Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Justice Center Scenarios on Treatment Programs

Justice Center, The Council of State Governments

65.1 million dollars savings between 2008-2012, lowering the prison population and increasing the bed spaces at treatment facilities.

Quoted below is the plan as presented by The Council on State Governments:
Texas Justice
“Under the leadership of three key lawmakers,
policymakers in Texas are reviewing policies in
the state to find ways to increase public safety
and to manage corrections spending and growth
in the prison population. In 2006, Senator John
Whitmire (D, Chair, Criminal Justice Committee),
Representative Jerry Madden (R, Chair, Corrections
Committee), and Senator Kim Brimer (R, Chair,
Sunset Advisory Commission) each convened
hearings and commissioned reviews to improve
their understanding of why the prison population
continues to grow and what is contributing to
high rates of failure among people released from
prison to the community and people sentenced to
This policy brief, prepared at the direction of
Senator Whitmire and Representative Madden,
reviews aspects of two possible justice reinvestment
scenarios in which policymakers enact policies
to address the projected shortfall of over 17,000
prison beds in Texas by 2012.1 In the first scenario,
policymakers increase tools available to the Parole
Board to enhance the use of parole guidelines in
the state. In the second scenario, policymakers
increase the capacity of treatment-oriented facilities
and the availability of substance abuse and mental
health services. Although the scenarios each
include distinct strategies, there is also some
overlap between the two, so the scenarios cannot be
combined simply to double the impact on prison
beds or on corrections spending.
The fiscal impact projected for each scenario is
based upon assumptions regarding cost, timing,
and diversion that have been used in prior research.
Both these assumptions and the projections
described in this brief were developed with the
help and approval of Legislative Budget Board staff.
Savings were calculated by comparing the cost of
each scenario with the status quo (i.e., the budget
presented by TDCJ in the General Appropriations
Bill, As Introduced, Eightieth Legislative Regular
Session, 2007.)2
The Justice Center is providing intensive technical assistance to Texas and a limited number of other states that demonstrate a
bipartisan interest in justice reinvestment—a data-driven strategy for policymakers to reduce spending on corrections, increase
public safety, and improve conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return.
Collaborative Approaches Projected Fiscal Impact to Public Safety
$65.1 million
net savings for the five-year period of 2008 –2012
explanation: For the 2008–2009 fiscal year, the LBB projects
no savings in General Revenue because of the $78.9 million cost
associated with increasing the number of treatment-oriented
beds and services. For the three-year period of 2010–2012,
however, the total projected savings is of $144.1 million as the
prison population is reduced from the projected baseline level.
This results in a five-year net savings of $65.1 million. This
does not include avoided construction cost of $377.7 for the
construction of new prisons as was proposed by TDCJ as an
“exceptional item” to the state appropriations bill.
1. Projections by the Legislative Budget Board, January 2007 as
discussed in the Council of State Governments Justice Center bulletin
entitled “Recent and Projected Growth of the Texas Prison Population,”
January 2007.
2. Memorandum from John O’Brian, Director of the LBB to Senator John
Whitmire, January 23, 2006.
3. The Sunset Advisory Commission is a 12-member body of legislators
and public members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and
the Speaker of the House of Representatives to provide the legislature
with assessments of an agency’s programs. The Commission convened a
review of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in 2006. In October
2006, the Commission published its staff report entitled “Sunset
Advisory Commission: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Board of
Pardons and Paroles, Correctional Managed Health Care Committee Staff
4. Sunset Advisory Commission: Texas Department of Criminal Justice,
Board of Pardons and Paroles, Correctional Managed Health Care Committee
Staff Report, October 2006, page 13.
5. For a complete analysis, see The Council of State Governments Justice
Center, “ Policy Options to Increase Public Safety and to Manage the
Growth of the Texas Prison Population,” January 2007.
6. Ibid, Sunset Advisory Commission Staff Report, page 11.
7. Ibid, page 13.”
8. Council of State Governments Justice Center, “Policy Options to
Increase Public Safety and to Manage the Growth of the Texas Prison
Population,” January 2007.
figure 4: General Revenue Related Funds, Five-Year
Fiscal Impact of Scenario Two (“Increase Availability
of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment-
Oriented Facilities and Services”)
Probable Net Positive/(Negative)
Impact to General Revenue Funds
2008 ($58,899,220)
2009 ($20,074,299)
Subtotal 2008–09 ($78,973,519)
2010 $19,672,192
2011 $46,755,795
2012 $77,679,739
Subtotal 2010–12 $144,107,726
Total Net
Savings 2008–12
Justice Center
Council of State Governments
100 Wall Street, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10005
project contact:
LaToya McBean
(646) 383-5721
The Council of State Governments Justice Center is a national
nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local,
state, and federal levels from all branches of government. The
Center provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus driven
strategies, informed by available evidence, to increase
public safety and strengthen communities. The board of directors
for the center includes, as its vice chairperson, the Honorable
Sharon Keller, Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals. Representative Jerry Madden, Chair of the Texas House
Corrections Committee, also serves on this board. Dr. Tony
Fabelo, working with designated agency and legislative staff in
Texas, coordinates the project in Texas for the Justice Center.
Research and analysis described in this report
has been funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance,
a division of the U.S. Department of
Justice and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Through
its Public Safety Performance Project, which assists
select states that want better results from
their sentencing and corrections systems, Pew’s
project provides nonpartisan research, analysis
and expertise to help states identify data-driven,
fiscally responsible options for protecting public
safety, holding offenders accountable, and controlling
corrections costs.
4 Texas Justice Reinvestment Scenarios

This writer believes these scenarios should provoke a great deal of interest for probation. Funding treatment programs seem to move with ease when the alternative is paying for new prison beds. High costs of manning prisons and building additional prisons have become more unpopular today among the legislative bodies around the country. Addressing the root of the problem of criminal behavior and the on-going drug/alcohol addiction among many offenders is vital to keep our communities safe. Sending these offenders to treatment seems to be the panacea to reduce prison populations. It would be an interesting read to review the recidivist rates of those who successfully completed treatment verses those who completed time incarcerated in the state penitentiary. A study is needed to do a cost comparison of offenders who complete the treatment programs, relapse, and end up back in the system and more treatment and/or incarceration. Could the multiple trips to treatment facilities outweigh the cost of a prison bed? I would be naive to say treatment works the first time for all who are referred to the programs. At first glance savings of $65.1 million dollars seems like someone stumbled on the missing Dead Sea Scrolls, but after applying reality to the statistically challenging scenario, it seems somewhat misleading without addressing recidivism. At some point, we are going to have to look at building prisons or filling beds because treatment does not work all the time for all people. It is a good tool for those who wish to remove themselves from this underground drug culture. For those who play the treatment card, we need to be ready to raise the stakes with the real cost analysis or we can fold and continue to address treatment as a revolving door solution. I wonder how can a treatment bed is cheaper than a minimum stay prison bed and why treatment providers are not used more often in a prison setting?
My experience remembers visiting many prisons and noticing AA/NA meetings, drug abuse classes, and other programs for those who wish to participate and take full advantage of free treatment. Criminal behavior should be looked at more carefully and not rewarded with a get of jail treatment card. Being mindful of the full scope of criminal behavior with drug/alcohol addiction brings me to conclude we should be selective as to how our tax revenues are spent on treatment. I believe in a one-time treatment program sanctioned by the State. If you are referred to treatment, you will get one opportunity to succeed at no expense to you. If you fail or relapse, as many do, then you will need to pay for the treatment or face the consequences of non-compliance. This accountable system will never be popular among the legislators. Drug and alcohol abusers should not be allowed to frequent as many treatment facilities as deemed necessary to avoid jail time. AA/NA meetings are available nearly everywhere in the country. The 12 steps, if worked diligently by the abuser, can change his or her life. Once the tools are given to the offender, it is time to see if he or she can build on their sobriety. Lets make the offender accountable and not the taxpayer.


Anonymous said...

Here's a website you may find useful. is a site for friends, families, and those who suffer from various addictions.

ben said...

I am upset on how I had to go about getting more help for my addiction. I walked into probation asked officer if there was any thing out there longer than an 90 day program that I could get into for more help with my addiction to meth. When offered a 9 month program I was happy because the help I wanted was really out there, but in order for myself to get help in this program I had to be arrested spent 45 days in county jail and then had to have my probation revoked, which means that I now have to live with a fellony charge on my record. I can not believe that I was made to look like a bad person all because the state or the county wanted to look like they were doing something good for the community when I was the one whom asked for this help in the first place. The time I spent in county jail was a waist of tax payers money and I believe the tax payers need to know more on how and why their money is being waisted on people like myself whom ask for the help. Also why is it that you are to sing your report paper when talking to your probation officer before you even talk to them, the whole point in signing this paper is to agree to all that was written on the form from your P.O but instead they write what they want on them and make it look like you agreed to all the statements on it that they wrote. I call that false verivication of records and there is a law against that so how can the county be allowed to do this kind of thing. I believe this all needs to be looked into befor it gets taken to a higher government then just the state of Texas. When I finish this program in rehab I believe my record should be clean and probation should be released as well since the probation office is the one to blame for going about this in the wrong way.
Thank you
(Benjamin Lucas)

Amarillo, Texas
Potter County

TCPCD said...


As with any person writing on this subject, I am personally grateful that you took the steps to seek treatment. It is refreshing to hear a person wanting treatment and talking to his or her probation officer. Out of professional respect for your probation officer, I do not believe it is good taste to criticize any officer. I do not know your background and do not know your specific judge’s wishes when it comes to the circumstance.

Let me stress what you already know. You should continue to take ownership of your addiction, seek treatment, and education (addiction web sites are wonderful). Use the tools the counselors give you. Understand probation balances the public need for accountability and your need for treatment. Personal responsibility should be the number one issue in your life. Actions always result in reactions. By you seeking out treatment and work your program each day of your life, you can confidently do your probation, finish it, and get on with your life.

Understand there were laws broken in illegal drug use. Society expects you to do your part in recovery. You can take your experiences and mentor others with the understanding the consequences of drug abuse and reality of illegal behavior may result in jail or prison. It is not easy. Your experiences should make you a leader amongst those who are struggling with stopping drug use. Best of luck.