Justice Reform Examined

Apr 28, 2014 by AFP

Texas has over 1,700 criminal laws with 650 laws enacted just in the past year.  That pales in comparison to the federal code, which has nearly 4,500 criminal statutes.

These eye-opening facts were part of the discussion held recently in Austin on the criminal justice system’s impact on societal well-being.

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  Our prisons are 40 percent over-capacity and we continue to fill them with offenders serving jail time for minor, non-violent offenses.

This places an immense strain on taxpayers paying to feed and house inmates, but the impacts on families and communities are even more harmful.  Over 2.7 million children have one or both parents in prison, and two thirds are in for non-violent crimes.

We need to find a way to help those who make bad decisions and commit non-violent crimes.   Once they pay restitution, we want them get on with productive lives.

The Mediaite/Koch Institute panel last week was provided an important step in addressing this critical issue.