For the first time since the Texas prison system’s substance-abuse treatment programs began nearly 15 years ago, amid controversy over their cost and effectiveness, programs have no waiting list, reports the Austin American-Statesman. In years past, thousands of drug- and alcohol-addicted convicts had to wait for months – in some cases years – for space to open up in the treatment programs, filling prisons with felons who could have been paroled, and confounding a smooth transition of convicts from prisons to programs to parole.
But officials said that because the Legislature voted two years to ago greatly expand the treatment programs, the chronic backlog that had plagued them since their inception, at the behest of then-Gov. Ann Richards, is now gone. At the same time, the prison population has decreased slightly in recent months, part of a national trend.