Monday, October 16, 2006

TDCJ Sunset Review Recommends Rehab, Strengthening Probation and Parole

I haven't had a chance to take a examine it closely yet, but here's the staff report (pdf) from the Texas Sunset Commission on the Department of Criminal Justice. See also the agency's self-evaluation (pdf).

For you non-Texans, the Sunset Commission evaluates all state agencies every 12 years to determine if they still serve a purpose or should be "sunseted" out of commission. The Legislature by law must pass new legislation for the agency to continue to exist. Often, "sunset" legislation becomes a vehicle for the Legislature's full evaluation of an agency, leading to signfiicant reforms.

So a critique by the Sunset Commission could easily become the basis for significant changes in how the Texas' corrections system does business. Thus I was glad to see their very first recommendation: "By not adequately addressing offender rehabilitation needs, the state's criminal justice system may not reduce recidivism, increasing the prison population." That's true, and it's great to see it highlighted so prominently.

Two other Sunset recommendations will be familiar to regular Grits readers:
  • "Supervising low-risk probationers who could be released from probation early diverts limited resources from probationers needing more intensive supervision," and
  • "Keeping low-risk offenders on parole and mandatory supervision who could be released early can divert limited TDCJ resources from best use."
Very encouraging. More later when I've had a chance to go through the full report, but I wanted to get the link out there for anyone who is interested.

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