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OCA: Collection Improvement Program - Inmates Having Withdrawal Orders Prior To Harrell v. State

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TCO Judicial Directory Judicial Information Judicial Entities Events News Links For Trial Courts TCO Encyclopedia Collection Improvement Program A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M| N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z | All Withdrawing Funds from Inmate Trust/Commissary Accounts for Court Costs, Fees, Fines and Restitution Search In 1995, section 501.014(e) of the Texas Government Code was enacted. The idea » Office of Court Administration « behind the statute was to provide a simplified way to withdraw funds from an offender’s Inmate Trust Account (their commissary account) to pay for the expenses Texas Appellate Courts listed in the statute. These expenses include child support, health care costs, court costs, fees, fines and restitution. Walker and Kerr counties pioneered the use of The Supreme Court of Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Orders to Withdraw Funds from Inmate Trust Accounts to pay court costs, fees, and Courts of Appeals [by District-City] fines. The practice of collecting from Inmate Trust Accounts has been widely adopted

–  –  –

The following is the recommended procedure for withdrawal of criminal court costs, fees, fine(s) and restitution from an offender’s Inmate Trust Account. (Flowchart of

the process):

Step One: Establish Contact with TDCJ The clerk must send an introduction letter with the clerk’s contact information(and

when the clerk's contact information changes) to:

–  –  –

Step Two: Establish Priorities for “Old” Cases “Old” cases include cases in which the offender is incarcerated and:

1. The offender has never had a Order to Withdraw Funds; or

2. The offender’s Order to Withdraw Funds predates the Harrell decision (June 5, 2009)1 and TDCJ is no longer enforcing that withdrawal order.

OCA: Collection Improvement Program - Inmates Having Withdrawal Orders Prior To Harrell v. State Prior to preparing an Order to Withdraw Funds, examine your cases to determine

which offenders are the most likely to produce collection results:

Examine each case for the type and length of sentence.

Offenders convicted of a state jail felony who were sentenced more than two (2) years ago probably have exited the system.

Offenders sentenced to prison who have served more than one-third (1/3) of their sentence (unless there is a deadly weapon finding or it is a sex crime) probably have exited the system.

For each case in which the offender is likely to still be incarcerated, list the number of years sentenced to state jail or prison versus the probable release date.

Look for the offender on FUGINET or the TDCJ’s database (http://168.51.178.33/webapp/TDCJ/index2.htm) after identifying candidates who are likely to be in TDCJ.

Prepare Order to Withdraw Funds in cases with shorter sentences first and then move to the cases with longer sentences.

Finalize your Order to Withdraw Funds once you have determined the offender’s unit location and the TDCJ number.

Step Three: Always Notify the Offender

Documents sent to offender via first class mail:

–  –  –

Sufficient time must be allotted for the defendant to contest the amount.

Notify offenders in new cases, as well as old cases in which the Order to Withdraw Funds was issued prior to the Harrell decision (June 5, 2009). Even though the offenders in pre-Harrell cases may have received a withdrawal notice in the past, a new notice is necessary. (For pre-Harrell cases, it is recommended that an explanation be added to the notice as to why the withdrawals were previously stopped and will start again.) For new cases, it is recommended that the withdrawal notice be sent to the offender while he/she is in the county jail before transfer to TDCJ.

For cases in which the offender is incarcerated in TDCJ (prison or state jail), FUGINET or TDCJ’s database (http://168.51.178.33/webapp/TDCJ/index2.htm) can be used to locate the offender’s unit where the withdrawal notice is to be sent. Using the TDCJ Number or SID (State ID) Number works best for this database search. (The SID Number is listed on the judgment.) Step Four: Send Order to Withdraw Funds and Judgment to TDCJ

Documents stapled together sent via first class mail to TDCJ:

1. Copy of the Order to Withdraw Funds or Attachment A (top document) and

2. Certified copy of Judgment (bottom document).

Send a copy of the Order to Withdraw Funds and a certified copy of the judgment in the underlying criminal case to TDCJ Inmate Trust Fund (the same address in Step One). (See www.txcourts.gov/oca/collections/woforms.asp for sample Inmate Trust

Account Order to Withdraw Funds forms.) Please note:

OCA: Collection Improvement Program - Inmates Having Withdrawal Orders Prior To Harrell v. State TDCJ will not accept mail before the offender is actually incarcerated.

TDCJ requires certain information to be included in an Order to Withdraw Funds.





Unacceptable Order to Withdraw Funds will be returned by TDCJ to the clerk with suggested wording for resubmission.

The Order to Withdraw Funds must have a TDCJ Number or a SID Number. (A TDCJ Number is preferred however, if no TDCJ Number is available, the SID Number must be used.) Do not send copies of orders and judgments to TDCJ’s Office of the General Counsel.

Step Five: Confirm the Transaction The clerk will know the withdrawal has been made when he/she receives the check

from TDCJ. Please note:

The clerk will receive one check representing withdrawals from multiple cases.

An attachment to the check will list the names of the offenders, their cause numbers, their TDCJ numbers, and each amount that is included in the check that is allocated to each cause number.

The check is likely to arrive about six weeks after the offender account Order to Withdraw Funds is sent to TDCJ.

Procedures to Stop Withdrawals When a Case Is Paid in Full When an Order to Withdraw Funds is processed by TDCJ, the total amount owed by the offender, as shown in the Order to Withdraw Funds, is entered into TDCJ’s computer system. Funds are automatically withdrawn from deposits to the offender’s Inmate Trust Account until that amount is paid in full. Thus, withdrawals will cease when the case is paid in full. However, when payment in full is received by the clerk from a family member/friend, rather than from a withdrawal from TDCJ, withdrawals from TDCJ must be stopped.

–  –  –

Procedures to Stop Withdrawals When a Case Is Not Paid in Full There may be special circumstances that require stopping withdrawals from the offender’s Inmate Trust Account. Please call Lynn Clark at 936-437-4754 and discuss the special circumstances. She will provide instructions on what she needs to stop the withdrawals.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much will be withdrawn from an offender’s Inmate Trust Account?

Once the Order to Withdraw Funds is processed into the TDCJ computer system, there will be an “initial amount” withdrawn from the offender’s Inmate Trust Account and an amount withdrawn every time there is a deposit, if any, to the account. Beginning June 1, 2010,

the initial standard withdrawal amount is:

a. 15% of the account balance up to and including $100, plus b. 25% of any portion of the account balance that is between $100.01 and $500 inclusive, plus c. 50% of any portion of the account balance that is more than $500.

For example: If the Inmate Trust Account balance is $800.00, the initial withdrawal OCA: Collection Improvement Program - Inmates Having Withdrawal Orders Prior To Harrell v. State

–  –  –

The standard withdrawal amount for subsequent deposits is 10% of the deposit.

Note: TDCJ uses an antiquated computer system for this process and currently does not have the programming resources to change the withdrawal percentage.

2. If offender is convicted in multiple cases and there are, as a result, separate judgments, is a separate withdrawal order required for each case?

It is suggested that only one Order to Withdraw Funds which combines the court costs, fees, fines and restitution owed on the multiple separate cases, be issued. (See Sample Withdrawal Order Form 3. at www.txcourts.gov/oca/collections/woform for sample Inmate Trust Account Order to Withdraw Funds form.) [Note: Generally, the cause number for the case with the longest sentence should be used. This cause number will be placed at the top of the Order to Withdraw Funds form. TDCJ will enter this cause number and add an “X” at the end of the cause number to help identify that this cause number is for multiple cases. When the clerk receives a check with that cause number, the clerk will decide how to allocate the amount received to the appropriate case(s) and the item (for example, court costs) within the case(s).]

3. Where does TDCJ send the checks?

The check will be sent to the requestor. Information as to where a check should be sent is usually part of the standard Inmate Trust Account Order to Withdraw Funds, as

exemplified by the following excerpt from a McLennan County order:

–  –  –

4. Does the clerk need to send a copy of the original judgment with a new Order to Withdraw Funds when an offender is sent back to prison after his/her parole has been revoked?

Yes, TDCJ requires a new Order to Withdraw Funds with the amount of the outstanding balance on the order, along with a certified copy of the original judgment. The outstanding balance will reflect any court costs, fees, fines and restitution payments made while the offender was out of the TDCJ facility. A copy of the original judgment, new Order to Withdraw Funds, and bill of costs showing the original amount owed and credits received must also be sent to the offender. (Note: When an offender is released (paroled) from a TDCJ facility, the withdrawal of funds ceases and is not restarted until the proper documentation are sent to the offender and TDCJ.)

5. Why did I receive one more payment when I sent an email to stop withdrawals?

When TDCJ receives a deposit for an offender’s Inmate Trust Account that has a withdrawal order(s), 10% is deducted for each order and placed in an escrow account with the remainder of the deposit credited to the offender’s Inmate Trust Account. Once a month checks are issued to the clerks from the escrow account and all escrow subaccount balances are zeroed out. If the stop withdrawal email is processed after funds have been deposited in the escrow account, the amount in the escrow account will be included in that month’s payment.

Note: The excess amount must be returned to TDCJ. TDCJ will credit the offender’s Inmate Trust Account.

6. Why did I receive a withdrawal from an offender for less than $1.00?

OCA: Collection Improvement Program - Inmates Having Withdrawal Orders Prior To Harrell v. State TDCJ has limited computer programming resources. It would be relatively simple to program the computer to exclude an offender on the clerk's monthly check when the withdrawal amount is below a certain threshold amount. However, the amount remaining in the escrow account would have to be included on a monthly check when an offender is released from a TDCJ facility. Including this process in the normal offender release process and marking the offender's record/amount so it would be included in the next monthly check even though the withdrawal amount may be less than the threshold amount, would take significant programming time.

7. Is there a list of offenders who had Inmate Trust Account withdrawal orders prior to the June 5, 2009 Harrell decision that are no longer valid? (A copy of the new Order to Withdraw Funds and the original judgment must be submitted to TDCJ for these offenders.) Yes, TDCJ has provided an Excel spreadsheet file to the Office of Court Administration (OCA) that includes: TDCJ Number, Offender’s Name, Cause Number, Court Code and Case Date. The file contains 14,175 cases with 10,691 different inmates (an inmate may have more than one case). Please note that TDCJ has determined that this information must not be made generally available to the public. Accordingly, while OCA is making this information available to you, you must not make this information available to the public.

1. Please review TDCJ’s Court Codes Spreadsheet for your courts’ codes. If you do not find your courts’ codes on the spreadsheet, you do not have any TDCJ withdrawal orders issued prior to the Harrell decision (i.e., June 5, 2009).

2. To obtain the spreadsheet that contains the TDCJ Number, Offender’s Name, Cause Number, Court Code and Case Date, send an email that includes your name, title, office location, phone number and your official email address to berny.schiff@txcourts.gov and cc: katherine.martinez@txcourts.gov.

3. Notify the offender even if this was done prior to the Harrell decision. (See Step Three for instructions.)

4. A copy of the new Order to Withdraw Funds with the amount of the outstanding balance noted, and a certified copy of the original judgment must be sent to the TDCJ Inmate Trust Fund.

1 Harrell v. State, 286 S.W.3d 315 (Tex. June 5, 2009) decision - "We hold an inmate is entitled to notice just as happened here (via copy of the order, or other notification, from the trial court) and an opportunity to be heard just as happened here (via motion made by the inmate)--but neither need occur before the funds are withdrawn. Moreover, appellate review should be by appeal, as in analogous civil post-judgment enforcement actions."



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