Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
October 26, 2010
Contact: Tina Tran, 512-463-0113

Texas Criminal Justice Coalition Praised for Important New Report on Saving Tax Dollars, Improving Public Safety by Implementing Smart Jail Reforms

Senator Rodney Ellis praised the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) today for its excellent new report, Costly Confinement and Sensible Solutions: Jail Overcrowding in Texas. The 116-page report provides county officials and criminal justice practitioners with dozens of recommendations on how to reduce overcrowded jail populations, save taxpayers' money, and maintain public safety.

"The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition deserves high praise for this excellent new blueprint for smart-on-crime solutions to our state's overcrowded jails," said Sen. Ellis."We can either pay to prevent crime on the front end or pay even more in taxes and public safety to react to crime after it happens. I think TCJC has done a wonderful job of describing all the ways in which we can prevent crime in the first place by using our scarce criminal justice dollars for mental health and substance abuse services, and innovative alternatives to incarceration."

According to TCJC, Texas' 245 jails housed nearly 69,000 inmates as of April 1. Harris County has the state's largest jail population and spends over 13 percent of its budget on maintaining and operating its county jail - more than $45,000 per day. The Harris County jail has become the largest mental health facility in the state, at any given time dosing up to 2,500 inmates with psychotropic drugs.

"We cannot incarcerate away our substance abuse and mental health problems," said Sen. Ellis. "The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has done the state a great service by providing counties with numerous cost-effective policy options for reducing jail populations and improving public safety."

The full report can be read here: http://www.criminaljusticecoalition.org/files/userfiles/TCJC_Jail_Overcrowding_Report.pdf.

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