Texas legislative leaders are looking to eliminate “deferred judgments” and allow judges to tailor criminals’ community supervision as part of sweeping reforms of the Texas probation system, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire hopes to announce details in about two weeks. House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden plans to study similar changes.
This week, Whitmire’s committee approved a measure that would require county probation programs to adopt progressive sanctions. Criminals who commit new crimes or break probation rules would get increasingly strict supervision each time they go off track. One change under discussion by both houses would abolish deferred judgments in which offenders are given probation with the understanding that they can avoid a criminal record if they don’t break the law again. Instead, probation would become the single alternative for a criminal conviction that does not include prison time.