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Study the prison industries program regarding private sector employment
Recidivism for prisoners released in 1991 was 48 percent. Research
suggests that employment of offenders reduces recidivism rates.
Recent legislation has provided a program to allow and encourage
the employment of incarcerated individuals. Besides the positive
effects on recidivism, the program has a potential to reduce the
burden of incarceration costs paid by taxpayers by utilizing a
portion of an inmate's wages to reimburse the state. The comptroller,
in his 1994 Texas Performance Review, called for the expansion
of the program from 150 to 6,000 inmates. This could create over
$30 million for the state. However, there is opposition to the
program from labor organizations concerned that it may create
an unfair competitive advantage for the industries in the program.
Review the need for changes in sentencing practices, the revocation
of probation, and the use of deferred adjudication.
During the 72nd Legislature legislation was enacted that committed
the state to pay countries for backlogged felons, and to accept
them into the Institutional Division with 45 days of sentencing,
beginning on September 1, 1995. During the 73rd Legislature,
legislation was enacted that stiffened penalties for violent offenders
and child molesters and created a system of state jails for nonviolent
offenders. The 74th Legislature enacted additional legislation
to address some of the implementation problems of the state jail
system. While enacting legislation to "get tough on crime,"
the state was also implementing the largest prison construction
program in the country. Since January 1991, prison capacity has
increased from 52,253 to 144,328.
Study the continuing implementation of the managed health care
system within the prison system. Consider how telemedicine networks
developed for the prison system might benefit local citizens.
Medical costs in the U.S. are rapidly and uncontrollably growing.
Over the last decade, the medical cost for inmates within the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice were also increasing at a
rapid rate. In response, the 73rd Legislature enacted S.B. 387,
which established a Managed Health Care Advisory Committee to
develop a managed health care plan for inmates in Texas Department
Criminal Justice (TDCJ), which created a partnership among TDCJ,
the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the Texas
Tech University Health Sciences Center. The committee established
a managed health care network of physicians and hospitals to provide
service to TDCJ offenders. During the 74th Legislature, law
was enacted which made minor changes to the implementing statute
and extended the authority of the committee to contract with other
jurisdictions. The results are encouraging: in the 1994-1995
biennium, health costs per inmate dropped nearly 10 percent.
Projections for the current biennium suggest that Texas taxpayers
will save about $67.8 million with the switch to a managed system.
Conduct active oversight of agencies under the committee's jurisdiction.
The following state agencies are under the Committee on Corrections'
jurisdiction: the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Board
of Pardons and Paroles, the Texas Youth Commission, the Council
on Sex Offender Treatment, the Texas Council on Offenders with
Mental Impairments, and the Criminal Justice Policy Council.