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Texas justice

Think of the Texas approach to crime, and you likely think: tough, even harsh measures. It’s an image as old as Judge Roy Bean, the “Hanging Judge” of lore if not of fact. And it was reinforced much more recently by the remarks of Gov. Rick Perry on the death penalty during a presidential debate last year.

But while it’s true that Texas leads the nation in the number of executions, there’s another, surprising fact: Texas has been a pioneer in finding alternatives to prison — as a way to control costs and to prevent convicts from returning.

How did an unlikely alliance between left and right lead to a revolution in how criminals are treated in one of the nation’s reddest states? Need to Know’s Maria Hinojasa explains.


  • Joan Covici

    The re-entry Court is great.  And the results prove that rehabilitation can work for many people.  Thanks for that report.  But one fact that was not addressed in the statements about closing the old Central Unit is that those 1,000 beds, plus 1,000 more, have been added to several other already existing units.  This overcrowding has caused misery for the men living in dorms where day room space has been taken, the rec. yards are so crowded that men can only stand around, gyms are no longer available for rec, chow must be eaten in lees than 10 minutes, and “staging” (holding crowds of men in small spaces for up to two and three hours) is common.

  • Paulcmurray

    Yes, I feel non violent possession only drug offenders should not be put in jail. The drug war against marjuana is no more winnable than Prohibition!

    With regard to crime in general, a huge effort should be made to reduce inner city high school drop out rates to create productive tax paying citizens instead of criminals.

  • Kevin Lord

    See, there’s lefties here in Texas, too. We’re just outnumbered. (~);-}