REGARDING CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN TEXAS, WHAT SHOULD BE THE EIGHTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE’S MOST IMPORTANT PRIORITIES?
Focus group and interview participants most consistently mentioned the need for investment in mental health resources of all types. Expanded inpatient and outpatient treatment, additional funding for specialized community supervision caseloads, increased reimbursement rates for mental health professionals, and additional state hospital capacity for competency restoration were all mentioned as important needs. Practitioners also agreed statutes and policies regarding DWI punishments need revision. Currently, DWI offenders have little incentive to obtain treatment through community supervision; offenders increasingly prefer short terms of incarceration in county jail. Possible solutions mentioned for this issue included offering deferred adjudication and potential early termination from community supervision for DWI offenders. Participants also voiced support for ending or reforming the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP), which provides significant financial burden on DWI (and other) offenders with seemingly little to no public safety enhancement. Other legislative recommendations included providing Community Supervision and Corrections Departments (CSCDs) additional flexibility in the use of state funding and providing offenders more incentives to choose community supervision over incarceration. (emphasis added)Equally important, questioning offenders:
WHAT CAN THE STATE OF TEXAS DO TO IMPROVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND KEEP OFFENDERS IN THE COMMUNITY AND OUT OF PRISON OR STATE JAIL?Relatedly:
Offenders most consistently mentioned three factors that would improve criminal justice and keep offenders in the community: employment opportunities and assistance, expanded access to substance abuse treatment, and additional educational opportunities. Offenders indicated employment opportunities and assistance as the most important need of these three responses.
WHAT RESOURCES ARE NEEDED TO KEEP OFFENDERS IN THE COMMUNITY AND OUT OF PRISON OR STATE JAIL?
According to focus group and interview participants, mental health treatment options are the most needed resources to rehabilitate offenders in the community. Specifically mentioned resources included additional residential treatment, additional outpatient treatment, and increased reimbursement rates for mental health treatment providers. Along with mental health resources, practitioners indicated offenders need additional incentives to choose and/or remain on community supervision in lieu of incarceration. Participants also mentioned the need for additional resources specifically directed to meet the needs of female offenders.