Polly Ross Hughes reports in the SA Express News ("Report says treatment could save prison space, money," Jan. 30.) that today's joint House Corrections-Senate Criminal Justice hearing will feature the unveiling of a new report by Fabelo suggesting ways to manage Texas' correctional population to avoid building new prisons. His report:
So Dr. Fabelo thinks we can avoid up to 12,500 new max security beds just by tweaking current policies under existing laws. That tells me that with more significant policy changes like those proposed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, it might be possible to reduce the rate of increase even further.
will recommend saving $377 million by avoiding construction of prisons for up to 5,000 more inmates.
The report estimates its recommendations could save $65 million more by reducing recidivism, helping keep probationers out of prison in the first place and paroling nonviolent substance abusers sooner to halfway houses.
"The Texas prison system is full and predicted to be out of capacity if we do not change policies," said Tony Fabelo, former director of the former Criminal Justice Policy Council.
Fabelo wrote the report, "Justice Reinvestment: A Framework to Improve Effectiveness of Justice Policies in Texas," backed by grants from the State Council on Governments, the Pew Foundation and Justice Department.
"We need to enhance the probation treatment component of the probation system so that we are able to stop the recycling of offenders coming in and out of our prisons," he said.
Fabelo estimated a change in policies could result in a prison population of 155,600 — more than 12,500 less than if the state sticks to current policies.
See more background on today's joint committee meeting, and check back at Grits later today for updates from the scene.
UPDATE: More from the Austin Statesman's Mike Ward.