Texas continues a march away from an Old West image of being tough on crime to one that state leaders call “smart on crime” and fiscally “right on crime,” the Houston Chronicle reports. The state Board of Pardons and Parole says more prisoners were paroled this past fiscal year than any other year in the past decade, and fewer parolees are being sent back. The board boasts that 24,342 offenders were approved for parole from Sept. 1, 2010, to Aug. 31, 2011. That was 31 percent of all who applied and an approval rate that is six percentage points higher than 10 years ago. At the same time, the number carted back to prison this past fiscal year after their parole was revoked plummeted by 44 percent from a high of 11,374 in 2004.
“We are pleased with our continuing increase in granting parole,” said board chairwoman Rissie Owens. “The use of our parole guidelines to assess the likelihood of a successful parole outcome has been cited as a national model for its positive impact on returning more offenders to productive lives.” The Association of Paroling Authorities International has praised Texas’ system, which many other states are copying, said board spokesman Harry Battson. Victim rights groups, such as Parents of Murdered Children, worry about parolees committing new crimes.