A better strategy would be to "reinvest" funds in preventing crime on the front end, says House Corrections Chairman Jerry Madden in a press release received today via email from the Council of State Governments:
Justice Center Releases Texas Case Study on Cost-Effective New Criminal Justice Policies to Increase Safety, Control Prison GrowthSee a related presentation from Dr. Tony Fabelo giving more detail about Texas' proposed alternatives to prison overcrowding.
Texas State Rep. Jerry Madden to meet with key policymakers in D.C. to discuss the report
Washington, D.C.—The Council of State Governments Justice Center today released a new report outlining steps that key members of the Texas legislature are taking to improve the state’s approach to criminal justice policymaking. The publication, Justice Reinvestment State Brief: Texas (pdf) is the first in a series for state policymakers interested in how particular states across the country have employed a data-driven strategy called justice reinvestment to reduce spending on corrections and increase public safety.
Texas State Representative Jerry Madden (R-Plano), chairman of the House Corrections Committee and a member of the Justice Center board of directors, will meet with key members of the U.S. Congress and officials from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. to discuss implementation of the new policies and potential strategies for federal policymakers to provide support to their counterparts at the state level.
“In Texas and other states around the country, there is a growing need to address rising prison populations and high recidivism rates,” Rep. Madden said. “This new report will help policymakers better understand how to reduce spending on corrections and increase public safety, while improving conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return.”
As described in the report, the Texas House and Senate, under the leadership of Rep. Madden and State Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston), chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, enacted a legislative package this year to avert the projected growth of the prison population and avoid spending nearly $523 million to build more prisons.
The package included provisions to improve parole and probation policies and procedures and expand treatment and diversion programs. These new policies—regarded by many policymakers as the most expansive redirection in state corrections policy since the early 1990s—have already saved the state $210.5 million for the FY 2008-09 biennium. If the legislative plan is implemented effectively, and no new prisons are constructed, the state will avoid spending an additional $233 million.
In addition to meeting with key members of the Texas congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., Rep. Madden also plans to meet with officials from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Pew Center on the States, a division of the Pew Charitable Trusts. The meetings will focus on ways in which federal and private grant makers can help leverage state funding to support policy implementation.
In the coming months, the Justice Center will issue state briefs on the application of the justice reinvestment strategy in Kansas and Nevada.
“Across the country, prison populations are escalating,” said Justin Jones, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. “States need effective policies that will manage this growth and make communities safer. Corrections officials and policymakers should consider a justice reinvestment strategy, like the one recently implemented in Texas, to help achieve these goals.”
Assistance provided by the Justice Center was funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States.
For more information, or to view the Texas report, visit the Justice Reinvestment website.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. It provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus-driven strategies—informed by available evidence—to increase public safety and strengthen communities.