Possession Accounts for 90 Percent of Drug Arrests, New Report Says

A new report from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition finds that statewide drug possession arrests have increased by more than 30 percent from 1999 to 2011, with nine-out-of-10 drug arrests in the state stemming from possession charges. The statistics from the Texas Department of Public Safety include an aggregation of adult and juvenile drug-related arrests. According to the study, the price of housing individuals with drug possession offenses costs Texas tax payers more than $700,000 a day, with researchers estimating that the state will exceed its prison and jail capacities as early as the 2014 fiscal year. The authors of the report suggest that community supervision programs could serve as less costly alternatives to drug possession-related incarceration. Researchers estimate the cost of housing one inmate in Texas would cost the state about $18,500 a year, whereas placing offenders in community-based facilities, with treatment services, would only cost the state about $3,500 annually.

Juvenile Hall Smaller in Texas

Despite the cliché, not everything is bigger in Texas. A year after the state merged juvenile and criminal justices under one big agency and commanded it to divert youthful offenders away from big state lockups to neighborhood programs, a pair of advocates are pleased. But both have tips for states considering the same setup. The old system literally and figuratively put a lot of kids in the desert, said Benet Magnuson, a juvenile justice policy attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, an Austin-based prison reform group. “State facilities were less rehabilitative because the kids were isolated, it was hard to retain quality staff and they were ultimately unsafe for a lot of kids,” he explained.

This Budget Season, Texas Must Turn to Counties for Juvenile Justice Effectiveness

Hot, muggy August is actually a breath of fresh air. It’s a fresh start for Texas kids heading back to school, and the beginning of the budget process for Texas agencies as they work to prepare their budget requests for the new biennium. In particular, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department has a unique opportunity for a fresh start through a renewed emphasis on county and community-based placements for juvenile offenders to put more troubled Texas youths on the right track—and this can be done even while cutting the overall size of the budget. Multiple news reports and an internal audit this summer have detailed rampant safety issues within state lockups for juvenile delinquents. While juvenile lockups certainly cannot and should not be pleasant places to stay, they must provide a basic level of security for minors.

Juvenile Justice Reform Experts, Advocates Offers Suggestions For Change

Juvenile justice system experts and reform advocates were among those who converged upon Miami last week for an annual conference hosted by the Open Society Institute (OSI). The, New York City-based private operating and grantmaking foundation focuses on criminal justice system reform. We asked a few of them “what single change would you make to the juvenile justice system?” Here’s what they had to say.  




































Tarsha Jackson, an organizer with the Texas Reconciliation Project, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and the Houston chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. “I think there needs to be more focus on prevention programs, but the biggest change I would make is to train all of the system stakeholders – the district attorneys, judges, court personnel – and train them on the definition of family involvement.