Marc Levin: Texas Must Continue to Think Beyond the Cell
Date:  05-15-2017

Cutting probation budgets can undo years of reducing the state’s prison population
From the Houston Chronicle:

Texas has gained national acclaim for closing prisons while achieving declines in crime that exceed the national drop. Since 2005, crime has fallen 33.4 percent in Texas while the incarceration rate has declined 16.6 percent.

How did it happen? In 2005, the state launched a grant program whereby probation departments could receive additional funds to reduce caseloads if they adopted graduated sanctions to respond to technical violations like missing appointments and using alcohol or other drugs. Graduated sanctions, such as increased reporting, curfews, electronic monitoring, and weekend jail, are designed to promote compliance and thereby reduce the number of people revoked from probation to prison for technical violations. Then in 2007 Texas lawmakers opted against building new prisons and instead adopted a justice reinvestment package, which included expanding drug courts and substance abuse and mental health treatment programs to which judges could divert people to instead of prison. Continue reading >>