This afternoon at 2:00 Central Time, Right On Crime will announce the results of a poll taken to measure attitudes towards criminal justice reform in Texas. The poll asked three questions:
1. In addressing Texas’ budget shortfall, do you favor or oppose policymakers applying the same level of scrutiny to the size and cost of the Texas prison system as to other government programs?
67% were in favor.
2. If you knew that prison is twenty times more expensive than mandatory probation, then would you favor or oppose requiring non-violent, first-time felony offenders to work and pay restitution while on mandatory probation supervision in order to help close Texas’ budget shortfall?
80% were in favor.
3. Would you favor or oppose stronger court oversight and mandatory treatment instead of prison for low-level drug possession offenders with no prior felonies on their record?
78% were in favor.
Political dialogue in Texas is currently dominated by the question of how to address the state’s budget shortfall. In such an environment — one in which budgetary concerns are paramount — the results of this poll are especially important. They indicate that Texans who are concerned with finding thoughtful ways to balance the state budget are willing to look at reforming the criminal justice system.
At the announcement later today, Marc Levin of Right On Crime will discuss the poll results — and the implications for public policy in Texas — along with Michael Sullivan of Empower Texans and Bill Hammond of the Texas Association of Business. For those who cannot attend the announcement, an audio recording will be posted here at RightOnCrime.com.
UPDATE: Click below to listen to the recording.