Sunday, December 4, 2011

Texas Reviews Criminal Justice Policy, Part I

The Texas Legislature will review the operation of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Board of Pardons.  The Liberals and Conservatives have different views on the operation of government.  Here is the Conservative position on criminal justice in Texas.

Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, agrees that sentencing and the prison population should be reviewed. He said the state must prioritize its prison space to keep threats to society behind bars but should steer lower-level offenders, like individuals convicted of minor drug possession, out of jail, reported the Texas Tribune.

"We have about 17,000 low-level drug possession offenders in our Texas prisons right now," Levin said. "Not all of them would be eligible under this because it excludes those with prior significant felony convictions and so forth. But it certainly would save several hundred millions of dollars."

But even with the lure of saving state money, it can be tough to convince Texas officials to change sentencing policy. Levin counters that state incarceration rates and crime rates have declined over the last six years. And he isn't just saying that people shouldn't be sent to prison no matter what: If they don't pose a threat, he said, put them in a strict probation program with monitoring and even treatment options. Levin said that will lower costs and recidivism rates.

Later we will review the Liberal position on crime and justice.

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