Despite declining crime, the number of people entering Texas prisons each year has remained remarkably stable, says the Grits for Breakfast blog. Prison admissions due to probation revocations remained fairly steady since 2005, declining by a scant 3 percent. Parole revocations declined 38 percent while the rate of prisoner releases on parole ticked up slightly.
By contrast, felony prosecutions resulting in direct prison sentences actually increased 12 percent since 2005, despite overall crime declines. That explains why the Legislative Budget Board projects, paradoxically, that prison admissions will increase in coming years. The trend can’t be explained by crime rates or arrest patterns and appears to stem primarily from prosecutorial charging and plea bargain decisions. Although the state has curbed the growth of incarceration levels, Texas’ results are disappointing compared to jurisdictions that incarcerate far fewer people, says Grits for Breakfast. Texas houses more prisoners today than any other state including much-more populous California.