January 28, 2008
Grits talks criminal justice with Texas Monthly

Here's a nice little interview that Eileen Smith, in her civilian guise with Texas Monthly, did with Scott Henson.

What do you see as the most pressing criminal justice needs facing Texas today?

The criminal justice system, including every single subsystem, is completely overloaded, with nearly one in twenty adult Texans either in prison, on probation, or on parole. State prisons and county jails are overcrowded and can't find enough guards at current pay rates. The Legislature has created over 2,000 separate felonies for which it's possible to receive a prison term (eleven of them involving oysters). Sentences are longer than ever, and the state can't pay healthcare costs for the aging inmate population. The probation and parole systems have high caseloads that make it difficult to supervise offenders. Counties can't afford to pay lawyers for indigent defendants. Crime labs don't pass muster. The list goes on and on.

We've criminalized so many things and so many people--the system doesn't focus enough resources on protecting people from the most serious threats.

Good stuff. Check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 28, 2008 to Crime and Punishment