Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Actions speak louder than words for Rs on criminal justice

I'm not complaining or nothing, but I'm surprised not even to see a mention of criminal justice issues in the Texas Public Policy Foundation's legislative briefing book. They're considered the Texas Republican leadership's most closely-trusted think tank, but they didn't mention Texas' looming overincarceration crisis nor offer proposals to solve it, focusing instead on the need to stop the state from delivering services that the market could deliver, and lessening the tax burden on businesses.

So far, most Republican voices speaking out on Texas criminal justice issues have had good things to say (meaning, naturally, that I broadly agree with them). The House Appropriations Committee chairman is
opposed to building more prisons. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee recommended no new prisons but unanimously backed expanding probation and drug courts. Two Republican former chairmen of the House Corrections Committee are pushing for more treatment services and fixing the probation system. What's more, the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, led by a Republican former sheriiff, recommended abolishing Texas' drug task force system in December, a position echoed last week by President Bush in his new budget.

Perhaps actions speak louder than words. Certainly it's more evidence of Doc Berman's observation that a "new right" may be developing on criminal justice reform.


Vince said...

I am not at all surprised that the Texas Public Policy Foundation doesn't have any criminal justice issues on its agenda. As long as I've followed the group, they never have.

I've always viewed the TPPF as just another far-right-wing group with its focus on issues of main importance to the religious and ultra-conservative right, ie far-flung fiscal conservation issues and social issues important to the right wing specifically.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I thought after the Rs took power that it looked like TPPF was hoping to expand its influence by positioning themselves as go-to thinkers on the state's major issues. I expected them to expand their issue areas to try to play more of a Heritage-Foundation type role, not to just stick with their handful of pet issues. Like I said, I'm not complaining. I'm not sure TPPF would have taken the same tack -- decreasing reliance on incarceration -- that the leadership has taken this year.