A New Bottom Line

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Texas Tough Gets Smart


By Robyn Short

texas-state-capitolTexas has always had a tough on crime approach — an approach that is weak on human rights and tough on human decency as well as on the Texas state budget. This legislative session, Texas politicians took a serious look at criminal justice and made steps to getting smart on crime.

The 83rd Texas State Legislative Session concluded with 52 “smart-on-crime” policies that have either made their way to the Governor’s desk or that have already been signed into law. Thank you to our state legislators for 188 days of hard work for the people of Texas.

Thank you to the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, a nonprofit organization that works with peers, policy-makers, practitioners, and community members to identify and promote smart justice policies that safely reduce Texas’ costly over-reliance on incarceration – creating stronger families, less taxpayer waste, and safer communities, for creating this comprehensive list.


Sunset Legislation

SB 213 (Whitmire; Nichols): Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and the Windham School District and to the functions of the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee.


Youth Justice

HB 144 (Raymond): Relating to a mental examination of a child subject to the juvenile justice system.

HB 232 (Guillen): Relating to allowing certain minors convicted of certain alcohol offenses to perform community service instead of attending an alcohol awareness program.

HB 528 (Turner, Sylvester; Giddings; Miles; Wu): Relating to the restriction of access to the records and files of a child charged with or convicted of certain fine-only misdemeanor offenses.

HB 1318 (Turner, Sylvester): Relating to the appointment of counsel to represent certain youths and indigent defendants. HB 1318 amendment: SB 592 (Ellis): Relating to the representation of indigent defendants in criminal cases.

HB 1479 (Villareal): Relating to establishing a committee in certain counties to recommend a uniform truancy policy.

HB 1952 (Thompson, Senfronia): Relating to professional development training for certain public school personnel regarding student disciplinary procedures.

HB 2719 (Guillen): Relating to collecting and reporting information concerning inmates who have been in the conservatorship of a state agency responsible for providing child protective services and concerning inmate parole, reentry, and integration. HB 2719 amendment: HB 2812 (Toth): Relating to an annual report by the reentry and integration division and the parole division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

HB 2733 (White): Relating to the administration and operation of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.

HB 2862 (McClendon): Relating to procedures related to juvenile cases.

  • HB 2862 amendment: SB 1440 (West): Relating to adjudication and disposition of juvenile conduct.
  • HB 2862 amendment: SB 1517 (Van de Putte): Relating to the collection of data regarding the placement of a child in disciplinary seclusion in a juvenile facility.

SB 92 (Van de Putte): Relating to the designation of a juvenile court and a program for certain juveniles who may be the victims of human trafficking. Effective on 9/1/13

SB 393 (West): Relating to the criminal procedures related to children who commit certain Class C misdemeanors.

SB 394 (West): Relating to restricting access to records of children convicted of or receiving deferred disposition for certain fine-only misdemeanors.

SB 395 (West): Relating to fines and court costs imposed on a child in a criminal case.

SB 670 (Whitmire): Relating to the copying of certain records and files relating to a child who is a party to a juvenile proceeding. Effective Immediately, 5/24

SB 833 (Davis): Relating to the collection of data through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) as to the foster care status of public school students.

SB 914 (Lucio): Relating to a behavior improvement plan or a behavioral intervention plan adopted for certain students with an individualized education program.

SB 1003 (Carona): Relating to a review of and report regarding the use of adult and juvenile administrative segregation in facilities in this state. SB 1003 amendment: SB 1517 (Van de Putte): Relating to the collection of data regarding the placement of a child in disciplinary seclusion in a juvenile facility.

SB 1114 (Whitmire; West): Relating to the prosecution of certain misdemeanor offenses committed by children and to school district law enforcement.

SB 1234 (Whitmire): Relating to the prevention of truancy and the offense of failure to attend school. SB 1234 amendment: HB 1479 (Villareal): Relating to establishing a committee in certain counties to recommend a uniform truancy policy.

SB 1356 (Van de Putte): Relating to human trafficking and its victims and the care of juveniles who have experienced traumatic events.

  • SB 1356 amendment: HB 1120 (Riddle; Miller, Rick; Fletcher; Dutton; Thompson, Senfronia): Relating to the duties of the Texas Crime Stoppers Council to encourage individuals to report criminal activity related to trafficking of persons.
  • SB 1356 amendment: HB 3407 (Riddle; Harless; Rose; Thompson, Senfronia): Relating to the assessment of juveniles who are victims of sex trafficking.

SB 1769 (Rodríguez): Relating to the creation of an advisory committee to examine the fingerprinting practices of juvenile probation departments.


Pretrial, Defense & Innocence

HB 577 (Guillen): Relating to the representation of certain applicants for writs of habeas corpus in cases involving the death penalty.

HB 1847 (Carter): Relating to continuing legal education in ethics or professional responsibility for prosecutors.

HB 2090 (Canales): Relating to a written statement made by an accused as a result of custodial interrogation.

SB 344 (Whitmire): Relating to the procedure for an application for a writ of habeas corpus based on relevant scientific evidence.

SB 825 (Whitmire): Relating to disciplinary standards and procedures applicable to grievances alleging certain prosecutorial misconduct.

SB 1044 (Rodríguez): Relating to access to criminal history record information by certain entities, including certain local government corporations, public defender’s offices, and the office of capital writs, and to an exemption for those offices from fees imposed for processing inquiries for that information.

SB 1292 (Ellis): Relating to DNA testing of biological evidence in certain capital cases.

SB 1611 (Ellis; Duncan): Relating to discovery in a criminal case. Effective on 1/1/14


Safely Reducing Incarceration

HB 1790 (Longoria; Thompson, Senfronia; Burnam; Hughes; Rose): Relating to certain procedures for defendants who successfully complete a period of state jail felony community supervision.

SB 126 (Nelson): Relating to the creation of a mental health and substance abuse public reporting system.

SB 358 (Hinojosa): Relating to the use of a polygraph statement as evidence that a defendant or releasee from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has violated a condition of release.

SB 462 (Huffman): Relating to specialty court programs in this state.

SB 484 (Whitmire): Relating to the creation of a prostitution prevention program; authorizing a fee.

SB 1096 (Hinojosa): Relating to the monthly fee a defendant must pay during a period of community supervision.

SB 1173 (West): Relating to procedures for the sentencing and placement on community supervision of defendants charged with the commission of a state jail felony.


Confinement & Reentry

HB 62 (Guillen): Relating to a justice or judge having an interest in a business entity that owns, manages, or operates a private correctional or rehabilitation facility.

HB 86 (Callegari; Cook; Laubenberg): Relating to the criteria for review by the Sunset Advisory Commission of an agency that licenses an occupation.

HB 634 (Farias; Lucio III): Relating to the verification of an inmate’s veteran status by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

HB 797 (Thompson, Senfronia; Miles): Relating to certain written information the Windham School District must provide to a person before the person enrolls in a district vocational training program.

HB 798 (Thompson, Senfronia): Relating to certain actions taken by certain licensing authorities regarding a license holder or applicant who has been convicted of a Class C misdemeanor.

HB 799 (Thompson, Senfronia; Miles): Relating to vocational training programs provided by the Windham School District.

HB 1188 (Thompson, Senfronia; Perry; Miles): Relating to limiting the liability of persons who employ persons with criminal convictions.

HB 1544 (Allen): Relating to the authority of a county to contract with a private vendor for the operation of a detention facility.

HB 1659 (Thompson, Senfronia): Relating to certain actions taken by certain licensing authorities regarding a license holder or applicant who received deferred adjudication for certain offenses.

SB 107 (West): Relating to the disclosure by a court of criminal history record information that is the subject of an order of nondisclosure.

SB 345 (Whitmire): Relating to certain programs for inmates, including the abolition of the state boot camp program and the use of programs by volunteer and faith-based organizations. SB 345 amendment: HB 2811 (Toth): Relating to programs provided by volunteer and faith-based organizations to inmates in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

SB 369 (Whitmire): Relating to certain information available to the public on a central database containing information about sex offenders.

SB 1003 (Carona): Relating to a review of and report regarding the use of adult and juvenile administrative segregation in facilities in this state.

SB 1185 (Huffman): Relating to the creation of a mental health jail diversion pilot program.

SB 1289 (Williams): Relating to certain business entities engaged in the publication of mug shots and other information regarding the involvement of an individual in the criminal justice system; providing a civil penalty.


Victim Assistance

SB 745 (Nelson): Relating to sexual assault prevention and crisis services and to the administration of the Crime Victims’ Compensation Act.

Robyn Short Blogger and Author

 has ghostwritten numerous books and is the founder of goodmedia press and goodmedia communications. She is a student of A Course in Miracles, a self-study system of spiritual psychotherapy. Robyn is a passionate believer in peace and social justice. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Auburn University, a Masters of Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University and will graduate with a Masters in Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution from Southern Methodist University in 2014. Robyn is the author of Prayers for Peace, and the forthcoming children’s book Peace People, co-authored with Nanon Williams.  Robyn is available for book signings and to speak on topics of peacebuilding and nonviolence, especially as it relates to these core issues. Contact Robyn by email.

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