Criminal Justice Committee Studies
Connally Unit Escape
AUSTIN - The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice opened hearings Tuesday, January 16, into the December escape of seven inmates from the John B. Connally Jr. Unit in Karnes County.
"As policy makers we do have the authority and the obligation to ensure that policies that we envision through statute give TDCJ the tools that they need," said Victoria Sen. Ken Armbrister, the chair of the committee. "So we'll be looking at it from that standpoint -- have we supplied them with the tools."
Armbrister called Tuesday's committee action a preliminary review of the report on the escape issued January 11, 2001 by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), but stressed that the Senate's study of the Texas penal system is a part of an ongoing effort to that began well before the escape.
"You've got 160,000 people (in Texas prisons) spending every waking minute calculating how to get out," Sen. Armbrister said. "What we have to ensure to the citizenry of the state is that -- every waking minute -- we're responsible, that we're trying to spend that time making sure they stay in."
In other action, the Senate Finance Committee continued hearings Tuesday on the General Appropriations Bill, which will set budgets for state agencies and outline Texas' spending priorities for the 2002-2003 biennium. Budget hearings are scheduled to continue Wednesday.
In session, the Texas Senate unanimously adopted Senate Resolution 7, offered by Sen. David Cain of Dallas, to honor the 16 charter members of the Texas Science Hall of Fame, inducted last year at the Texas Science Summit 2000. The Texas Science Hall of fame acknowledges Texans who have made significant scientific accomplishments of national and world recognition. This first class of inductees included astronauts, Nobel Prize winners, educators and physicians.
The Texas Senate will reconvene at 11 a.m. Wednesday, January 17.