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Texas Justice Reinvestment: Be More Like Texas?

NCJ Number
Justice Research and Policy Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Dated: 2010 Pages: 113-131
Tony Fabelo
Date Published
19 pages
In 2007, Texas elected officials faced a major dilemma: spend a half billion dollars to build and operate new prisons to accommodate the surging number of people expected to be incarcerated or explore options to control that growth. The Council of State Governments Justice Center assisted State officials with developing plans to address this potential crisis, in partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts Center on the Stateswhich in 2006 launched the Public Safety Performance Project to help States advance fiscally sound, data-driven sentencing and corrections policies to protect public safety and control corrections costsand the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice.
In response to this work the Texas legislature adopted, and the governor approved, a budget that included greater treatment capacity in the prison system and the expansion of diversion options in the probation and parole system. A total of 4,500 new diversion beds and 5,200 new program slots were funded. The final budget adopted by the legislature for the 2008-2009 biennium reflected an increase of $241 million in funding for additional diversion and treatment capacity. The expansion of these programs translated into a net savings of $443.9 million in the FY 2008-09 budget by reducing funding for contracted bed space and canceling funding for the construction of the new prison units originally proposed. The initiative has stabilized the growth of the Texas prison population. The increase in treatment capacity and intermediate sanction facilities funded by the initiative has helped to increase the number of people on probation connected to services and reduce the number revoked to prison. Looking at where Texas is today in the management of its State correctional policies in comparison to California, "be more like Texas" may not be a bad thing. Unlike in California, the actions of Texas policymakers has maintained the prison system operating within capacity, and, more importantly, has led to major strengthening in the treatment and community corrections system that should serve the State well in the future in terms of reducing correctional costs and improving public safety outcomes. References (Published Abstract)