Wednesday, March 01, 2017

#Cut50 an aspirational goal TX won't meet soon

Today, the #Cut50 campaign is holding a multi-state action day, including a small event in Austin.

#Cut50 is a national proposal to reduce incarceration by 50 percent, which is a wildly ambitious suggestion by any measure. In Texas, for example, we've closed three prisons and are about to shutter more. But incarceration levels are down just 5.8 percent from their 2010 max.

Certainly, there are no proposals on the table right now to cut 50 percent of Texas' prison population, which is already declining thanks to falling crime and the Lege increasing property theft thresholds in 2015. While there are several smaller bills which could reduce populations slightly, perhaps the most impactful bill on imprisonment levels with a significant chance of passage this session is HB 2398 by Phil King, a Republican member of the Speaker's leadership team. That legislation would reduce penalties for low-level drug possession from a state jail felony to a Class A misdemeanor (though people would still pay higher, felony-level probation fees), while boosting penalties for (much less common) manufacturing/distribution charges to a third degree felony.

If it passes, HB 2398 should help cut Texas' incarceration levels, especially since drug cases have been driving felony case filings by Texas District Attorneys. (Go here to ask your state legislators to support this bill.)

But that legislation won't get us anywhere near 50 percent. Indeed, Grits has never been able to come up with a combination of policies I support which could cut more than 38-40 percent in Texas - still a huge number, but short of the aspirational #cut50 goal.

At this stage, it doesn't really matter. Big ships turn slowly. And for now, Grits' concern is more that the ship keep turning away from its prior path rather than to worry about whether its ultimate bearing leads to 20, 40, or 50 percent cuts. To my mind, each, incremental step must be worth taking on its own merits.

#Cut50 would be nice. For now, though, Grits will settle for #CutSome.

RELATED: From the Beaumont Enterprise, "'Lock 'em up' approach is costly, inefficient."


Anonymous said...

#CutSome is a good approach. Having worked in corrections for almost 20 years, it is apparent to me that most folks in Texas really love locking up scofflaws regardless of the weight of their crime. Sad. (as Trump would say)

Prison Doc

Anonymous said...

Start by releasing the over 60 age group of inmates at places like Skyview, in Rusk, where the invalids risk a fatal fall with every baby step they attempt.

Texas needs to stop paying for nursing homes----the federal government already has Medicare and Medicaid in place for that---we are all being cheated by a "get even" mentality that doesn't work since those on the receiving end, in many cases, don't even know where they are.

Unless a person poses a very real physical threat to the rest of us they should be fined until they wise up or relocate to another state that will have to deal with them.

The bogus cowboy tough idea hasn't worked for years and Texas should realize that those over 55, in the vast majority of cases, just want to see their families for awhile before they die as a result of the "less than Mayo clinic" level of health care they have gotten inside TDCJ.

Yes, younger violent "societal slow learners" deserve a helpful kick in the behind, so to speak, but blind grandfathers that can't walk need to be on the federal list of programs and not in our wallets because too many in Austin like to pay lip service to the bad Kabuki theater that Texas justice has become in too many cases.

Anonymous said...

Why are we wasting correctional officers on the regulation of those that should be in wheelchairs?

Is management even aware of what they have downstairs?

The four per cent budget reduction issue might well be solved by actually MANAGING to scale back those that would qualify for long term care in the real world.

The classification process is clearly being mismanaged.

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