For Immediate Release: June 16, 2021
Contact: [email protected]
TEXAS CRIME SURVIVORS CELEBRATE NEW LAWS EXPANDING ACCESS TO VICTIM COMPENSATION AND REFORMING PROBATION TO IMPROVE PUBLIC SAFETY
Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Support for Crime Victims and Improve State’s Costly Probation System Signed by Governor Abbott
AUSTIN – Crime survivors in Texas applauded today as Governor Greg Abbott signed two landmark public safety bills, Senate Bill (SB) 957 and House Bill (HB) 385, promising to improve outcomes for crime survivors and increase community safety across the state. The victory comes after a diverse coalition organized by the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) and its Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice network in Texas brought together crime victims and public safety officials throughout the state to work alongside lawmakers to support the passage of bipartisan legislation.
The new laws update the state’s probation system and address the challenges that crime victims have faced in accessing compensation. SB 957, which was authored by Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) and sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), will ensure that traumatized victims’ eligibility for compensation is not jeopardized or delayed by their inability to speak about the incident while in the midst of recovering in a hospital or in the immediate aftermath of a crime. HB 385 was authored by Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and will reform the state’s probation system, ensuring that Texans on probation are able to focus on rehabilitation, while creating safer communities and saving taxpayer money.
“These monumental reforms reflect a victory for crime victims across Texas and a welcome boost for those working to recover from trauma and rebuild their lives,” said Terra Tucker, Texas State Director for Alliance for Safety and Justice. “We thank the elected officials who made these laws possible for ensuring that Texas adopts proven solutions to public safety, while also making sure we spend tax dollars efficiently in the process. Together, we’ve shown we can make a real difference in community safety – and end cycles of harm within vulnerable communities.”
“As a domestic violence survivor and someone who has struggled with addiction, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate the current probation system to try to get back on track,” said Amber Beam, a Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice member who experienced Texas’ probation system firsthand. “These reforms prioritize rehabilitation and elevate the needs of crime survivors – both of which are essential if we are to end cycles of crime. I applaud the legislature for championing these historic pieces of legislation that will truly ensure safety for all throughout Texas”
According to a report from the Alliance for Safety and Justice, 6 in 10 violent crime victims were unaware that the state of Texas offers victims compensation. SB 957 reduces barriers to better serve survivors, address trauma, and make communities safer. Similarly, HB 385 is a first step in resolving issues in Texas’ probation system, outlined in another ASJ report, that cost taxpayers at least $85 million annually without making the state any safer. The legislation dramatically improves Texas’ probation system by taking into consideration a person’s ability to pay fines and fees and equipping judges with the tools they need to help people succeed – all while saving taxpayer dollars.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
The Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. It partners with leaders to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education, and advocacy. It also brings together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence, as part of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice – its national network of over 46,000 crime survivors, with thousands of members in Texas. For more information, visit https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.