Study: Texans abandoning tough-on-crime stance in favor of non-prison alternatives

December 11, 2013

For the first time in decades, Texans are abandoning their “tough-on-crime” position and leaning more towards rehabilitation and non-prison alternatives, according to a new study by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

According to the report, “Legislators responded to a state projection that they would need to spend $2 billion on 17,000 new prison beds, and instead put a smaller amount, about $243 million, into alternatives for nonviolent offenders such as probation, drug courts, and mental health treatment.”

Crime dropped to its lowest rate since 1968 and instead of building the new beds, three prisons were closed. One facility is the Central Unit in Sugar Land.

A report, polling 1,001 people shows:

“Eighty-eight percent of respondents said the most important thing when dealing with nonviolent criminals was rehabilitation, punishment, or compensating victims. Only 8 percent said the most important thing was sending a message.”

“Eighty-seven percent said that rather than treating all criminals the same, they would prefer tailored approaches to treating drug and mental health problems in nonviolent offenders.”

And

“Seventy-nine percent would back alternatives to incarcerating many drug offenders.”

Expanding effective alternatives on incarceration could save the state $2 billion in prison costs, the study shows.

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