With the Texas Legislature set to begin the state review process for the state Department of Criminal Justice and the Board of Pardons and Paroles in January, advocacy groups have already begun lobbying the Sunset Advisory Commission, which will conduct the review, says the Texas Tribune. “As a human rights organization, our perspective is that these conditions are cruel and unusual, they violate the Constitution, and that it’s illegal to house prisoners in these conditions,” said Scott Medlock of the Texas Civil Rights Project. The group has told the commission of what it considers inadequate health care for prisoners.
Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, agrees that sentencing and the prison population should be reviewed. He said the state must prioritize its prison space to keep threats to society behind bars but should steer lower-level offenders, like individuals convicted of minor drug possession, out of jail to strict probation. “We have about 17,000 low-level drug possession offenders in our Texas prisons right now,” Levin said. “Not all of them would be eligible under this because it excludes those with prior significant felony convictions and so forth. But it certainly would save several hundred millions of dollars.”