Sunday, August 25, 2013

State justice system constrains liberty of 3.4% 3.7% of Texas adults: How to reduce the government footprint

Yesterday Grits spent a couple of hours going through a recent, fact-laden report (pdf) from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, pulling out interesting tidbits and money quotes to highlight. Then I asked the missus for an edit and the text was accidentally deleted, leaving nothing but the above title. I'm not doing it again but if you'd like a high-level overview of Texas prison, probation and parole systems, TCJC has it for you.

One bit that I will re-create: According to TCJC, as of Aug. 31, 2012 Texas had 152,303 prisoners locked up, and another 493,340 people were supervised on probation or parole. Combining those figures and dividing by Texas' estimated adult population in 2012 (source), we discover that 3.4% of Texas adults had their liberty constrained by state government in 2012 in some form or fashion via the justice system.

The report includes recommendations on how to reduce the government footprint through a variety of sentencing and probation reforms.

UPDATE (9/1): I suppose we should round out this number by adding in the 67,096 Texas county jail inmates. That gets you to 3.7% of the adult population in prison, jail, on probation or on parole.


Anonymous said...

Scott, what's the number of available beds? Any idea?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Not long ago Sen. John Whitmire said there were enough empty beds to close the 2,000+ bed Connally unit. Don't know beyond that. The numbers have been steadily but only slightly declining.

Anonymous said...

What would be the total number of beds within the entire state prison system? I'm trying to ascertain how they go about filling them. In other words, is there a website where judges, parole and probation officers can visit to see how many open slots there are? Back in the early 1990's I went on a ride-a-long with an HPD officer. He explained to me that the city and county jails were filled and that his sergeant had told all the officers at roll call that night to not make any unnecessary arrests because they didn't have any room. I'm wondering if the state works in a similar fashion. Does the parole board get a readout at times that tells them how many convicts are waiting in county lockups for a bed to open in the state prisons? Honestly, it seems like it would have to be a huge administrative operation to track releases and incoming inmates. I realize many sit in county jails for months on end awaiting space to open up. But I'm just wondering how the system has never overloaded itself to the breaking point. I don't know of anyone who can provide an answer other than you. Thanks!