Interim Charge 1: Determine how private prisons are complying with state laws and how cost, safety, living conditions and rehabilitative services at private prisons compare with state-run facilities. Include an assessment of the staff turnover rates and compensation of private contractors when compared with state-operated facilities, and of the contract bidding processes used by the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.All fascinating and important stuff. In addition, two of the three interim study topics on the agenda of the House Judiciary Committee, which meets tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., also relate to topics frequently discussed on this blog:
Interim Charge 4: Monitor the implementation of the new and expanded programs provided to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) within the Fiscal Year 2008 and 2009 budget, and identify their impact on the criminal justice populations. Study security issues within TDCJ, including staffing issues, use of lock down procedures, the control and containment of infectious diseases and the introduction and control of contraband within the institutions. Review the use of career ladders for employees of TDCJ and issues surrounding the retention of professional corrections staff. Study the issues of independent oversight of TDCJ, including the use and effectiveness of the TDCJ ombudsman system. Provide recommendations for the reduction or elimination of barriers to an effective corrections system.
Interim Charge 9: Review the processes for re-entry of criminal offenders into communities. Identify barriers to the successful return to law-abiding behavior, including the absence of employment opportunities created by restriction on obtaining certain state occupational licenses. Provide recommendations for improvements to our current statutes governing this matter.
1. Examine the current Texas jury system. Consider possible changes to enhance the jury experience and increase citizen participation on juries.Before session starts, these commitees will be issuing interim reports recommending legislative solutions to problems they're now assessing, so what we're hearing at these events may be a preview of debates over specific bills in these same committees in just a few months.
2. Examine the current Texas court system, including its complex layers of trial courts with overlapping and varying jurisdiction. Consider whether the system needs modernization to improve judicial efficiency.
Go here on Thursday morning to watch the hearings live.