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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.