The Senate Criminal Justice Committee is charged with conducting a thorough and detailed study of the following issues, including state and federal requirements, and preparing recommendations to address problems or issues that are identified.
1. Study identity theft and its effects, and the impact of recent legislation addressing the issue (HB 2138, SB 473 and SB566, 78th Legislature). Make recommendations for enhancing the Texas' ability to implement effective programs to prevent identity theft. Monitor federal legislation regarding identity theft to ensure that state and federal laws are complementary and make recommendations for improvements.
2. Study and identify best practices for probation and community supervision programs including: the Community Justice Assistance Division; local probation management structure; the use of Drug Courts and the courts' impact on recidivism; programs to reduce underage drinking; mental health issues and continuity of care; use of the Community Supervision Tracking System (CSTS) and other data issues related to Criminal Justice information system components; and the implementation of HB 2668. Make recommendations for legislative changes to achieve best practices.
3. Study the management efficiency and organizational structure of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, including implementation of recent restructuring by the TDCJ Board, and make recommendations on additional improvements, including possible consolidation of agency functions and other cost saving measures.
4. Study the use and effectiveness of current parole guideline policies and make recommendations for changes to improve the policies. Develop innovative options that improve efficiency and enhance safe and effective correctional policy.
5. Study and make recommendations relating to improving the use of specialized police agencies and officers, specifically, the necessity, accountability, qualifications, and jurisdictions of such police agencies.
6. Review the Crime Victims Compensation Fund (Fund), including state and local competition, use in state agency methods of finance, evaluation of grant programs, possible diversion of funds from crime victims as a result of prior legislation, and whether the Fund meets the objectives of its authorizing legislation.
7. Study the number of foreign citizens serving sentences in Texas prisons, including information relating to prison terms, recidivism, and types of offenses. Make recommendations for reducing the costs of providing prison services for this population, including leveraging of federal immigration funds and possible international agreements to pay home countries to transfer the prisoners to their respective countries to serve the remainder of their terms.
8. Study and make recommendations concerning the cost effectiveness and efficiency of private prisons, including private services performed at state-owned prisons.
The Committee shall submit copies of its final report no later than December 1, 2004. The printing of reports should be coordinated through the Secretary of the Senate. Copies of the final report should be sent to the Lieutenant Governor (5 copies), Secretary of the Senate, Senate Research, Legislative Budget Board, Legislative Council, and Legislative Reference Library.
The final report should include recommended statutory or agency rulemaking changes, if applicable. Such recommendations must be approved by a majority of the voting members of the Committee. Recommendations should also include state and local fiscal cost estimates, where feasible. The Legislative Budget Board is available to assist in this regard.
Budget and Staff
Travel costs shall be paid from the operating budgets of Senate members. All other costs shall be borne by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee's interim budget, as approved by the Senate Administration Committee. Due to overall budget constraints, it is recommended each interim committee budget include only critical expenditures and, where possible, reductions from previous spending levels.
The Committee should also seek the assistance of legislative and executive branch agencies where appropriate.
Pursuant to Section 301.041, Government Code, it may be necessary to change the membership of a committee if a member is not returning to the Legislature in 2005. This will ensure that the work of interim committees is carried forward into the 79th Legislative Session.
77th Legislature's Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
76th Legislature's Senate Criminal Justice Committee.