Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 8, 2007
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Ellis Drug Crime Prevention Bill Passes House Corrections Committee

SB 1909, the Substance Abuse Treatment and Crime Prevention Act, has broad-based support

AUSTIN -- By a vote of 5-0, the House Corrections Committee today approved SB 1909, the Substance Abuse Treatment and Crime Prevention Act, land mark legislation by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) to make Texas' drug crime laws more effective. House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden (R-Plano) is the House Sponsor of SB 1909.

Senate Bill 1909 enhances public safety by reducing drug related crime and preserving jail and prison space for violent offenders, saving Texas taxpayers millions of dollars. The legislation decreases Texas' over reliance on incarceration of non-violent, substance abuse offenders, towards more effective treatment alternatives to reduce crime.

"The Substance Abuse Treatment and Crime Prevention Act is a major step forward to improve Texas' criminal justice system," said Ellis. "By diverting first time, non-violent, drug possession offenders from prison to community based treatment, Texas can save taxpayers millions of dollars, reduce prison overcrowding, and enhance public safety."

Senate Bill 1909 requires low-level, personal use, drug possession offenders, with no serious criminal history, be placed on probation and sent to treatment rather than being sent to prison. SB 1909 also gives judges and treatment providers the flexibility to exclude an offender if they pose a "danger to the community", or prove adverse to treatment, and utilize a variety progressive sanctions, including prison or jail, if individuals fail to comply with the conditions of treatment required by their probation.

As an incentive to successfully complete treatment and rehabilitate their lives, an offender successfully completes treatment under this bill, may apply to the judge for nondisclosure the of the offense.

"This legislation will make our criminal justice system better," said Ellis. "Study after study has shown that the most effective way to reduce recidivism and help those with substance abuse to get their lives back on track is mandatory drug treatment."

The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act has broad support from across the political spectrum. The conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation and the progressive Texas Criminal Justice Coalition both register their support of SB 1909. In addition, a recent statewide poll found that 83 percent of Texans support giving nonviolent, low-level drug users the opportunity to successfully complete a mandatory intensive treatment program as an alternative to prison.