© December, 2000
Carole Keeton Rylander
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Report of the e-Texas Commission

e-Texas Chapter 12 | ...in 2010 | Endnotes

Public Safety and Corrections in 2010

Fast Forward
•Certain non-violent offenders are regularly diverted to alternative treatment programs, such as drug courts, ensuring ample prison space for violent criminals.

•Recidivism is lowered through effective programs that reintegrate inmates into the community.

•The prison building boom has leveled off thanks to effective diversion programs and lower recidivism rates.

•At-risk youth have a variety of programs to choose from and mentors to work with due to an increase of time and resources from the public and private sector.

•Accountability has been increased by basing treatment and funding decisions on quality outcome data.

•Funding for individual prisons—both public and private—is based, in part, on meeting specified performance criteria.

•State-of-the-art criminal information and tracking systems ensure an accurate and reliable system for public safety agencies to share and update valuable resources.

•Special inmate populations, such as the elderly or infirm, are housed in cost effective specialty units.

•Substance abuse programs and crime prevention activities are coordinated statewide.

Leon can’t wait until 3:30, when his fifth-grade class gets out for the day. It’s Tuesday, and that means police officers Bob and Cindy will be at the local youth center to play baseball with the center’s members. The local police department encourages officers to spend some time at the center playing with and talking to the children.

The youth center gives Leon a place to go where he can talk to adults who like and respect him, and give him the attention he craves. While he’s there, he learns about nature and history, surfs the Internet, and plays with other kids his age. It’s a precious haven for Leon, who comes from a broken home, where no one ever found time to help him stay out of trouble and avoid the drug dealers and petty criminals that plague his neighborhood.

Leon’s father has been in prison for the last five years and may never again be a free man. He had a history of family violence and, after several previous stints in prison, he robbed a liquor store and shot a clerk. Leon’s mother cares for him, but she doesn’t have a lot of time to spend with him. She spends her mornings working and her afternoons in drug treatment mandated by the county drug court. Thanks to the drug court program, however, she is at least able to sit down with Leon for two meals a day and take him to the park on weekends. Ten years ago, her drug habit would probably have put her in prison, leaving Leon with no parents at all.

Leon’s older half-brother, George, didn’t have a refuge like the youth center; he was lost to the streets, and ended up serving 10 years for burglary. While in prison, George was able to overcome his cocaine addiction through a system of coordinated care that built on his previous stay in a county rehabilitation program. To ensure success, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice regularly works with community programs and various state agencies to create a coordinated system of care, including aftercare and followup treatment upon release. This seamless system has lowered the recidivism rate to 25 percent by providing coordinated care, pre-release program facilities and continuing services in areas ranging from vocational education to anger management.

Upon release, George had a job waiting for him with an electronics manufacturer for whom he worked for three years under the state’s PIE program while incarcerated. Through PIE, George learned how to build electronic circuit boards, as well as the self-respect that comes with knowing a trade. More importantly, PIE allowed him to hold a steady job for the first time in his life and motivated him to get his GED to qualify for the program. PIE also required George to pay for some of his incarceration costs and to contribute a portion of his earnings to a victim restitution fund.

Karen is the warden of a private prison that has a contact with the state to house medium-security inmates. The contact is performance-based, meaning that if Karen and her team achieve specific performance indicators, her company, Southwest Corrections Inc., will receive a “performance fee.” By tying the vendor’s bottom line to performance goals, such as a low number of escapes and excellent recidivism rates, the Southwest Corrections’ payment has become dependent upon the state’s satisifaction that quality services are being provided. The pay-for-performance concept has also been extended to the prisons run by the state; part of the warden’s salary is based on meeting certain performance criteria.

For his part, Leon is excited about moving to a new neighborhood, where there will be other youth centers and more friends to meet. His mother is planning a big celebration for the family to commemorate her graduation from drug court and one full year of sobriety.

e-Texas is an initiative of Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Post Office Box 13528, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas

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