While the state deserves credit for various reforms passed in the last few years, this last session Texas legislators backed away from a more aggressive reform agenda, much to this writer's dismay, de-emphasizing the strategies embraced over previous sessions instead of doubling down. As regular readers, know, I'm willing to give credit where credit's due, but I was disappointed Texas legislators didn't seize the opportunity presented to them by the budget crisis to more radically reform the corrections system, particularly on the adult side. Indeed, in many ways I fear this failure to act in 2011 may, in the medium to long run, set the agency up to fail.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2011
Right on Crime and TPPF Release Reports on Texas Corrections Reform
Texas achieves dramatic results in criminal justice reform
AUSTIN, TX - Right on Crime and the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) today released two policy briefs regarding Texas' extensive criminal justice reforms in juvenile and adult corrections. Over the last decade, the groups' policy advisors have been instrumental in working with the Texas legislature and Governor Rick Perry to overhaul the state's corrections system.
"For the first time in state history, Texas closed a prison because we don't need it anymore," said Marc Levin, Senior Policy Advisor to Right on Crime, who also serves as the Director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. "The reforms that were first adopted in Texas have stimulated similar initiatives across the nation in South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, Arkansas, and other states. Crime has dropped in Texas since the changes and taxpayers have saved more than a billion dollars from not building new prisons. We believe these commonsense policies, which were supported by 'tough and smart on crime' conservatives and are outlined in these reports, can serve as an effective model for other states."
According to the report Adult Corrections Reform: Lower Crime, Lower Costs, policies initiated since 2005 have expanded capacity to alternatives to incarceration that hold nonviolent offenders accountable and provide effective supervision. This has helped Texas reduce its crime rate by 12.8 percent since 2005 while also reducing its incarceration rate by 9 percent. Additionally, the number of new crimes committed by parolees fell 8.5 percent from 2007 to 2010.
The second report, Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Reform: Cutting Costs, Saving Lives, revealed that through key reforms, Texas was able to reduce the number of juvenile crime cases by 9.1 percent from 2007 to 2011. Among the reforms, Texas moved away from an overemphasis on incarcerating less serious youth offenders in remotely located state lockups and towards evidence-based community corrections programs that produce a greater reduction in re-offending for every dollar spent.
"While we have more work to do, the Texas model of reform has proven to be extremely effective in both increasing public safety and saving taxpayers' money," said Brooke Rollins, president of TPPF and a Right on Crime signatory. "In criminal justice, it is vital to align policies with the current research indicating what works to protect communities and reform offenders, rather than simply maintain the status quo. The commonsense approach outlined in these new reports provides a roadmap for other states to follow Texas' model in modernizing the corrections system in a way that reduces crime and cuts costs."
To view the reports, click here.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Conservatives praise 'Texas model' on criminal justice reform
Just received this press release from the Right on Crime initiative announcing two new public policy reports from the Texas Public Policy Foundation: