Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform in Texas: Fighting Contraband While Upholding Civil Liberties
Forfeiture is a mechanism by which the state obtains ownership and control of an individual’s property, usually via legal convention following an alleged crime. The property is often held by the government while the case is pending. This property is usually liquidated through a police auction or, in the event an item could be of direct value to the police, repurposed for their use. Civil asset forfeiture operates in a more ambiguous area of law. Unlike legal action taken against a person under the allegation of criminal conduct, and all the procedural safeguards that entails, civil forfeiture targets the property itself, not the owner, and can occur regardless of whether any criminal charges are brought forth. Absent proper procedural safeguards, this practice is extremely susceptible to abuse. Unfortunately, Texas ranks amongst the worst in the nation in protecting its citizens from such abuses.This monograph is an adapted transcript of a symposium that took place at the Texas Capitol on December 8, 2014. It was co-sponsored by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Heritage Foundation and the Institute for Justice.
Including contributions from:Derek Cohen (Right on Crime and theCenter for Effective Justice, The Texas Public Policy Foundation);Rep. David Simpson (Texas House of Representatives);Andrew Kloster (The Heritage Foundation);Shannon Edmonds (Texas District and County Attorneys Association); and Matt Miller (Institute for Justice, Texas).
Pre-Trial and Mental Health Policy in Harris County, Texas: Front-end Reforms that Protect Citizens, Control Costs, and Ensure Justice
County jails are the gateway to the corrections system and are the form of incarceration that impacts the greatest number of Americans—including those who are never ultimately convicted or sentenced to confinement. Harris County, Texas operates one of the five largest county jails in the nation. However, a long term plan is not in place to alleviate the issue of operating above the design capacity by utilizing variance beds and additional staff. Pre-Trial and Mental Health Policy in Harris County, Texas collects transcripts of an important day-long event sponsored by the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice along with the Texas-based John and Laura Arnold Foundation. The conference brought together experts from across the country to discuss pre-trial and mental health solutions for not only Harris County, but also Texas, and the nation.
Including contributions from:Sen. John Whitmire (Texas Senate);Dave LaBahn (Association of Prosecuting Attorneys);Jerry Madden (Right on Crime);Marc Levin(Right on Crime and the Texas PublicPolicy Foundation);Brooke Rollins (Texas Public Policy Foundation);Adrian Garcia (Sheriff, Harris County, Texas);Matt Alsdorf (Laura and John Arnold Foundation);Tara Boh Klute (Kentucky Pre-Trial Program);Judge Ryan Patrick (Harris County, Texas);Devon Anderson (District Attorney, Harris County, Texas);Michael Dirden (Harris County Police Department);Teresa May (Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections);Clarissa Stephens (Harris County Office of Criminal Justice Coordination);Andy Keller (Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute); andJudge Oscar Hale, Jr.(Webb County, Texas).
In the last decade, conservatives have become the leaders in criminal justice reform. The issue affects many of the values of the conservative movement, such as public safety and limited government. State after state has emphasized public safety and limited government by promoting alternative measures for low-risk offenders and prioritizing precious prison space for violent and high-risk offenders. The results have been falling crime rates, incarceration rates, and savings in the hundreds of millions. Perspectives in Conservative Criminal Justice Policy presents what amounts to a brief course on the subject as it is in 2015, and features some of the most important and influential voices in the field. The topics included are: Criminal Justice Reform: Getting More Safety for Our Tax Dollars; Texas Prison Reform 2.0; 21st Century Juvenile Justice: A Texas-Sized Problem; and Rethinking Mental Health: Are We Throwing the Right Life Lines to People with Mental Illness?This monograph contains the adapted transcripts of several criminal justice panels at events in early 2015: the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s annual Policy Orientation in Austin, Texas, and the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
Including contributions from:Gov. Sam Brownback (Kansas); Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform);Julie Stewart (Families Against Mandatory Minimums); Pat Nolan (American Conservative Union Foundation and Right on Crime); Sen. John Whitmire and Sen. Jose Rodriguez (Texas Senate); Bill Montgomery (Maricopa County Attorney, Gilbert, Arizona); Adam Gelb (The Pew Charitable Trust); Rep. James White and Rep. Tan Parker (Texas House of Representatives); Tony Fabelo (Council of State Governments Justice Center); Chelsea Buchholtz (Texas Juvenile Justice Department); Leon Evans (The Center for Health Care Services); Colleen Horton (Hogg Foundation for Mental Health); Andrew Keller (Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute); and Derek Cohen, Marc Levin, Kate Murphy and Dianna Muldrow (Texas Public Policy Foundation and Right on Crime).
Chuck DeVore: The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State and Lessons for America, 2014 Edition
Chuck DeVore’s book, The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State and Lessons for America, 2014 Edition, is a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The book compares Texas to its large state peers and details why Texas is increasingly the destination for Americans seeking a better life. The Texas Model describes a state with low taxes, modest government, and a lawsuit climate that allows entrepreneurship to flourish while encouraging job creation. The book also introduces and details the “Soft Tyranny Index” for both the federal government and the 50 states, looking at the extent to which government exerts a controlling influence on the lives of Americans in a manner Alexis de Tocqueville presciently warned about in Democracy in America in 1835.
“Chuck DeVore’s “…new book ‘The Texas Model’ …describes the key ingredients to Texas’s economic success.” –Wall Street Journal(Refers to the 2012 edition.)
“Chuck DeVore describes how conservative policies favoring lower taxes, restricted government spending, less regulation, and fewer frivolous lawsuits have made Texas a better place to live for any American.”–Holly Hansen,Hill Country News(Refers to the 2012 edition.)
“DeVore’s statistical reply to the critics of Texas’ economic model is devastating and convincing… If you want to get a panhandle on why Texas’s ‘Prosperity Model’ works, buy Chuck DeVore’s book.” –Wayne Lusvardi,Cal Watchdog(Refers to the 2012 edition.)