Saturday, July 05, 2014

LBB: Texas prisons won't fill up as quickly as thought

The Texas Legislative Budget Board's new adult and juvenile prison population projections (pdf) are out and the good news is the bad news has been retracted.

Altering its earlier estimate that Texas' prisons would run short of capacity by the end of the decade, the Legislative Budget Board now says that "adult state incarcerated populations are projected to remain stable throughout fiscal years 2014 to 2019 and to remain, on average, 0.6 percent below TDCJ’s internal operating capacity."

Wading through the bureaucratese, this is remarkable news: Despite Texas' rapid population growth in recent years, both adult and (especially) juvenile arrest totals have been declining, LBB noted. Indeed, adult arrests declined in all categories except drug offenses, which increased over the period depicted (p.5). Going forward, "The slight projected increase in the [prison] population is primarily driven by a projected 1.1 percent increase in admissions and a slight slowing of parole and discretionary mandatory supervision (DMS) case considerations and approvals."

So, if the state enacts policies that cause admissions to decline, or for that matter if parole rates remain stable, Texas could have more excess capacity going forward, even, than these cautious LBB projections would have it. Implementing just a handful of de-incarceration polices would let the state shut down even more prison units and shift resources toward prison healthcare and treatment programming.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My cynicism tells me that the criminal justice industrial complex will soon be telling us how dangerous things are and the only solution is to jail more people. The other solution is to house all the border jumpers in Texas prisons and to never let any illegal alien convicted of a crime in Texas out of prison.

I see that some registered sex offenders who have completed their sentences could be returned to jail because the state cannot find housing on the outside.

There is no way our government will let our prison population decline.