Sunday, November 19, 2017

Lege to study what 'gaps in services' contribute to recidivism of young offenders

The Texas House Corrections Committee received several "interim charges" recently, including one directing them to study:
current Texas criminal justice system policies and practices regarding 17- to 25-year-olds, specific to probation, parole, state jail confinement, and discharge from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or county jail. Review any gaps in services that may be causing this population to recidivate. Make recommendations to improve the state's response to the needs of this population in order to lower revocation, re-arrest, and reincarceration rates.
As the Legislature considers "gaps in services" which may contribute to unmet "needs" of offenders age 17-25 that "may be causing this population to recidivate," it's worth pointing out that Amanda Marzullo of the Texas Defender Service and I did a segment on this topic in August, and another in the November episode of the Reasonably Suspicious podcast, the latter of which for convenience I've excerpted here:


In addition, I was interested to learn this week that England and Wales have special youth prisons carved out for 18-20 year olds, and reformers there have proposed extending that to age 25, although those facilities have a record of abuse toward inmates that rivals some of the recent Gainesville allegations. Their main problems, as with Texas youth prisons, derive from understaffing.

I'd like to dig into the debate in the U.K. a little more to digest the arguments being presented on both sides. I thought this was particularly effective messaging from the above-linked article:
Alex Hewson, of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “A justice system which throws young people off a cliff edge on their 18th birthday, and expects them to fend for themselves in the adult system when they are still maturing and often vulnerable, is not one that is set up to deliver for offenders, victims or local communities.
Instinctively, based on my own life experience, what I've witnessed of young people in the justice system, as well as what I've seen of the relevant brain science (which admittedly is all second and third hand), the idea that special systems or rules might need to be created for this group to generate best outcomes doesn't seem far-fetched. I'm really glad the Lege will be studying it.

Related:

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Review any gaps in services that may be causing this population to recidivate."...My God, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that a Republican Texas legislature would use this type of liberal, feel good, psycho-babble. Wanna know what causes that "population to recidivate?" The same thing that causes anyone to recidivate. It's called personal choice, responsibility, individual will, or lack of personal accountability. There is no "smart on crime" program ever invented, or likely to be invented, that will prevent someone who is determined to do wrong from doing wrong.

Anonymous said...

So what's your "final solution" of the us and them world you live in?

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ.

Steven Seys said...

The primary reason that offenders recidivate is the same reason they were incarcerated in the first place, contempt for other people and/or a hedonistic outlook on life. If you want to end recidivism, teach morality and ethics. And there's no better way to teach these than the Christian faith.

Steven Seys said...

Amen and amen

wolf sittler said...

We live in a time when simplistic analysis of complex problems is all the rage. There are multiple reasons why individuals commit crimes, and those cannot neatly fit under the heading of "contempt for other people and/or hedonistic outlook on life". In addition once a person is sent to prison, it is the stated responsibility of that Texas institution to "promote positive change in offender behavior, to reintegrate offenders into society". Recidivism is partly the responsibility of TDCJ. Without the vision, design, and funding to achieve their goal, and with no accountability for failure, we'll continue to see individuals released from prison unprepared for life in the real world. The fact that additional barriers make life after prison more difficult, is no help. Much more needs to be done on the front end, before prison becomes the last stop, and logical consequence, of social policy and inadequate safety nets.

Professor Mom said...

Ditto to what Wolf said.

Anonymous said...

8:06 and 6:14, I just have no tolerance for your incredibly uninformed, simple-minded, and uncritical analysis of what is an extremely complex social issue. Maybe that's your assessment of some kid who goes to your church who seems to be a bit off-kilter, but even then, I'll bet there's waaaaay more to it than is evident to your judgmental eye. Sure you're entitled to your own opinion but please don't pollute the airways with it until you can back it up with research, data and information. Some of us are actually trying to get something done here.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Recidivism, whether among 'kids' or adults, has always been a problem and will continue to be a problem because there is a culture of criminality in places where they grew up.

The low recidivism rate Texas parole authorities tout cannot be believed. Nationwide the recidivism rate is between 50 and 60 percent. Someone here is manipulating parole outcomes.

Wolf notes that Texas prisons are supposed to"promote positive change in offender behavior, to reintegrate offenders into society." So is every other prison in this country. There is no way any prison can accomplish that. Prisons are not open college campuses. Promote positive change in behavior ... just how can you do that in a prison? And how do you reintegrate inmates into society when for years they've been told when to shit, shower, shut up, get up, go here and there, do this and that, and all their basic needs are provided for them.

When I was on the faculty of Sam Houston State University, I volunteered to conduct group therapy sessions for trouble-making inmates at the Ferguson Unit. I also conducted pre-parole classes at Ferguson. But there was little I could really do to prepare them for what they would experience in the free society after having been in the strictly controlled prison society.

The leg can conduct its study, but in the end recidivism will continue to go its merry way.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's "gaps in services" that caused them to reoffend. Those who reoffended are not responsibile for their own behavior. It wasn't his finger that pulled the trigger, it was that dang gap.

John Orr said...

Recidivism affects all ages and focus to narrow. To prevent recidivism provide opportunities for training and jobs which Texas workforce commision fails miserably in.

Anonymous said...

Juvenile and/or young offenders...

When solutions to juvenile/youthful offenders are based on independent longitudinal data rather than emotional anecdotal stories, outcomes will improve. Until then lets just keep doing the same old thing expecting different results.