While Texas’ prison numbers have come down from their highest levels in the mid-late 1990s, in 2019 nearly 700,000 people were arrested, 130,000 for drug violations alone. Texas’ high arrest numbers stem from the state’s reliance on a criminal justice (vs. public health) response to solve a vast array of societal problems, including substance use disorder, mental health issues, homelessness, and trauma. Today, nearly half of people serving time in Texas’ prison system (and 75% of people entering) are there for nonviolent offenses or probation violations, costing taxpayers more than $3.5 million per day.
TCJC is fighting to shift corrections dollars towards effective, community-based treatment options; prioritizing pre-arrest and pretrial interventions will continually reduce incarceration and provide opportunities for people to get back on their feet. We also seek to reduce the penalty for drug possession, as well as require probation departments to be more accountable for the success of those they supervise.
Click here to see TCJC's legislative progress in 2019.