FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Marla Mathews
May 3, 2019 Phone: 512-422-3412 (m)
ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE APPLAUDS TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOR SUPPORTING REFORMS TO PROBATION SYSTEM
HOUSE BILL 3512 BY REP. LEO PACHECO/SENATE BILL 2188 PUTS FOCUS ON EFFECTIVE REHABILITATION TO BREAK CYCLE OF CRIME
AUSTIN, TX, May 3, 2019–The Texas House of Representatives today passed criminal justice reform legislation that will prioritize rehabilitation over incarceration, a position supported and applauded by the Alliance For Safety and Justice (ASJ) and crime survivors across Texas.
“It might be surprising to some, but survivors of crime overwhelmingly support efforts to help people in the justice system successfully reintegrate into society,” said Terra Tucker, Texas State Director for Alliance for Safety and Justice. “Through our work in Texas and across the country, we have learned that crime survivors support public policies, like rehabilition, that will break the cycle of crime to make our local communities safer.”
In Texas, a recently released Alliance for Safety and Justice report confirmed that Texas crime victims support reforms to probation.
“Crime victims express that the best way for the probation system to rehabilitate people is by holding them accountable with tools other than incarceration,” Tucker continued. “We will work hand-in-hand with leaders across the state to ensure public safety policies support victims by doing more to stop crime before it happens.”
The Texas House of Representatives approved House Bill 3512, sponsored by Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio). It will strengthen incentives for people to choose probation over costly state jail stays with a focus on providing adequate rehabilitative programs regarding addiction, mental health and workforce readiness.
Rep. Leo Pacheco said: “I am honored to carry legislation that advances smart reforms that incentivize people on probation to acknowledge their accountability and rehabilitate themselves so they can get back to work and be productive members of society.”
The HB 3512 companion bill, Senate Bill 2188, is carried by Senate Criminal Justice Chairman John Whitmire.
“We cannot have comprehensive criminal justice reform without the input and participation of crime victims,” Whitmire said. “Smart justice policies ensure survivors get the support they need to recover and help prevent the next victim by ending the cycle of crime.”
During recent committee testimony on the bill, members heard from crime survivors about their perspectives on the criminal justice system and how changes that focus on rehabilitation over incarceration can help break the cycle of crime and make communities safer.
The report on Texas crime victims’ experiences and views on the criminal justice system revealed support for policy changes that HB 3512 seeks to enact:
- About 7 in 10 survivors support strengthening incentives for those sentenced to probation to complete rehabilitative programs, and ensuring that someone’s ability to pay probation fees and fines does not interfere with rehabilitative efforts;
- About 8 in 10 victims support increasing the use of punishments other than jail time for probation violations; and
- More than 8 in 10 victims support changing the way probation is funded so more attention and treatment can be directed to those on probation early on.
The report also found the overwhelming majority of crime victims are underserved in being able to receive what they need to recover. It revealed that:
- 2 out of every 3 crime victims were unaware of victim compensation;
- Fewer than 1 in 10 victims of violence (9 percent) received victim compensation;
- 6 in 10 violent crime victims were unaware that the State of Texas offers victim compensation; and
- Only 4 in 10 victims of violence who were aware of victim compensation applied for it.
The Texas victim compensation program is intended to support victims of violent crimes or their family members for funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, lost wages, counseling, relocation, and other costs of victimization.
The report, “Crime Survivors Speak: Texas Victims’ Experiences with Recovery and Views on Criminal Justice” is the first-of-its-kind conducted in Texas.
Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. We partner with state leaders, advocates and crime survivors to advance policies to replace prison waste with new safety priorities that will help the communities most harmed by crime and violence. For more information visit https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org/ or follow us on Twitter @SafeandJustUSA