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Bill passes Texas Senate related to Texas Prisons


Posted on May 28, 2013

    Senate Bill 213, a sunset bill reauthorizing Texas’s prison, has been approved by the Texas Senate.  The bill is silent on what turned into a contentious debate regarding closing two privately operated prison facilities.  The bill did not make any recommendation on the status of the prisons in Dallas and Mineral Wells, which are run by the Corrections Corporation of America.  Another major change is that under the bill the prison health care program, which costs more than 900 million dollars a year, will no longer be headed by a separate state agency and will instead be headed by a committee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  The bill requires that the committee include two licensed mental health care professionals.  Mental illness is proportionally overrepresented in Texas prison by up to four times the percentage found in general population.  Their presence on the committee possibly indicates a greater understanding of the problems those with mental illness pose for the criminal justice system and hopefully marks a step in getting these individuals the help they need and to create programs and a system that extricates them from the criminal justice system and ensure they not return.  Additionally, Senator John Whitmire’s bill includes a stronger focus on the ability of those exiting TDCJ to reenter the community.  The bill sets up a task force that will identify problems with the services provided for offenders related to housing, medical care, substance abuse treatment and employment.  Officials have linked the growing focus on rehabilitation in TDCJ to the reduced numbers of inmates, hopefully the language in this law related to rehabilitation and services provided to those exiting TDCJ shows a commitment to continually lowering those numbers and helping those exiting prison to avoid returning to TDCJ.  

    Topek and Topek is a full service criminal defense firm with a focus on parole.  As part of our parole practice we are in numerous TDCJ units across the state of Texas.  If you have questions regarding Texas parole or have a family member or loved one who is currently incarcerated please call us on our toll free number 888-661-5030 or fill out an online contact form.

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