Stay tuned for more from next week's hearing. It should be a good one. In the meantime, see Ward's preview of the long-awaited proposal.
"If you give people the tools to become better citizens when they leave prison, and don't just lock them up and then let them out, it makes so much more sense," said Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston. "Public safety is the No. 1 priority in whatever we do, and if we can enhance public safety and save money, that would make the most sense."
House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, who has been working for weeks to refine the details of the new initiatives, said thousands of convicts might be successfully kept from returning to prison and thousands more might never break the law to start with.
"This could be the biggest change in years in how we address criminal justice in this state," Madden said.
If the additional programs should eventually be approved, they would mark a significant departure from a state policy during the past 15 years of mostly building new prisons to keep up with growing numbers of convicts. In the early 1990s, Texas tripled the size off its prison system in five years and while greatly expanded drug and alcohol-treatment programs were proposed, they were never fully funded or opened.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
More details emerge on Texas prison alternatives
According to the Statesman's Mike Ward ("Criminal justice leaders push home nurses, anger management to help trim crime," Jan. 23), the new plan for alternatives to prison building in Texas will be unveiled at a joint hearing on January 30 between the House Corrections and Senate Criminal Justice Committees. Chairmans Madden and Whitmire are doing a good job, it seems to me, of explaining the proposals to the public and their fellow legislators so far. I found their quotes and analysis in this story to be encouraging: