National Advocacy Group Weighs in on Incentives to Decrease Texas’ State Jail Population

March 17, 2015

Austin, TX -- Today Grassroots Leadership testified in favor of Texas Senate Bill 589, to streamline the process to grant diligent participation credit to people incarcerated in Texas’ State Jails. Grassroots Leadership works to address over-reliance on criminalization, incarceration, and detention.  As such, are working in coalition with statewide partners to find responsible and fair pathways for individuals to exit the criminal justice system.  
“In our estimation, Texas’ state jail system in particular provides many opportunities for reform that could both improve the lives of those who are sentenced to it, as well as save taxpayers valuable resources.” said Kymberlie Quong Charles, Criminal Justice Programs Director for Grassroots Leadership. “SB 589 gives the Texas Department of Criminal Justice the authority to grant diligent participation credits, cutting out a middle man that currently utilizes too many resources and disincentivizes participation.  SB 589 is a win-win both for those serving state jail sentences, as well as the community at large which would be welcoming home people who are better prepared to return to society.  What’s more, it will save us much needed state dollars that could be used for expanding the programming opportunities for those wishing to decrease their sentences.”  
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has released data nearly 100% of individuals incarcerated in state jails in 2012 were convicted of nonviolent, non-sexually based crimes, and that, if implemented according to the proposed legislation, our state could be saving over $3,000 for each individual who chooses to participate in the program1.  
“Above all, for Grassroots Leadership, SB 589 is meaningful avenue for people who have been sentenced to state jail to be active participants in their own rehabilitation and reducing their sentences,” said Quong Charles.  “Our vision for a future Texas is one in which far fewer people are living in the custody of the state and incentives for exiting and remaining on the outside of the criminal justice system are key to realizing that vision.  We believe SB 589 makes relevant strides in the right direction.”  



Kymberlie Quong Charles