Altering its earlier estimate that Texas' prisons would run short of capacity by the end of the decade, the Legislative Budget Board now says that "adult state incarcerated populations are projected to remain stable throughout fiscal years 2014 to 2019 and to remain, on average, 0.6 percent below TDCJ’s internal operating capacity."
Wading through the bureaucratese, this is remarkable news: Despite Texas' rapid population growth in recent years, both adult and (especially) juvenile arrest totals have been declining, LBB noted. Indeed, adult arrests declined in all categories except drug offenses, which increased over the period depicted (p.5). Going forward, "The slight projected increase in the [prison] population is primarily driven by a projected 1.1 percent increase in admissions and a slight slowing of parole and discretionary mandatory supervision (DMS) case considerations and approvals."
So, if the state enacts policies that cause admissions to decline, or for that matter if parole rates remain stable, Texas could have more excess capacity going forward, even, than these cautious LBB projections would have it. Implementing just a handful of de-incarceration polices would let the state shut down even more prison units and shift resources toward prison healthcare and treatment programming.