Emails, David Reaboi, communications director; Derek Cohen, senior policy analyst, Right on Crime, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Jan. 27, 2015

1:24 p.m.

— this is Dave Reaboi, Comms Director at Right on Crime. Wanted to get back to you re: Perry’s remarks on criminal justice reform in Texas. The Governor said:

 

because of these changes in policy,  [1] we’ve been able to shut down three prisons. [2] Repeat offenses by drug offenders are down and [3] the lowest crime rate in this state since 1968. 

 

[1] The three prisons Texas shut down were Sugarland (Central), Dallas (Dawson), and Mineral Wells. Citations here and here. If one were to include juvenile facilities, the number would be twice that.

 

[2] Drug offender recidivism is down, according to a 2012 report.

 

[3] The crime rate can be easily verified through the FBI’s UCR rates, adding violent and property rates and comparing the overall crime rate to previous years.

 

We believe Gov. Perry is on firm ground with this statement; in fact—because he’s not counting the juvenile facilities—he’s underselling the success of Texas’ reforms.

 

I hope this helps. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need.

 

 

David Reaboi

Communications Director, Right on Crime

Texas Public Policy Foundation

4:29 p.m.

Regarding Dr. Fabelo’s comments, he’s not incorrect in saying that there is no way to provide an individualized effect estimate of one particular program.  When one reform is acting in concert with dozens of others, it is very difficult to disentangle A from B from C, etc.  While our parole rates may be up relative to the early nineties, this would have little to do with the general recidivism of drug offenders.  That doesn’t mean that the reform did not significantly contribute.

 

You’ll notice that the decline in the overall crime rate basically plateaued (and even trended upward) starting in 1999.  The depopulation of the Texas prison system attributable to the tapering off of the 90s crime binge had been exhausted.  The rollout of drug court dockets and like reforms from ’02-’05 helped break the logjam and the drop resumed.

 

The incarceration rate essentially stopped climbing shortly after the 2007 reforms were enacted, allowing the state to not have to worry about the impending capacity shortfall.  Even with the added, higher-risk-than-before population on community sanctions, probation revocation rates dropped from 16.4% to 14.7% from 2005 to 2010, and from 2007 to 2010 1306 fewer parolees committed new offenses and 825 fewer were revoked for rule violations.

 

Finally, from 2007 to 2014, TDCJ reported having 5844 fewer drug offenders on-hand, despite being in a period of significant population growth.  Drug sentencing laws were not reduced over this time period, though the capacity for the criminal justice system to handles these cases in the community has been.

In short, while there is still more work to be done, but I think that the Governor’s comments are pretty well substantiated.  There are other policies deserving of credit as well, but the drug courts played a key role.

 

I hope this helps!  Please let us know if there is anything else you need.

 

Derek

From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin) [mailto:wgselby@statesman.com]

Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 4:39 PM

To: Derek Cohen; David Reaboi

Subject: RE: A little more

 

Thanks. Could you unpack this a bit more and point to the relevant figures?

 

The incarceration rate essentially stopped climbing shortly after the 2007 reforms were enacted, allowing the state to not have to worry about the impending capacity shortfall.  Even with the added, higher-risk-than-before population on community sanctions, probation revocation rates dropped from 16.4% to 14.7% from 2005 to 2010, and from 2007 to 2010 1306 fewer parolees committed new offenses and 825 fewer were revoked for rule violations.

 

4:52 p.m.

Certainly.  The probation/parole data is available in the LBB’s Statewide Criminal Justice Recidivism and Revocation Rates report (here).  The former incarceration data is also available from LBB, albeit in the most digestible as part of the future population projections (here).

 

I should clarify my previous statement:  the incarceration raw count peaked in 2008 (though roughly similar to ’07), dipped, and then again in 2011 (same as 07/08), and then plummeted.  This again is during an unprecedented population increase.

 

-Derek