A study of Texas parolees by the Urban Institute found that more than one fourth of 2001 parolees went to a single county, and about a quarter of those wound up in some of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The report, the first phase in a three-year study, looks at statewide statistics on prisoner release but will focus in its later phases on Harris County and Houston, the destination of the largest percentage of returning prisoners.
“A Portrait of Prisoner Re-entry in Texas,” a $2 million study by the non-partisan Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., is the first in Texas to systematically examine “the experience of prisoner re-entry from the perspective of the prisoners and family,” said Stu Kantor, institute spokesman.
State and city officials said the report would focus attention on an increasing problem as larger numbers of prisoners are released back into society.
Of 55,183 men and women released from Texas prisons in 2001, 58 percent returned to five of the state’s 254 counties: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis, according to the study.
About 26 percent, or 14,129, returned to Harris County, more than any other county. Dallas, the county with the next largest number of returning prisoners, received 7,971 convicts.
In Harris County, the largest percentage of returning prisoners, 36 percent, had been convicted of a drug offense, 33 percent of property offenses, and 17 percent of violent crimes.
Nancy La Vigne, project coordinator for the study, said the effort will be focused on the 6,641 prisoners, or 47 percent, released in Harris County on supervised parole because they were easier to track than those released without supervision.
Of that number, 26 percent wound up in some of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods: Alief, East Houston, Third Ward-MacGregor, Kashmere Gardens, East Little York-Homestead, and Trinity-Houston Gardens.
“All but one of these neighborhoods received close to or more than 200 released supervised releases in 2001, higher than the number returning to some entire counties in Texas,” the study said.
The study points out that East Houston is home to the Reid Community Corrections Facility, a halfway house for those just out of prison. A spokesman for the halfway house said it typically houses 425-450 parolees, which would more than account for the 348 counted by the study.
Kahan said the statistics also were skewed by the presence of several halfway houses for sex offenders in Alief.
“Some of these areas are among the Houston neighborhoods most affected by poverty, unemployment, crime and other challenges,” the study said.