Protect the Public and Solve Crimes through Improving Crime Clearance Rates: Holding people accountable for committing crimes is one of the main ways to deter crime. However, crime clearance rates are extremely low; for example, in 2022, Texas only solved about 50 percent of murders and 18 percent of rapes. Texas must support law enforcement and identify ways to prioritize solving violent crimes to get dangerous offenders off the street and keep our communities safe.

Allow Judges the Ability to Deny Bail for Serious Threats to Public Safety: Dangerous criminals can still be released on bail — even for violent crimes such as murder — because judges are prohibited from denying them bail. Texas must prioritize public safety by passing a constitutional amendment allowing judges to deny bail in these serious, high-risk cases.

Correct Incentives in Civil Asset Forfeiture: Civil asset forfeiture is a mechanism used by law enforcement that allows them to acquire an individual’s assets before they are proven guilty of a crime. The use of civil asset forfeiture to supplement or meet budgeting requirements strains and damages the relationship between the police and their communities. Texas should require that seized assets be directed to a statewide fund rather than the individual law enforcement agency to remove the perverse incentive for law enforcement to seize assets.

Eliminate Grand Jury Shopping: Prosecutors in Texas are currently permitted to present the same case to multiple grand juries without any new evidence. Commonly referred to as “grand jury shopping,” this practice allows prosecutors to present cases repeatedly until a favorable one to the prosecution is found. Texas should prohibit a grand jury from investigating a person suspected of an offense if that person has previously been investigated and the grand jury issued no indictment — unless the prosecutor presents new evidence that was not known to the state before or during the previous investigation.

Require Presentation of Exculpatory Evidence in Grand Juries: Currently, state attorneys are not required to submit exculpatory evidence to a grand jury. The existing legal structure allows vital information to be kept from the members of a grand jury, who should have access to as much information as possible to make informed decisions when deciding whether there is probable cause to issue an indictment against the accused. Texas should require that prosecutors submit any evidence favorable to the suspect, material to the offense, and in possession or control of any person under contract with the State of Texas.

Permit Duress as an Affirmative Defense: Human traffickers use a variety of different methods to exert control over their victims, including violence, threat of violence, and psychological manipulation. Traffickers often use these tactics to force or coerce victims to commit crimes. Texas should amend the definition of duress to provide victims with an avenue to establish an affirmative defense of prosecution. 

Family Mitigation and Diversion Laws: Incarceration has devastating effects on Texas families. Over 4/5ths of incarcerated women and 2/3rds of incarcerated men in the state are parents. While their parents are incarcerated, children are separated from them during critical periods of development. Research shows that children of incarcerated parents benefit from continuing contact with their parents, and incarcerated parents who have regular contact with their children are at reduced risk of recidivism. Texas should consider diversion laws similar to those already enacted by other states that grant parents found guilty of nonviolent offenses priority access to community-based alternatives to incarceration.