This commentary originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on June 16, 2015.
Even before the last gavel ended the 84th Texas Legislature, much of the media coverage began centering on the failures and disappointments regarding many key issues. Unfortunately, this gloom-and-doom rhetoric has overshadowed many unprecedented successes and reforms, particularly in criminal justice.
In fact, the 84th session has given Texas its most momentous criminal justice reform since 2007. That session, instead of spending $2 billion to expand prisons, lawmakers applied conservative principles such as personal responsibility and fiscal restraint to solve an overcrowding problem. Some $241 million was invested in probation and rehabilitative programs such as drug courts. The results were lower recidivism and incarceration rates, not to mention billions saved for Texas taxpayers.
Glod is a policy analyst with the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.