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Senate Interim Committee on Criminal Justice

Charges

Determine if there are any needed changes in the Driving While Intoxicated or related statutes, with a review of statutes in other states.

Review present and future substance abuse treatment programs in community programs, correctional facilities, and parole programs.

Review the progress of the state jails.

Review alternatives to incarceration that will reduce the need for further prison expansion.

Review whether the legislature should implement funding of the Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) on performance of its efforts to reduce recidivism.

Monitor implementation of S.B. 60, 74th Legislature, the Right to Carry Act.
Supplemental Charges

Review the cost and effectiveness of construction and operations, including programming, of Mode I and Mode II state jails, and any correctional facilities operated by private entities.

Study and make recommendations for any penal or criminal justice issues which are identified as problems in legislation in the 74th Legislative Session.

Review parole issues regarding sex offenders, including available treatment and the statutory requirements that offenders be paroled to the county of residence.
Recommendations

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

  • Direct TDCJ to develop a Master Facility Utilization Plan to identify long-term strategies for efficient and secure management of available prison capacity.

  • Direct TDCJ to identify community corrections policies that will best utilize state jails and Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities to improve the system's ability to lower recidivism.

  • The committee will review the Sunset Commission's recommendations regarding the Board of Pardons and Paroles before the 75th Legislature.

  • Direct TDCJ to report to the committee by December 1, 1996, regarding the status of reengineering its computer information systems, and provide time lines which serve as accountability measures.

  • Establish a Rehabilitation Tier of Facilities within TDCJ as part of the Master Facility Utilization Plan.

  • Direct the Criminal Justice Policy Council to create a method of evaluating the Rehabilitation Tier, and provide information regarding cost effectiveness and its impact on recidivism to the legislature.

  • Direct TDCJ, with help from the State Auditor, to identify performance indicators for all programs, including the Windham School District, which are not part of the Rehabilitation Tier.

  • Require TDCJ and the Legislative Budget Board to coordinate appropriation guidelines for programs so funding can be matched to performance measures for those programs.

  • Reallocate funding for any program that does not demonstrate clear benefits to the state toward programs that divert youth from criminal activity.

  • TDCJ should assist private service providers by giving them the data needed to evaluate program cost effectiveness.

  • Require TDCJ to coordinate with the Workforce Commission to monitor the employment status of probationers, parolees, and individuals released from prison.

  • Require the Criminal Justice Policy Council to report to the committee annually regarding the implementation of the Rehabilitation Tier, and require TDCJ and the State Auditor's Office to also report to the committee regarding performance indicators for all other programs.

    DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED

  • Extend driver's license suspensions from the current 90-day driver's license suspension to 120 days for refusing a breath test.

  • Monitor the effectiveness of enhanced Administrative License Revocation (ALR) as well as enhanced DWI penalties.

  • Consider adopting recommendations of the Interim Committee on Juvenile DWI Laws.

    SEX OFFENDER PAROLE ISSUES

  • Provide additional notice to local law enforcement and public officials when a sex offender will be released to a halfway house.

  • Require the Parole Division at TDCJ to report the status of sex offender releases annually to the committee.

    S.B. 60 - THE RIGHT TO CARRY LAW

  • Extend the period of time to process a concealed handgun permit application for an additional 60 days. The current time to process completed permit applications is 90 days; however, this drops to 60 days on January 1, 1997.

  • Require annual accounting of costs and revenues associated with implementing S.B. 60 to ensure the program is revenue neutral and that peace officers are not unnecessarily diverted from their ordinary duties to process applications.

  • Monitor incidents involving concealed handgun permit holders, and determine if additional mental health screening is necessary.

  • Adopt legislation specifying the exact authority of political subdivisions (cities and counties) to forbid permit holders from carrying firearms on publicly owned property.

  • Adopt legislation clarifying the authority of private businesses to exclude permit holders from carrying concealed firearms on their property.

  • Require the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to adopt rules regarding the types of premises licensed to sell alcoholic beverages where carrying firearms by permit holders will be prohibited.

  • Resolve the discrepancy between the right-to-carry statute and the Alcoholic Beverage Code. Currently, businesses with TABC permits who allow the lawful carrying of firearms can have their license suspended and be prosecuted.

    STATE JAIL IMPLEMENTATION FINDINGS

  • District judges are slowly adapting to the state jail sentencing system and are becoming aware of the positive role of the state jail system and its programs.

  • District judges familiar with state jails and state jail administrators agree programs are being implemented efficiently.

  • State jail administrators are addressing both short-term needs and long-term program needs.

  • Transfer inmates in state jails have not presented a problem. Confining them in state jails will continue to be a critical factor in Texas' ability to meet its duty to accept inmates within 45 days.

  • Some state jail facilities remain empty due to a lack of demand, but having these facilities on reserve capacity allows administrators flexibility to manage the correctional system.