New Bill Aims to Reduce Criminal Recidivism
Posted on Jun 19, 2013 8:02am UTC
A new piece of legislation authored by a Texas state representative recently passed the state House, garnering considerable attention for its lofty goals to reduce recidivism – the term used to describe convicted offenders’ returns to lives of crime and incarceration. House Bill 2811 made its way through the Texas House of Representatives on April 7, and is touted to save money, improve the lives of inmates and citizens, and reduce recidivism rates.
Recidivism has long been one of the most problematic concerns in the U.S. criminal justice system. While all instances of convicts committing crime after being released can never be entirely eliminated, local jails and prisons throughout Texas have seen improvements in reducing recidivism rates. This reduction – owed in part to the introduction of inmate-oriented services and education – will get renewed attention with the passing of HB 2811. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), prison recidivism rates in Texas hover around 31 percent, while rates for jails are about 26 percent. The TDCJ reports that probation revocation rates have declined every year since 2007, with the exception of the past two years, during which rates of recidivism remained the same.
HB 2811 is a commendable initiative that focuses on a concern that has plagued the criminal justice system and communities throughout the nation for years. Rather than focusing on simple punishment and incarceration, the bill proposes new efforts to promote rehabilitation in state jails and prisons. Services designed to provide inmates with support, faith-based guidance, education, and needed treatment and counseling – including Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous – can help them become better prepared for reentry into society. According to the bill’s author, lifestyle changes are also essential to preventing convicted criminals from committing future offenses.
In the long-term, and if successful, the bill can potentially save Texas millions of dollars in expenses stemming from crime and inmate costs. According to statistics reported to the House, it costs an average of $45 a day to house, feed, and detain one inmate. Currently, management of crime and incarceration consume a substantial portion of the Texas state budget – coming in fourth after roadways, Medicaid, and education. If only 25 inmates were to be released and not return to incarceration, the state could save more than one million dollars a year.
While lofty, HB 2811 presents a plan that is difficult to argue with or oppose. Criminal law creates boundaries over which no citizen should cross and penalties for those who do. As many individuals and families who have faced the criminal justice system know, crossing boundaries is often the result of a mistake, of lack of judgment, and of poor circumstances. By providing inmates with the support they need and helping to rehabilitate convicted offenders, Texas jails and prisons can significantly reduce costs associated with crime and incarceration, as well as help those in need become prepared to make the transition to society. Helping convicted offenders gain the skills and tools to become productive members of society is a plan that creates too many benefits and solves too many problems to oppose – we just have to see if it is an effective one.
Passionate Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys
Throughout the years, our Houston criminal defense attorneys have seen opinions and laws evolve, and the ways in which the U.S. criminal justice system has shifted toward a focus on rehabilitation. At Billy Skinner & Associates, we go above and beyond mere legal representation by personally investing ourselves into our clients’ cases. We not only strive to protect our clients’ rights and freedoms, but also their futures.
We know that by fully supporting our clients through these difficult times, pushing for alternative sentencing options when applicable, and fighting for a second chance, we can help those who have made unfortunate mistakes find the opportunity needed to turn their life around. If you or your loved one has been charged with a crime in Houston or any of the surrounding communities, place your trust in a firm that care about your case and your future. Contact Billy Skinner & Associates today