Texas avoided building a projected 17,000 new prison beds in 2005 but still managed to reduce crime. Part of the credit, says the Texas Public Policy Foundation in a new report, goes to the parole system. In 2009, out of 76,607 parole-eligible cases, 23,182 inmates were placed on some kind of parole supervision. The number of parolees revoked to prison has sharply declined from 11,311 in 2004 to 6,678 in 2010, reflecting a drop in both new crimes and technical violations serious enough to warrant revocation.
The parole system is designed to ensure those leaving prison are under supervision during their initial reentry into society and to promote order in prisons by providing inmates with an incentive for good behavior, but it is also the primary means by which the state controls the size and cost of the prison population, says the report. Some states use “truth-in-sentencing” policies that don't allow for an appraisal of inmates' behavior in prison and
efforts at self-improvement through rehabilitation programs.