At Just Liberty, we believe that the Texas criminal justice system requires comprehensive reform, from how law enforcement confronts citizens on the streets and at traffic stops, to the failures of prisons and jails to rehabilitate, to ineffective parole and reentry mechanisms that leave tens of thousands of ex-offenders stranded without jobs or hope.
We’ve already launched these initiatives: No arrests for traffic infractions, Drivers’ rights: reform asset forfeiture, Raise the age of adulthood to 18, Reduce low-level marijuana penalties, prioritize treatment over incarceration for low-level drug offenders, and Abolition of the Driver Responsibility Surcharge.
Texas’ criminal-justice system is too large, too unwieldy, and has been asked to do too many things, resulting in widespread mission creep. Fines and fees substitute for taxation. Criminal laws masquerade as business regulation. Police are tasked with confronting homelessness rather than social workers, and in schools have replaced assistant principals handling discipline. Prisons and jails too often substitute for mental-health facilities. The list goes on and on.
As a Texas judge informed a woman as he jailed her for inability to pay ticket, overcriminalization and mass incarceration ensure “job security” for an eye-popping array of government employees whose livelihoods depend on an ever-increasing number of people being arrested, prosecuted, and punished, even when crime itself is going down.
Today, crime in Texas stands near a three-decade low. But we arrest and prosecute more people than ever, assigning more serious punishments to lesser offenses or prosecuting them more aggressively. The number of people Texas punishes has long ago become disconnected from public safety imperatives. The enormous volumes of humanity we see processed through Texas’ system today are much more about “job security,” as the judge put it. That entitled mentality must end.
Stop over criminalizing petty offenses
Treatment not prison for drug offenses, mental illness
Protecting Property Rights: Asset forfeiture reform