U.S. At “Tipping Point” On Corrections: Tx. Expert


One 1 out of every 20 Texans are under the control of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice either in prison, parole, or on probation, says the Texas Observer. Until the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council was de-funded almost two years ago, its director, Tony Fabelo, oversaw studies on everything from prison costs and upkeep to the effectiveness of drug treatment programs. In an interview, Fabelo says that in Texas, “with the highest incarceration rate in the country, with a projected shortfall in capacity of about 6,000 to 8,000 beds in the next five, six years, there is not enough capacity. If we build more prisons and build 8,000 prison beds, and that would cost a lot of money nowadays, probably over $1 billion, are you going to get dramatic declines in crime? The answer is no. [We] won't.”

Asked if the U.S. is at an ideological “tipping point” on corrections issues, Fabelo, who worked for George W. Bush as Texas governor and his predecessor, Ann Richards, says, “Yes. We have reached that in Texas. We have reached that tipping point, I think. Nationwide, you have that conversation where you have Senator Brownback from Kansas, for example, conservative Republican, talking about the need to improve re-entry, and actually being very involved in this issue nationwide along with what you might call more liberal elected officials.” Fabelo adds: “I think you have an ideological consensus that violent offenders should be locked up for a long time. But I also think you're getting a development of an ideological consensus about what we do in these communities with these drug offenders that are substance abusers. I don't think the consensus is clear yet there. There is a lot of debate around mandatory sentences and so forth. But I think there's a consensus developing. Now you can have that consensus and nothing gets done. So, you need the leadership to forge that consensus into something that gets done–and that is the key.”

Link: http://www.texasobserver.org/showArticle.asp?ArticleID=1889

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