Poll Shows Voter Support for Changes to Texas Criminal Justice System

Vice President for policy at The Texas Public Policy Foundation, Chuck DeVore, joins the Standard to discuss public opinion on prison reform in Texas. 

By David Brown and Rhonda FanningMarch 10, 2015 9:10 am

A new poll finds that the majority of Texans are in favor of criminal justice reform. Chuck DeVore, Vice President for policy at The Texas Public Policy Foundation, paints the statistical picture:

  • 73% of voters in Texas strongly support reforms that would allow non-violent drug offenders found guilty of possession to be sent to a drug treatment program instead of jail.
  • Voters agree that we should spend more money on effective treatment programs (61%) rather than spending more money on our prison system (26%).
  • 71% of Texans overwhelmingly believe when it comes to truancy, that the criminal justice system should only be involved in severe cases of chronic truancy.
  • A majority of voters (57%) support legislation that would update the felony threshold to $1500 and adjust annually based on the rate of inflation.
  • A majority (57%) support legislation that would reduce time served, so that they could spend part of their sentence being monitored under community supervision.

“If you’re going to get out, how can the state equip you to not recidivate, to not commit another crime, and go back into prison with more victims behind you? And so what’s been happening in Texas. It’s just very common-sense criminal justice reform that’s worked. It’s reduced crime, it’s made people more safe, and saved money too,” Devore says.