Tuesday, January 09, 2007

TCJC offers prescription for healthy justice system

Looking for a one-stop source for new ideas on fixing Texas' bloated criminal justice system?

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has produced an extensive policy primer covering a wide range of safety issues, suggesting reforms to improve public safety using limited resources while also protecting people's rights. See the full document. (Conflict alert: I office at TCJC, I'm listed among a number of readers for the document and provided limited editing and policy advice.)

The criminal justice reform movement in Texas has gotten a lot of mileage over the last few years by focusing on offering solutions to problems instead of simply lobbing criticisms from the back bench. This primer continues that more productive, less confrontational approach. Most solutions discussed are designed with an eye toward bi-partisan appeal, basing policies on shared values among disparate constituencies rather than dwelling on more divisive approaches.

I thought they did a really good job, and their work should be especially appreciated by legislators and staffers who must confront these issues this spring. Kudos to Ana, Rebecca, Molly, Ken and everyone else at TCJC who worked hard hard on this primer.


Anonymous said...

I've read a few parts of it now, and I have to say, if these people can come up with such sensible ideas to take TDCJ forward, why on earth cant the legislators see it too? The figures quoted are quite staggering in some parts, this one caught my eye:

"while 462 inmates currently approved for
release are still incarcerated solely because they cannot secure an address."

This is terrible! And why does anyone think that these inmates cannot secure an address? Because they've been removed too far and too much from anyone who might want to stick by them. TDCJ doesnt have to do all this by itself, there is a whole army of friends and family willing to help out here, willing to work WITH TDCJ to help everyone, yet we are constantly seen as trash for sticking with our inmates. I dont advocate for everyone to be released early, I know there are some who really should never be released, but there are a LOT of inmates who could be supervised in the community if only the legislators stopped assuming that to be tough on crime the only thing to do is to lock people up and throw away the key.

The pre-release programmes MUST be extended, what is the point in telling an inmate that they can be released in 6 months if they do a particular course, only for the inmate to then find that the waiting list for that course is over 2 years long? TDCJ needs to look at alternatives to the programmes already in place ~ yes drug abuse is a HUGE problem, but a course on how to manage limited finances and childcare may be just as useful and effective in the long run.

And if Texas has over 100 laws prohibiting ex-offenders from gaining employment, you have to ask whether drug abuse really IS the main cause of recidivism or is it just dealing from the bottom of the deck?

Anonymous said...

TDCJ needs to clean up their act. They tend to speak out both sides of their mouths.

To build more prisons is a terrible idea and when I heard my Representative say that on the news, after saying he would never do that, I am totally disheartened.

There are people in prisons who do not belong there, but the justice system is still in the George W. Bush mode, and how did he stay out of prison. Money walks and you know what talks.

Most of those in prison can not pay the high price of the bonds set by judges who are only out to further their careers and do not care about the person standing there in front of them. They would rather see a family totally distroyed than to try to help that person, who only needs help and not prison.

The DA's get by with lying and saying whatever they want to say as most of the cases are decided before it goes to the court room by the judge and the DA. Jurors need to know, most of the DA's are ADA's new kids on the block just trying to get through an internship so they can get a real job and make the big bucks than do an honest job and they do not care what or who they hurt.

I thought this was America! Our forefathers would turn over in their graves to find out what is going on. I have a great grand father who fought in the Revolutionary War and he would not believe what this judicial system has come to. I am totally disgusted with the State of Texas and our legislators. They don't stand up and do what is right they just play follow the leader.