Thursday, January 12, 2006

Overcowded Texas prisons put us at greater risk

Scott at Grits (hey, he likes carbs, I prefer protein) has an excellent post up about the crisis of overcowded prisons in Texas, and why that is a bad thing particularly for our safety. Go read the piece; here's an excerpt:

From the time Texas revolted against Mexico in 1836 until Ronald Reagan became president, the number of Texas prison beds grew from zero to a little less than 30,000. In the next 25 years, that number increased five-fold to more than 150,000, and the majority of new inmates were non-violent offenders. Even that rate of increase, though, can't keep up with new prison entries stemming from the Legislature's penchant for passing so-called penalty "enhancements" that don't take into account financial costs. We are at a crisis point -- the status quo is untenable.

The best way out of this imbroglio would be to follow the advice of one of my past campaign clients, former House Corrections Committee Chairman Ray Allen (R-Grand Prairie - he's sadly retiring from the Lege this year), who is fond of saying Texas should imprison only people "who we're afraid of, not those we're only mad at."

Update (1/14): Scott adds to his discussion by linking and commenting on a post at Houston Strategies.

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