Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Check out the Smart on Crime Coalition agenda

Texas' "Smart on Crime Coalition" is made up of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, ACLU of Texas, Goodwill, and the Texas Association of Business. Check out their agenda for the 84th Texas legislative session in 2015.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

More effectively address property offenses by updating damage thresholds in light of inflation. These thresholds have not been updated since 1993.

Good luck convincing prosecutors and victims this is a good idea.

Improve Texas’ state jail system:
(1) Decrease the state jail population by allowing individuals charged with certain felonies to serve probation terms rather than serving state jail sentences.

How do you make that decision? Just because someone is charged with a certain crime doesn't mean they engage in other crimes where they have not been caught nor does is take into account that the actual offense may actually be a higher level felony but because of plea agreements, crappy prosecutors, or poor police work, the charge has been reduced

(2) Require post-release supervision for greater reentry success.

That sounds like parole. And, expecting probation departments to handle that type of supervision is a bad idea.

Modify penalties for minor drug possession offenses and allow courts to divert individuals to a treatment program to address substance abuse, mental health, or other needs, when the offender is deemed by the court not to be a threat to public safety.

Who will do the deeming? If it is the defense counsel and the prosecutor with a rubber stamp from a Judge, then the decision will be based on anecdotal information and not a risk and needs assessment or substance abuse evaluation where public safety and treatment needs are truly assessed and evaluated.

Use the savings derived from diversion to strengthen existing treatment programs in the community or create tailored treatment programs, as necessary, to address possession offenses.

Often, offenders who are charged with possession are really drug dealers who were caught with a smaller amount than what you will find at their residence.

Improve probation incentives and outcomes to reduce unnecessary incarceration costs:
(1) Cap terms of incarceration for technical revocations at 270 days or half of the remaining probation term, whichever is shorter, for probationers who have at least six months remaining on their probation term, and who have no instant or prior violent or sex offense. Note: This should apply only on the first motion to revoke filed during the individual’s probation term; after serving the term of incarceration, the individual should return to probation for the remainder of his or her sentence.

This will be a nightmare for anyone to keep track of. Ii doubt there is a prosecutor, a judge, a probation officer, a defense counsel, a county clerk, a district clerk, etc. who will have even close to an idea how to track this type of incentive. Plus the offender really has no incentive. I can promise you they will prefer to just do their time and this will pan out if this type of legislation is passed causing unnecessary paperwork for everyone.

(2) Incentivize an offender’s use of probation by reducing certain nonviolent state jail offenses to misdemeanors upon successful completion of the probation term, and with approval of the prosecutor.

Great idea but no prosecutor will got for it. Neither will the Court. It sounds bad to the general public. A felony is a felony and a misdemeanor is a misdemeanor.

(3) Help probation departments fully implement localized “commitment reduction plans” to safely reduce the number of individuals who fail to meet their probation conditions and who are sent to prison.

Here is where the leg needs to stay out of the way of the probation department's operations. Judges don't want to be told what to do with their probationers. Commitment Reduction Plans probably will occur but they will negatively effect probation department's budgets.

Repeal Texas’ Driver Responsibility Program.

A repeal of this Program would be wonderful.