With the Texas criminal justice system taking heat as being too harsh and unreliable, Gov. Rick Perry created an advisory board that he said would help the state move toward “a more perfect system of justice.” The Governor’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council will research and advise state leaders on issues such as forensic labs, adherence to international treaties and federal directives that affect the way Texas administers justice. Two years ago, Perry eliminated funding for the Criminal Justice Policy Council, saying it had completed its mandate to address prison overcrowding, notes the Dallas Morning News.
Critics said the board’s director, Tony Fabelo, had angered state leaders with his recommendations. The new council will not have a paid staff or director, nor will it have any policy-making authority. Several recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have moved dozens of inmates off Texas’ death row, including a recent ruling that states can’t execute people who were younger than 18 when they committed the crime. In 2003, the court banned the execution of the mentally retarded – two years after Perry vetoed a similar ban on the state level.