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

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

A Safer Texas

Elvis Jackson leaves his cell at Lockhart’s Wackenhut Correctional Facility every morning, passes out the prison’s backdoor, through a chain-link fenced walkway, and enters the clean, orderly, air-conditioned facilities of LTI, Inc., a private-sector company operating on the prison grounds. There, he spends his day assembling sophisticated computer circuitry and electronic cabling. The company, in turn, trains him and pays him for his work at local prevailing wages.

The circuit boards Mr. Jackson builds and tests for quality are computer voice systems. They are embedded in high tech mannequins used to train physicians and medical students in effective diagnostic questioning of patients. Asked about his job, Jackson says, “I never thought I would be able to do this kind of work because it is too technical. It makes me feel good to know I’m doing something good, and it’s improved my job prospects.” [1]

Blaine Nabors, recently released from the Lockhart Wackenhut Correctional Facility, was one of Jackson’s co-workers. He managed purchasing for LTI operations at the prison and now works for LTI in the outside world. Nabors says the Lockhart job gave him hands-on training he could never have acquired previously in the outside world.[2] “This job has given a lot of people back their self worth—it’s a feeling that they are doing something worthwhile,” Nabors explains. “I understand profit and loss now.” Nabors and Jackson are former and current participants, respectively, in the federal Prison Industry Enhancement program (PIE) which allows private industries to establish joint ventures with public agencies to use inmate labor in producing goods for entry into interstate commerce. Inmates participating in the program work in environments that simulate private workplaces, demonstrating the value of hard work and teaching marketable skills that increase their potential for successful reintegration into society upon release.[3] The PIE program, as operated at Lockhart and many other facilities throughout the nation, has proven to be an exceptional way to cut prison costs, reduce recidivism, and reintegrate released felons into communities.

“[The PIE program] has given me job skills I didn’t have before and built my confidence and self-esteem up” says inmate Richard Hilcher. “Once I am out [of prison], instead of being a burden to society, I will be an asset.”[4]

Inmates working in the program earn private-sector prevailing wages.[5] PIE guidelines, however, allow participating inmates to apply up to 80 percent of their earnings to defray the cost of their incarceration, provide restitution for their victims, pay child and family support, and income and social security taxes. Participants also make deposits to an interest-bearing savings account. “Now I am able to partially take the burden off society by paying for part of my incarceration,” says inmate Mark Conner, another PIE participant. “I can also say I am a taxpayer, which means a lot.”

Since PIE’s creation in 1979, state and local governments have established 159 prison and private-sector “joint ventures” which currently employ over 3,500 inmates.[6] These programs have produced more than $126 million in inmate gross wages, with more than $61 million being paid by inmates to cover their room and board, victim restitution, family support, and taxes.[7]

“No public safety program in Texas has shown more promise than the PIE program,” says State Representative Ray Allen, a big proponent of the PIE program in Texas since its inception. “It is both good for the taxpayers of Texas and it is good for the crime victims. But even more important, nothing is more ennobling, empowering, rehabilitative to prisoners than teaching them how to work in a free society.”

Darryl Andersen, the Warden at Lockhart, echoes Representative Allen in this assessment: “PIE and other programs like it are the kinds of programs that will change our corrections system.”[8] Andersen is right. The principles that embody the PIE program—rehabilitation, restitution, public-private partnerships and personal responsibility—are the principles that should guide the evolution of Texas’ corrections system over the next decade.

Crime is Falling Nationwide
For nearly a decade, the US crime rate has been falling. Preliminary data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program show that the incidence of serious crime in America fell by 7 percent from 1998 to 1999, marking the eighth consecutive annual decrease nationwide.[9] The reasons for this drop are difficult to establish, but experts believe they range from tougher sentencing and more active policing to low unemployment and the simple aging of one-time juvenile delinquents.

Texas’ Public Safety and Corrections System

Public safety and corrections are among state government’s largest responsibilities and account for a suitably large share of state spending. In fiscal year 2001, 14 Texas agencies will receive more than $3.7 billion in appropriations for public safety and corrections programs.[10]

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates the state’s prison system, which held almost 151,100 prisoners as of August 31, 2000.[11] TDCJ also oversees and distributes state funding to local Community Supervision and Corrections Departments (i.e. probation). In addition, TDCJ supervises inmates released on parole or mandatory supervision.

In 1980, Texas’ incarceration rate was 210 inmates per 100,000 residents, compared to a national average of 130. By 1998, that number had risen to 724 per 100,000, while the national average rose to 461 (see Figure 12-1).[12] In Texas, it costs a little less than $39 a day or $14,000 a year to house the average state inmate.[13] This is significantly lower than the national average cost of $55.51 per day, which amounts to more than $20,000 a year.[14]

The Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC) and Texas Youth Commission (TYC) administer the state’s juvenile justice system. Their jurisdictions extend to youths between the ages of 10 and 17 who have engaged in delinquent conduct or other conduct requiring supervision. (TYC may retain control of a juvenile until the age of 21.) From roughly 1995 to 1999, the number of 10- to 17-year-olds in TYC more than doubled, from 2,200 to 4,900, while the recidivism rate, or percentage of those released who commit new offenses and return to correctional facilities, reached 50.1 percent.[15] In other words, at least half of all children passing through the Texas juvenile justice system will return to a life of crime.

Texas’ Criminal Justice Policy Council (CJPC) was created in 1983 to provide the Texas Governor and Legislature with policy analysis to use in developing and evaluating criminal and juvenile justice correctional policies.

Challenges to Texas’ Public Safety and Corrections System
Growing inmate population has led to skyrocketing corrections costs

•The budgets for adult and juvenile corrections grew by 600 percent and 500 percent respectively between 1985 and 1998.

Drug offenders make up an increasing percentage of the prison population

•Over 20 percent of the Texas prison population were in prison for drug-offenses in 1998, compared to about 11 percent in 1988.

The number of sick and aging prisoners is growing rapidly

•The number of inmates 55 and over—who are much more expensive to take care of due to higher medical costs—is projected to increase by 122 percent by 2008.

Driven by the demand for improved public safety, increased prosecution and stiffer penalties, the cost of Texas corrections has risen dramatically in recent years. TDCJ’s budget rose by nearly 600 percent between 1985 and 1998, while TJPC’s and TYC’s combined budgets increased by almost 500 percent over the same period.[16] From 1988 to 1998, the number of TDCJ prison beds rose from 41,497 to 147,171.[17] These numbers continue to rise. And TDCJ’s three-year recidivism rate stands at 30.7 percent.[18]

Most would argue that the money Texas has spent building more prisons has been money well spent. Studies have demonstrated that an increasing probability of punishment causes a decrease in the amount of serious crime.[19] There is ample evidence that this has been the case in Texas. The state has seen dramatic improvements in public safety in recent years. In 1991, Texas was regarded as one of America’s most dangerous states. In fact, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio were ranked among the 14 most crime-ridden cities in the US.[20] Recently, Dallas ranked as the 25th most dangerous city in the US, Houston as the 70th and Fort Worth as the 97th.[21] As a state, Texas is currently ranked as the 17th most dangerous state, down from number three in 1994.[22] Texas’ annual number of criminal offenses has fallen by 26 percent in the last eight years.[23]

Nevertheless, with its prison population at an all-time high—and projected to grow considerably more—and with little desire in the Legislature to begin another prison building boom, Texas must look to some new approaches in public safety and corrections. The overarching goal should be crime reduction, not simply increased incarceration.

Innovations in Public Safety and Corrections

Drug Courts

An American University report concludes that incarceration in and of itself does little to break the cycle of illegal drug use, and that drug offenders have a high re-arrest rate upon release.[24] One of the most popular new approaches to handling defendants charged with drug and drug-related offenses is the “drug court” concept first introduced by Dade County, Florida, in 1989. The US now has more than 455 drug courts that have been widely cited as a step forward in the fight against drug-related crime.[25] Texas has four operating drug courts in Dallas, Jefferson, Montgomery, and Travis counties. Webb County is in the final planning stages for a drug court that will target individuals on probation.

Drug courts are special judicial proceedings generally used only for nonviolent drug offenders.[26] Typically, the consequences of conviction in a drug court include monitoring by the judge, weekly supervision by probation officers, daily drug tests, and treatment sessions. If participants fail to comply with the program requirements, they can receive additional sanctions including more intensive treatment services, more frequent urinalysis, community service, and incarceration. An estimated 200,000 Americans have enrolled in adult drug court programs nationwide since 1989, and 70 percent successfully completed their programs or are currently enrolled.[27]

A US General Accounting Office (GAO) study of 200 drug courts concluded that they allow jurisdictions to allocate their criminal justice resources more efficiently. Staff and services that had been consumed by minor, time-consuming drug cases now can be targeted for drug court assignment.[28] Prosecutors reported that drug courts offer a significant remedy to the “revolving door” syndrome that frequently results from the traditional case process. Defendants are no longer released back into the community—and back to drugs—after their arrest. Instead, they are placed in a rigorous, court-supervised treatment program. Almost all drug courts work closely with community groups to provide support services for participants.[29] The success of drug courts is reflected in low recidivism rates among their participants. Only 6 percent of 387 graduates of the Jackson County, Missouri, drug court have been rearrested for subsequent felony charges.[30]

Drug courts have been instrumental in reducing other program costs as well, such as foster care for children whose parents have lost custody due to drug convictions. A pilot drug court program in San Diego, California began in March 1999; of 31 families involved, only four needed foster care for their children.[31] The San Diego “Dependency Court” makes alcohol and drug treatment immediately available to parents so that the time children must spend in foster care is substantially reduced. In Portland, Oregon, almost all of the more than 100 female drug-court participants who lost custody of their minor children regained custody upon completing the program.[32]

Finally, it should be noted that a large number of persons appearing before drug courts are unemployed and some are on public assistance. Many drug-court programs require participants to earn a general equivalency diploma and find employment.[33]

New Approaches for At-Risk Youth

Most criminal justice experts believe that once children enter the juvenile corrections system, many are unlikely to be rehabilitated. By reaching youths before they turn to a life of crime, states can reduce juvenile delinquency and, more importantly, attack adult crime at its roots. The costs of both juvenile and adult incarceration can be reduced as well.

According to a National Institute of Justice study, children subjected to abuse and neglect are 40 percent more likely than others to become delinquent. As noted crime expert John J. DiIulio, Jr. points out, “Cut to its core, the evidence shows that children are less likely to commit violent crime if they have responsible adults in their lives. Even impoverished kids living in crime-ravaged neighborhoods tend to make it if they have an adult parent, teacher, coach, or clergy to protect and guide them.”[34]

A recent study of the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program showed that at-risk youth involved with mentors are 46 percent less likely to begin using drugs, 27 percent less likely to start drinking, 52 percent less likely to miss school, and 33 percent less likely to commit violent acts at school.[35] Another study conducted by the research firm Public/ Private Ventures showed that at-risk, low-income children who meet with a Big Brother or Big Sister three times a month for four hours each time are 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and a third less likely to assault someone.[36]

Another recent study of public school students from 6th to 12th grades found that, as the number of developmental resources increase in a child’s life, two important trends occur. First, multiple forms of unhealthy behavior (such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use, violence, antisocial behavior, attempted suicide, and driving while drinking) fall drastically. Second, while multiple forms of thriving behavior (including school success, affirmation of diversity, and optimism for the future) increase.[37] Finally, a March 1999 survey of former Boys and Girls Club members found that 52 percent of respondents believe that the club literally saved their lives; they believed they would be dead or in jail if not for the clubs.[38]

Early intervention programs include after-school programs run by independent organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the YMCA. General Colin Powell (ret.) has formed an organization, “America’s Promise,” to provide volunteer and service initiatives designed to provide children with mentors, protection through safe places and activities, a nurturing atmosphere, caring teachers, and the opportunity for adults to help youths through community service. America’s Promise intends to work with local communities to connect young people with support services that provide these fundamental resources.

TYC Specialized Treatment Programs
TYC has been remarkably effective in reducing recidivism for certain youthful offenders through its Specialized Correctional Treatment programs. Specialized Treatment targets capital offenders, sex offenders, chemically dependent youths, and youths with emotional disturbances or mental retardation. Participants in Specialized Treatment have been rearrested or re-incarcerated at a much lower rate than those who need the treatment but do not receive it. In fact, the capital offender component of Specialized Treatment reduced the likelihood of capital offenders being arrested for another violent crime within a year of release by 65 percent.[39] In a 1999 TYC review, only four of 219 sex offenders (1.8 percent) receiving sex offender treatment were arrested for another violent sex offense within three years of release.[40]

Truth in Sentencing

The drop in Texas crime has been attributed to many factors, including tougher sentencing, lower parole rates and a robust economy. As mentioned earlier, studies show that an increase in the probability of punishment creates a drop in serious crime. Moreover, it seems obvious that keeping criminals off the streets prevents them from committing further crimes.

In the 1970s, states generally followed “indeterminate sentencing” for prison inmates; in other words, parole boards had great authority in determining when an inmate would actually be released from prison. Under pressure for uniform punishment and longer sentences, this philosophy gave way to sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums in the 1980s. The current movement is toward “truth in sentencing,” which requires inmates to serve a substantial part of their sentence and restricts or eliminates parole and “good-time” credits.

In 1984, Washington State enacted the first truth-in-sentencing law. Then, through the Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-In-Sentencing Incentive Grants Program in the 1994 Crime Act, the US Congress authorized funding for the construction of additional state prisons to ensure that violent criminals (convicted of murder or non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) would serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. By 1998, 27 states and the District of Columbia had met this 85 percent requirement. Texas and Maryland have a 50 percent requirement for violent offenders.

The impacts of truth-in-sentencing laws have varied from state to state. After 12 months, 57 percent of New York’s violent felony convicts were under truth-in-sentencing guidelines, while nearly 80 percent of Nevada’s prison admissions (which fall under a 100 percent sentence requirement) were under truth-in-sentencing guidelines after three years. Under a truth-in-sentencing law requiring 85 percent of a sentence to be served, violent offenders can be expected to serve an estimated 15 months longer than those entering prison in 1996, while time served by violent convicts increased by six months between 1993 and 1997.[41]

In Texas, parole rates have been dropping over the last decade. In 1990, 79.4 percent of all inmates considered for parole received it. That figure fell to 20.2 percent by 1998 and stands at about 29 percent today (see Figure 12-2).[42]

Strategies for a Safer Texas

Strategies in Brief
  • To Ensure There is Adequate Prison Space for Violent Criminals, Explore Alternatives to Incarceration for Some Nonviolent Criminals
  • Move Certain Elderly and Seriously Ill Texas Prisoners to Alternative Settings
  • Make Greater Efforts to Ensure that Released Inmates Succeed in Rejoining Society as Productive, Law-Abiding Citizens
  • Deter Crime Through Early Intervention Programs
  • Do More to Combat the Crime of Driving While Intoxicated
The ever-growing inmate population, and the enormous expense it entails, should prompt us to look for new methods of fighting crime. Through technology, early intervention, and other strategies, some crime can be prevented. Moreover, alternative sanctions for some nonviolent offenders can help keep inmate rolls from swelling and increase the offenders’ chances of successful rehabilitation.

Society must attack crime where it breeds—troubled children—and find ways to stop them from beginning a life of crime. Prisons should be held accountable for the successful reintegration of released inmates into society.

To Ensure There is Adequate Prison Space for Violent Criminals, Explore Alternatives to Incarceration for Some Nonviolent Criminals

Texas’ prisons are at or near capacity, and they impose a tremendous cost on Texas taxpayers. Violent and dangerous criminals must be imprisoned, but this effort will be hindered if our prison space is not used in the most intelligent way possible.

As inmate rolls reach all-time highs across America, many cities and states are adopting alternatives to incarceration for some nonviolent offenders. The goal is two-fold: first, to free up prison space for murderers, armed robbers, rapists, and other violent criminals; and second, to increase the chances for successful rehabilitation of substance-abuse addicts, thereby lowering their recidivism rates.

In Texas, an estimated 21.7 percent of prison inmates, or 28,083 out of a total of 129,720, were in prison in 1998 for drug-offenses. A decade earlier, drug offenses accounted for 11.2 percent of prisoners, or 4,351 Texans out of a total prison population of 38,952 (see Figure 12-3).[43]

Several states have opted to fund substance abuse treatment as an alternative to prison. Wisconsin allows judges to order felony drug offenders with no weapons violation or previous record to receive treatment, attend classes, and obtain job and parental counseling instead of going to prison. In New York, Brooklyn’s Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison program has operated for nine years with a high rate of success. The recidivism rate for program graduates is less than half that for comparable defendants who went to prison for drug-related crimes.[44]

Florida has developed what may be the nation’s most ambitious long-range plan to reduce its prison population by requesting $358 million in state funds for substance abuse treatment for adults and drug-addicted babies, drug courts, drug law enforcement units, additional state attorneys and prosecutors, and an anti-tobacco campaign aimed at youths.[45]

Alternative placements for some nonviolent offenders could ease the state’s overtaxed correctional system and provide much-needed space for violent and hardened criminals. Cutting down on the interaction between these nonviolent offenders and hardened criminals, furthermore, will give the former a better chance to reform and lead productive lives. Alternative sanctions, coupled with preventative programs, can reduce Texas’ number of felons and the enormous costs of incarceration.


Expand the number of drug courts in Texas.

A report from the Manhattan Institute concludes that “states seeking to maximize the benefits of current prison space should reexamine the policy of imprisoning drug-only offenders.” The study argues that imprisoning large numbers of drug offenders simply isn’t cost-effective, and that some beds occupied by drug offenders would be better used for violent and repeat offenders.[46]

In Texas, the average annual cost of drug courts, including treatment and supervision, is $3,500 per participant.[47] Texans convicted of nonviolent drug offenses in counties without a drug court often are charged with a state jail felony offense and, if convicted, generally serve their sentences in TDCJ’s State Jail Division. Texas’ average annual cost for incarcerating State Jail inmates was $11,340 in 1998.[48]

The number of drug courts in Texas should be expanded. State law should be amended to provide statutory framework and set definitive regulations regarding the operation of drug courts. Within such regulations, a task force should be appointed to review existing drug courts and make recommendations for new programs by identifying areas of the state that would most benefit from new drug court programs and assist those areas with planning and implementation. Finally, state funding should be provided to existing drug courts for the continuance and expansion of such programs.

Move Certain Elderly and Seriously Ill Texas Prisoners to Alternative Settings

In 1999, Texas prisons contained 5,498 inmates aged 55 or over. From 1998 to 2008, this group is expected to rise by 122 percent.[49]

The average health care cost for the aging prison population was $14.80 a day in fiscal 1998, about three times more than for younger offenders.[50] Health care costs also are considerably higher for inmates with significant medical problems such as Hepatitis C, HIV, and full-blown AIDS.

Many more Texas prisons will need to be remodeled to care for the growing elderly and sick inmate population. One alternative for some of these inmates is incarceration in alternative facilities, such as nursing homes designed to serve an inmate population. Federal funds could defray most of these nursing home costs. Inmates who qualify for release on special needs parole then can apply for federal entitlement benefits including food stamps, Social Security income, Social Security disability income, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, veteran’s benefits, and Medicaid and Medicare payments.

A half-dozen states including Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Alabama recently have opened special prisons for elderly inmates. Several of these new prisons were converted from state mental hospitals.[51] The Connecticut Department of Corrections plans to establish a hospice program within one of its male inmate facilities. The hospice team will coordinate activities intended to enhance the quality of life for dying inmates.[52]


Identify nonviolent inmates with the most significant medical problems and include them in the pool of eligible inmates for Special Needs Parole.

TDCJ and the Texas Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments (TCOMI), the agency responsible for administering the Special Needs Parole program, should transfer more nonviolent offenders with significant health problems to an alternative long-term care facility could ease the overcrowding in prisons that is likely to occur over the next ten years.


Establish secure nursing homes exclusively for ill inmates in urban areas.

Since most prison inmates are from the state’s urban areas, they would benefit from placement in an urban facility near family members and medical facilities. Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) should determine the level of security that these nursing homes can have without jeopardizing Medicaid or Medicare dollars. DHS also should consider what electronic monitoring devices could be used on this population.

Ensure that Released Inmates Become Productive, Law-Abiding Citizens

To deter crime in the most effective way possible, our prisons must be more than human warehouses. Most inmates rejoin society sooner or later, and they must be reintegrated successfully if crime rates are to continue to fall.

Programs such as the PIE program save taxpayer money while cutting recidivism rates and crime. Successful in-prison vocational and treatment programs should be expanded, while failing programs should be eliminated.


Expand the use of proven reintegration methods for released inmates.

The PIE program in Texas currently employs roughly 200 inmates and has accounted for over $2.2 million dollars to General Revenue since its certification in 1993. This number, however, could be greatly increased with a concerted effort to expand PIE and increase the amount PIE inmates pay toward their room and board. A full-time position should be established to court private business and make recommendations for PIE expansion. Additionally, a funding pool for future PIE facility construction should be created.

Private industry should be courted with an emphasis on the positives of the PIE program, such as a reliable workforce with no absenteeism. Moreover, the deduction from the salary for incarceration costs should be substantially increased from the maximum of 35 percent.


Ensure adequate and effective substance abuse treatment for probationers and parolees.

Research shows that the success of correctional drug treatment programs depends upon a seamless transition to effective post-release treatment.[53] A minimum of six to 12 months of aftercare is strongly recommended to maximize treatment outcomes.[54]

Deter Crime Through Early Intervention Programs

According to Ann Jacobs, director of the Women’s Prison Association, children with incarcerated parents are five times more likely to be jailed; one in ten will be jailed before adulthood.[55] Juvenile delinquents must not only be punished, they must learn to avoid crime. At-risk youth need safe and caring places of refuge that allow them to develop into healthy members of the community.

State policymakers have recognized the need for early intervention. In 1999, Texas allocated more than $10 million in state funds to 71 school districts for after-school programs designed to reduce middle-school student involvement in criminal and other risky behavior. The school districts chosen serve students in areas with a high incidence of juvenile crime as determined by the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council.[56]

In addition, in September 1997, Texas Governor George W. Bush launched a major statewide initiative to improve the lives of Texas’ young people. This initiative, “The Texas Pledge—Keeping America’s Promise,” is led by the Texas Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. The Texas Pledge builds alliances between private, public, and nonprofit sectors; identifies and pursues statewide resources; initiates public information campaigns; coordinates statewide summits; promotes youth leadership and service; and provides resources to communities that are working to provide such resources. The Texas Pledge has received many donations and volunteer hours to further its cause.[57]

Tom Green County Assistant District Attorney Claire Noelke told an e-Texas hearing in San Angelo that today’s youth need mentoring, greater parental accountability and extracurricular activities. “Youth centers provide a safe place for children. [They] are provided with structured activities and with adults who care about them,” says Noelke.[58]

Children’s community programs also can lower juvenile delinquency rates by giving at-risk youth safe and educational places to gather. “We’re out there trying to save lives and point kids in the right direction,” says Jose Mata, Southside unit director for Boys and Girls Club of San Angelo.

Do More to Combat Driving While Intoxicated

After larceny and theft, driving while intoxicated (DWI) or under the influence of drugs (DUI) is the most frequently committed crime in America. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of every 127 licensed drivers in the US was arrested for drunk driving in 1994. In 1997, 1.4 million drivers in the United States were arrested for DWI or DUI and 513,200 were placed in jail or on probation.

By some estimates, the cost of drunk driving exceeds $110 billion a year.[59] A drunk driver kills someone in the US every 33 minutes.[60] Such dismal statistics have prompted many states to combat this senseless waste of life.

Several states have launched innovative programs to bring down high DWI rates. In Georgia, for instance, state law requires that those convicted of driving while intoxicated must have their pictures and names published in their local newspapers—and pay the cost of the ad. Hawaii, Illinois, and Vermont are the only three states in the nation that require hospitals to report blood alcohol test results to the local police, an effort intended to increase the reporting of drunk-driving offenses. New York is the only state with a completely self-sufficient DWI/DUI program; all fines and fees collected from drunk driving cases are returned to local units of government to pay for DWI law enforcement and the prosecution and treatment of DWI offenders.[61]

Far too often, children are the innocent victims of intoxicated drivers since vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children under 15.[62] A growing number of states including California, Connecticut, and Iowa are enacting DWI/child endangerment laws that impose stiff penalties and fines on anyone who drives drunk with a child in the car.[63]

Disturbingly, drunk driving often is a chronic crime. A third of all drunk drivers arrested in the US in 1996 were repeat offenders.[64] Twenty-four states have passed habitual DWI offender laws in recent years.[65]


Strengthen Texas’ DWI laws.

State law should be amended to prohibit open containers of alcoholic beverages in the passenger area of motor vehicles and to create a repeat DWI offender law for second and subsequent DWI offenses that meets federal guidelines.

e-Texas is an initiative of Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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