For starters, Texas crime rates for both adults and juveniles are going down, but our incarceration rate is going UP! (p. 3):
• Texas Crime Rate – The crime rate (number of crimes reported per 100,000 population) decreased 3.5 percent between 2004 and 2005. The total number of reported crimes also decreased (1.9 percent) between 2004 and 2005.And it's not just adults: TYC's population is expected to "grow modestly" by 2012 at a time when juvenile arrest rates are down more than 8% (p. 15).
• Texas Juvenile Arrest Rate – The juvenile arrest rate decreased 8.3 percent between 2004 and 2005 with the drug/alcohol arrest rate decreasing the most (13.4 percent).
• Adult Incarceration Projections – The Texas adult incarceration population is projected to increase by 6,598 offenders from the beginning of fiscal year 2007 until the end of fiscal year 2009 (from a total of 152,894 to 159,492). By fiscal year 2012, the incarcerated population is projected to increase to 168,166 under current sentencing practices and
Another interesting result from their "qualitiative" assessment: Many low-level offenders choose incarceration over probation and the main reason is a lack of mental health and drug treatment and other structural supports for probationers (p. 4):
According to focus groups and interviews with criminal justice decision-makers and practioners, prison population growth is most often associated with the lack of substance abuse and mental health treatment within the criminal justice system. The increase in direct sentences to prison and state jail was primarily attributed to offender preference for incarceration over community supervision. Among other things, participants suggested restoration of treatment funding throughout the criminal justice system, specific revisions to Chapter 42.12 (Community Supervision) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and recognition that juvenile offenders and issues should be managed differently than adult offenders and issues . Offenders primarily attributed prison population growth to an increase in drug addiction.If that assessment is accurate, you'd have to think that Chairmans Whitmire and Madden are on the right path with their plan to expand treatment options instead of building more prisons.
Thanks to Isela for pointing me to the report. Lots of other interesting stuff up on LBB's criminal justice web page that's worth a look for those who are interested.