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In 2007, the Texas Department of Corrections projected a shortfall of 17,000 prison beds over the next five years and recommended the construction of 4,000 new beds at a cost of more than $900 million. Texas legislators requested assistance from the Public Safety Performance Project and its partner, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, to identify cost-effective options to avert prison growth while protecting public safety.

The 2007 legislature approved a data-driven plan that invested over $241 million in evidence-based strategies to reduce recidivism. The reform package included swift and graduated sanctions, incentives to promote compliance with the terms of probation, and drug courts. It also cut the maximum probation terms of some property and drug offenders from 10 to five years to help agencies tighten their supervision during the earlier years when offenders are mostly likely to commit new crimes.

Since enactment, the recidivism rate has dropped 25 percent, crime rates are at their lowest level since 1968, and the state has avoided nearly $3 billion in prison costs.