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May 12, 1998     (512) 463-0300

LEGISLATORS DISCUSS TEXAS PRISON ISSUES AT STATE CAPITOL

AUSTIN - Members of the Senate Interim Committee on Criminal Justice met in a public hearing on Tuesday, May 12, in order to hear testimony regarding several committee charges. The committee is responsible for monitoring the progress of several key pieces of legislation passed by the 75th Legislature that effects the criminal justice system in Texas. Serving on the committee are Senators John Whitmire of Houston (chair), Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, Florence Shapiro of Plano, and Royce West of Dallas. The committee members received progress reports on the implementation of three bills. Jack Crump, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, briefed the members on the progress of Senate Bill 367 which regulates out-of-state inmate conditions and private correctional facilities. Providing testimony regarding parole revocation and blue warrant issues were representatives from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Parole Division and the Chair of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The members also looked into the Texas Correctional Industries and Private Sector Prison Industries Oversight Authority by hearing testimony from John Benestant, a representative from the TDCJ Executive Division. The committee will gather its findings and any necessary recommendations to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January of next year.

SENATORS DISCUSS HOME HEALTH CARE IN TYLER

TYLER - Members of the Senate Interim Committee on Home Health and Assisted Living Facilities met at Tyler Junior College on Tuesday, May 12, for a public hearing. In reference to the committee's charges, the members are responsible for reviewing the conditions of home health options and assisted living facilities across the state.

The committee is chaired by Senator Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth and includes Senators Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin, Mario Gallegos of Houston, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, and Drew Nixon of Carthage. Representative Bob Glaze of Tyler also joined the committee.

The hearing began with a briefing from Michael Crow regarding current home health rates. The committee then heard from a panel that gave the members insights into rate setting programs, community-based alternatives, and primary home care programs. The panel was comprised of representatives from the Texas Department of Human Services, the Texas Association of Home Care, and Assisted Living Concepts Incorporated. Public testimony followed.

The committee's next meeting will be held in Austin on July 21.

SENATORS HEAR FROM SEX OFFENDERS AND THEIR VICTIMS

AUSTIN - The Senate Interim Committee on Sex Offenders held a public hearing on Tuesday, May 12, in the Capitol Extension in order to hear important testimony regarding sex offenders, their crimes, and their victims. The committee is responsible for looking into the treatment of these sex offenders and recommending legislation in order to improve the treatments or prolong their sentences.

The committee is chaired by Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano and includes Senators Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso and John Whitmire of Houston.

The hearing began with a panel discussion from representatives from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Criminal Justice Policy Council, and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. Also testifying was a sex crime victim representing People Against Violent Crime, the director of the Family Service Center of Galveston, and the president of the Texas Association of Sex Offender Treatment.

A second panel discussion followed regarding the treatment of juvenile sex offenders. The panel was comprised of representatives from the Dallas County Juvenile Justice System, the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, and the Texas Department of Protective & Regulatory Services.

The members then heard testimony from sex crime victims, their family members, and sex offenders themselves that gave insight into how the present treatment programs and jail sentences are affecting them.

All committees will gather their findings and make any necessary recommendations to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January of next year.

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