State Fact Sheet

Public Safety in Texas

Though state leaders could not have foreseen the impact of their actions, Texas kicked off a nationwide wave of criminal justice reform by making comprehensive changes to its adult and juvenile corrections systems in 2007. To improve the state’s adult system, lawmakers invested $241 million over two years in a wide array of evidence-based strategies to reduce recidivism, including drug courts, swift and graduated sanctions for offenders who break the rules of their release, and incentives to promote compliance with the terms of probation. Since then, the state’s parole revocation rate—the rate at which released offenders violate parole and are returned to prison—has dropped 46 percent, and the overall crime rate in Texas is at its lowest since 1968. The reforms have also helped prevent more than $3 billion in anticipated prison spending. The Council of State Governments provided technical assistance on both sets of reforms.

We evaluated prisons based on whether they got results. Did an ex-offender get locked up again? Did he get a job? Is he paying restitution to his victims? In Texas, we believe in results.
—Governor Rick Perry (R)

Similarly, S.B. 103 prioritized space in Texas’ juvenile corrections facilities for high-risk offenders and invested the savings from reduced incarceration in effective community alternatives for less-serious offenders. In subsequent budget cycles, lawmakers allocated $57.8 million (2007), $45.7 million (2009), and $39 million (2011) for local, evidence-based programs. Between 2007 and 2012, the state cut youth arrests by 33 percent and the number of juveniles in secure state facilities by 65 percent, reduced spending by hundreds of millions of dollars, and reinvested much of the savings in juvenile probation.