Looking at Texas’ nation-leading prisoner numbers, some analysts were confused between the 152,303 count for last year provided by state officials and the 166,372 total from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Scott Henson of the Grits for Breakfast blog says the difference is mostly in a figure of 13,000+ state prisoners in county jails for various reasons. Henson says that overall, there are fewer people locked up in Texas prisons and state jails. He gives more credit to the parole board for increasing parole rates than to 2007 reforms in the probation system.
More changes are possible, such as reducing the penalty for low-level marijuana possession, but legislative leaders have refused to let bills on the subject go to the floor for a vote. Henson concludes: “My sense is that Texas’ prison population will go a little lower, still, on its current trajectory, so long as the parole board’s approval rates don’t decline again. I suspect we can even close one or two more prisons.”