The chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said Monday that the state needs to be more proactive in creating programs for nonviolent offenders within the prison system.
State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, told more than 130 graduates of East Texas Treatment Facility's DWI Recovery program — formed after Whitmire introduced its legislation in 2007 — that additional recovery programs are the ticket to reforming the state's prison system.
"We've done a real poor job dealing with nonviolent offenders," Whitmire said. "When you're out drinking and driving you put me, my family and others at risk. But when you're not drinking I don't think you're a threat to society."
The six-month program teaches DWI-convicted inmates from across the state life skills, alternatives to drinking and driving and the medical lifestyle and stress effects of alcohol.
The Department of Criminal Justice awarded the $8.9 million bid for the pilot program in January. In 2009, the amount will increase to $13.3 million, according to department spokesman Jason Clark.
Inmates who successfully complete the program go before the state's parole board, which decides to grant inmates' release or send them to another facility.
"This is an experiment in the state's eyes and I've got colleagues that don't believe in this," Whitmire said. "But I really want this to work." ...
Whitmire said preliminary data shows that many of the inmates are living successful lives since completing the program.
"This is not rocket science stuff," he said. "If you provide the treatment, they are going to do very well once they leave."
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Senate Dean promotes treatment options for nonviolent offenders
The Longview News-Journal has excerpts from a graduation speech given by Texas state Sen. John Whitmire to offenders who've completed the state's new DWI treatment program in Henderson ("Whitmire: Programs needed for nonviolent offenders," Dec. 16):
Posted by Gritsforbreakfast at 9:53 AM