Thursday, January 25, 2007

Texas incarceration far outstrips population growth

A couple of people have told me they had trouble understanding the chart in the previous post, so let me bottom line it for you.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst says we need more prisons because of "population growth." But from 1978 until 2004, the Texas prison population increased 573% (from 22,439 to 151,059), while the state's total population increased just 67% (from 13.5 million to 22.5 million).

That's right - a 573% increase in prisoners and a 67% increase in population over the same period.

So tell me again how population growth is driving Texas incarceration?


Jason said...

How many of those are repeat offenders?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I tried to get a quick answer from the Sunset Commission report and staff response, which are all linked here, but I can't entirely tell. I do know that Texas has among the lowest recidivism rates in the country, and I discussed those stats recently here and here. So that implies that fewer are repeat offenders than might be the case in other states.

Quismada said...

We don't need more prisons and we certainly don't need more "prison towns" like Gatesville, Tennessee Colony, Marlin..just to name a few. The way I see it, we create a prison town and then we have to keep the prisons full to support the prison town and all the guards that work at the prison. What this state needs is to force the parole board to follow their own rules and start letting some of the prison population go home. The programs Whitmire and Madden have talked about will make a difference for all of us. We also can't rely on the old recidivism speeches because many who are revoked are done so on a technicality such as not paying their parole fees on time.
I just wish the citizenry of this state could understand what it costs to keep a person in prison versus getting them in a program and back to work.
If we build more prisons it will mean someone in Austin is getting a kickback...can I prove it, no. Do I feel it, yes.
Where are we going to get guards to work these new prisons? We can't keep the good ones we have so we are now hiring babies straight out of high school with no life skills and usually, no common sense.
Seems like we are on an endless journey of stupidity and it has to stop at some point.

Anonymous said...

Now aren't these numbers a little skewed considering Texas houses inmates from other states. I believe have of Wisconsin's inmate population is in Texas prisons.

Anonymous said...

We dont need more prisons. I have seen inmates warehoused for years. there are no REAL alternative programs offered for inmates. We have 120 units, and 150,000 inmates. 5 prison units are dedicated to substance abuse. And those units are all small 500-1000 man units. There has to be a balance somewhere. If we keep seeing the same guy back every 2-3 years with yet another DWI conviction, that tells you that we are lacking social programs to stop, or at least slow that down. Texas' lock em' up and throw away the key is not gonna help you when they warehouse a guy infor dealing drugs, he gets no help, he doesnt learn a trade, he learns more crime from other inmates, and then cant get a job when he gets out. If i was his nieghbor, i would be worried. What about you?


Gritsforbreakfast said...

@NCIC: No, the numbers aren't "skewed." Inmates from other states are housed in private prisons in Texas, not state-owned facilities. Private prisons, immigration detention, and juvie detention, are not included in these incarceration growth figures. For that matter the 573% also doesn't include the 80-90,000 incarcerated in county jails - only adult, Texas felons convicted in state courts. best,

Jason said...

I also forgot to ask how many inmates are illegals?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'm not sure why it matters as far as whether more prisons are needed, but the answer on immigrants is a small percentage, in the scheme of things. Best stats I've seen on the topic I blogged about here.

Anonymous said...

We don't need more prisons, we need the BPP to do their job and get caught up. There are many waiting to be interviewed and the BPP is so far behind, do we need more interviewers?

What are the qualifications for a person who makes a decision regarding someone's life? I hope they are better equipped than some of the jurors that get selected.

I am tired of hearing about just think, the jobs a prison will bring to town. That is not the object here and retention rates of guards is unreal. The prisons are hiring retired guards to work the weekends so the regular guards can have a weekend off. That is how short handed they are.

Close the old prisons such as "The Walls", I hear the doors won't even open and close, now how safe is that?

I pray Rep Madden and Senator Whitmire get most of their bills passed, they have worked hard and long to write these bills and deserve a standing ovation.