Friday, June 25, 2010

LBB: Prison population flat for years to come, unless Texas cuts diversion programming

After legislative leaders said possible prison closures depend in part on the Legislative Budget Board's estimate of how many beds will be needed, I've looking forward to the publication of LBB's inmate population projections (pdf) that were released today covering fiscal years 2010-2015. The friend who forwarded the link summarized the results thusly:
  • Adult Incarceration: Flat
  • Adult Parole: Steady increase
  • Adult Felony Community Supervision: Steady increase
  • Adult Misdemeanor: Slight decrease
  • TYC: Flat
  • Juvenile Probation: Flat 
There's more, though, because the LBB estimates potentially preclude several of the larger cuts suggested by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to treatment and diversion programming. In the methodology described in Appendix A, LBB lets us know that these flatline projections only hold if diversion programming isn't cut, asserting dryly (p. 13) that "The implementation of these initiatives has been incorporated into the simulation model."

These data let us know a) that diversion programs have been effective, b) that inmate numbers would rise without them, and c) that generating substantial savings will require additional policy changes beyond what the Legislature has so far embraced. I've suggested the following ideas for safely cutting the corrections budget as a starting point:

 If LBB had predicted a steep upward curve regarding inmate numbers, the possibility of closing prisons might well have ended with this report. But with diversion programs working well and inmate numbers flatlining - not to mention LBB's explicit tying of diversion programming to the leveling out of the inmate population - this data may help box in TDCJ so they can't cut treatment and have little choice but to seriously consider cuts to the institutional division that they'd previously been unwilling to countenance.


Don said...

Hope you're right about TDCJ being boxed in to the treatment/diversion option as opposed to regular prison. However, I won't underestimate their ability to always get this done, somehow. They always have. When I see treatment programs preserved at the expense of punishment units closing, then I may believe it. Maybe.

Picture Perfect said...


Can you set out your understanding of these diversion programs the LBB is referring to for us?


Gritsforbreakfast said...

PP, they're talking about treatment programs, intermediate sanctions facilities, and halfway houses first authorized and funded in 2007. They were pretty successful and reducing probation and parole revocations and are the reason the inmate numbers stopped rising.