Council on Sex Offender Treatment
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During the second week of February, Speaker Straus named the committee assignments for the Texas House of Representatives of the 82nd Legislative Session. In this week’s article, I want to review the Corrections Committee. The Corrections Committee is tasked with dealing with an array of important issues that are currently facing the State of Texas.
The Corrections Committee is composed of nine House members. I am a member of this committee. This committee will have legislative jurisdiction on all matters pertaining to:
• the incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted felons;
• the establishment and maintenance of programs that provide alternatives to incarceration;
• the commitment and rehabilitation of youths;
• the construction, operation, and management of correctional facilities of the state and facilities used for the commitment and rehabilitation of youths;
• juvenile delinquency and gang violence;
• criminal law, prohibitions, standards, and penalties as applied to juveniles;
• criminal procedure in the courts of Texas as it relates to juveniles;
In addition to having legislative jurisdiction over these matters, the committee will also be tasked with overseeing nine state agencies. These agencies are:
• the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,
• the Special Prosecution Unit,
• the Board of Pardons and Paroles,
• the Texas Youth Commission,
• the Office of Independent Ombudsman of the Texas Youth Commission,
• the Council on Sex Offender Treatment,
• the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments,
• the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission,
• the Advisory Council on Juvenile
The State of Texas, like many others states across the country, is working to get a handle on an ever growing prison population. Currently, there are approximately 156,028 inmates located in 112 correctional facilities located throughout the state; of those in prison, 315 are on death row. In addition to those 156,028 inmates, there are 80,929 individuals on parole and under active supervision. While these numbers represent those currently in prison or on parole, another 419,561 individuals are classified as probationers, including both felony and misdemeanor cases under direct, indirect and pretrial supervision.
In order for the State of Texas to maintain and provide for the necessary management and administration of these individuals, the state spends $3.1 billion annually. Out of the $3.1 billion, approximately $463.4 million of those dollars are spent on healthcare services provided to the states inmate population. These figures are compounded due to the fact the inmate population has increased over the past ten years from 144,983 in 2001 to more than 156,028 in 2010. These figures represent a substantial cost to the state’s biannual budget.
Some additional interesting facts are that the recidivism rate for prison inmates is 24.3 percent over a three year period, which means 24.3 percent of released offenders are re-incarcerated within three years of their release. As high as this rate is, it is in fact low relative to other states. Additionally of the 156,028 inmates in confinement, 3,522 are in Substance Abuse Felony Punishment (SAFP) Facilities.
If you would like to start following any of the bills that have already been referred to the Corrections committee or any of the other bills which have been filed and referred to other committees, these websites serve as a great resource:
• The Texas Legislature
• The Texas House of Representatives
• The Texas Senate
If you have questions or comments regarding any of the information mentioned in this article or any bills which have been filed, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).