Criminal Justice Committee
Examines Prison Numbers
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee held its first meeting of the 77th Interim today, Monday, January 28, 2002. The committee will be reporting on five different charges to the 78th Legislature.
At this meeting Dr. Tony Fabelo, Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Policy Council, testified regarding the most recent numbers on the prison population. As of the most recent dates available, the prison population was exactly where it was expected to be, with 5000 reserve beds above 100% capacity. Unfortunately, the prison system still has a shortage of staff officers.
Other questions from the members involved re-examining the roles of parole officers, the tracking of offenders on probation and better reporting of prison data in general. The committee also heard about a new fund for mental health services.
The Senate Criminal Justice committee is chaired by Senator Kenneth Armbrister of Victoria. The vice chairman is Senator John Whitmire of Houston. Members include Senators Teel Bivins of Amarillo, Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth, Steve Ogden of Bryan, Todd Staples of Palestine and Royce West of Dallas. The committee adjourned subject to the call of the chair with the time and place of its next meeting to be announced at a later date.