Friday, May 06, 2005

Overincarceration Roundup

  • Moving time for pot legislation: Texas' county jails are filling up, and the final House floor calendar will be published on Tuesday. Isn't it time for the Calendars Committee to kick HB 254 restructuring sentences for low-level marijuana possession out onto the House floor before the deadline? I mean, y'all had time to debate the cheerleader thing. It passed unanimously from committee with no voiced opposition -- even conservative reps Debbie Riddle and Mary Denny voted for it. HB 254 provides much-needed relief for county jails, reducing overcrowding pressure, boosting local revenue, likely increasing enforcement, while saving jail space for more serious offenders. Come on, guys, how 'bout some love?
  • For the wonks among you: Ann has the language and summaries for the House and Senate versions of legislation strengthening the probation system.
  • Cha-Ching: LBB says making probation stronger will save more money than expected. Hard to put too much stock in that. LBB first predicted Texas prisons wouldn't fill up till this fall, then it was March, now it's this summer. They routinely give flat out wrong estimates for the cost of prison sentence increases. So who knows whether these numbers are worth anything? Still, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye, and another voice confirming that shorter, stronger probation could be a stopgap solution to Texas' overincarceraton crisis.


Taylor said...

At the rate H.B. 254 is moving, it doens't really seem like it has any chance of making it all the way through the Senate process this year, unless the Senate is much quickerl with passing it out of committee and getting the debate done.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

There's still time if it makes it to the House floor next week. I'm not trying to convey false hope: At this point in session, most bills are dead and a handful are alive. This one is still alive, which is impressive in its own right. If your representative sits on the House Calendars committee, now's the time to call them about HB 254, though. We need some heroes on that committee, and a friendly nod from the Chair.