Despite nationally noted criminal justice reforms, Texas still has a fragmented system for releasing offenders into communities with thousands returning to prison after their release, says an oversight report from the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission quoted by the San Antonio Express-News. Sunset commission staff reported that “no written plan exists” nearly three years after lawmakers approved legislation requiring a re-entry plan.
There also is no comprehensive assessment of offender risks and needs, according to the report. It said case management is fragmented and information sharing is limited among the criminal justice agency, the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Windham School District, which serves the criminal justice system. Besides calling for a written plan, the commission recommended requiring a system-wide risk and needs assessment for offenders and an individual treatment plan. The recommendations will go to the Legislature, which convenes in regular session in January. “Re-entry is a key component of running a successful criminal justice system,” said Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, a Sunset member. “When you release somebody out of prison and we don’t have a re-entry plan for them, you’re greatly increasing the chance that they’ll fail.”