TX Passed Criminal Justice Bills, Failed To Cut Prison Spending


The recently concluded session of the Texas legislature failed to curb police abuses, rein in asset forfeiture or address sentencing issues, allowing the corrections budget to “balloon massively” (by nearly a half billion dollars over two years), says the Grits for Breakfast blog. Texas led the states with more than 168,000 prisoners as of 2013, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. In addition, new Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed some criminal justice bills that did pass “based on deeply flawed reasoning,” the blog asserts.

Despite those flaws, the overall record of the legislature includes “a pretty impressive array of criminal-justice policy accomplishments.” Among them: eliminating the “pick a pal” system that allowed judges to pick members of grand juries, decriminalizing truancy, shifting juvenile incarceration from state youth prisons to regional detention centers, creating an innocence commission to study causes of false convictions, and providing habeas corpus relief to defendants who are falsely convicted based on “junk science.”

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