current path.
What Happens When You're Arrested Under This Warrant?
When parolees are arrested under a blue warrant, they are entitled to a preliminary hearing. They also have the right to a revocation hearing, but not to bail. These parolees are allowed a written notice of the violations they allegedly committed and the evidence to back up the allegations.
At the hearing, they can call defense witnesses and cross-examine prosecution witnesses. Their rights to representation are limited, however, and even then, revocation lawyers may or may not be able to reduce the punishment and get parole reinstated. It all depends on the violation(s) that caused the blue warrant to be issued in the first place.
There are three potential outcomes to a blue warrant hearing.
- First, the parole gets reinstated.
- Second, the parolee gets assigned to a halfway house or is given other intermediate changes to the terms of his or her parole.
- Finally, the parole is revoked and the parolee is returned to prison to serve out the remainder of the sentence.
Why Would Parole Be Revoked?
Reasons for revocation of parole include the following:
- The prisoner should never have gotten parole in the first place.
- The parolee committed another crime while out on parole.
- The parolee's actions while on parole cause him/her to be considered a "danger to society."
Problems With "Jail Therapy"
Increases in blue warrant arrests have led to an increase in the inmate population in county jails across Texas. Local sheriffs, in charge of the overcrowded local jails, complained that Texas State parole officers were misusing blue warrants for "jail therapy" and causing overpopulation in the county jails with parolees taking up valuable bed space.
The local sheriffs contended that the non-violent parolees who had committed only minor parole infractions should be allowed to be released on bail while awaiting their parole hearings. They also contended that those parolees with only minor infractions could end up losing their jobs, which could lead to a more crucial parole violation.
The Texas Sheriffs Association endorsed a bill, which Governor Rick Perry vetoed in 2007, that would have allowed judges to issue bonds or bail requests for blue warrant parolees. The reasoning for his veto was that Texas' top 10 fugitives (who were all blue warrant violators at the time) would have been eligible for bail while awaiting their parole hearings. Since at least some of the parolees are considered flight risks, this law is not likely to be modified any time soon.
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Parole Division: Warrants
Home page for the Parole Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
- Texas Criminal Justice Coalition: Parole Summons Fact Sheet
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.