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Senate Committee on Criminal Justice - 84th R.S. (2015)

Committee Members
John Whitmire, Chair
Joan Huffman, Vice Chair
Konni Burton
Brandon Creighton
Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa
Charles Perry
Leticia Van de Putte
• Conduct an in-depth examination of current jail safety practices, identify and address where our system is failing, and how the state can be more supportive to all involved.*
• Police Safety and Community Engagement: Review law enforcement efforts to engage community leaders and increase their involvement in communities. Assess dangers to law enforcement officers and the collection and distribution of threat assessment data. Make recommendations to reduce the number of injuries and deaths to or by law enforcement officers.
• Jail Safety Standards in Texas: Evaluate the current guidelines and practices in county and municipal jails relating to the health, welfare, and safety of those in custody. Review law enforcement and correctional officer training, with emphasis on mental health and de-escalation. Study the effectiveness of existing oversight mechanisms to enforce jail standards; making recommendations for policies and procedures if needed. Examine the current mental health and substance use treatment services and medical resources offered in county, municipal, and state correctional facilities.
• Re-Entry and Continuity of Care: Review current programs provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the Windham School for incarcerated persons to prepare them for re-entry, including inmates in administrative segregation. Examine opportunities for incarcerated persons once they are released and make recommendations to expand successful programs to provide resources and support for released inmates. Assess the success of Certified Peer Support Services. Continue to monitor the Darrington Seminary Program. Study the continuity of care for individuals released from TDCJ, the Windham School, and county and municipal jails and make recommendations if needed.
• Diversion: Examine the success of current pretrial diversion and treatment programs in Texas and in other states. Make recommendations on best practices and how to implement and expand these programs in Texas to maximize effective use of resources and reduce populations in jails.
• Bulk Criminal Records Dissemination: Study how bulk criminal records are disseminated. Review the list of entities with access to and their current use of criminal records. Make recommendations to streamline the dissemination of records through bulk requests to ensure accuracy and limit inappropriate use of records.
• Contact with Incarcerated Inmates: Review costs family members incur to maintain contact with an incarcerated family member. Make recommendations to promote familial contact and relationships for incarcerated individuals. Review visitation practices across the state in determining effective and appropriate methods of maintaining familial contact for incarcerated individuals.
• Civil Asset Forfeiture: Conduct a study of civil asset forfeiture laws in Texas and compare them to similar laws in other states. Determine best practices to protect public safety and the private property rights of citizens. Examine the reporting requirements and recommend legislative changes if needed to ensure transparency.
• Monitoring Charge: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation. Specifically, monitor the following: 1) Decriminalization of school truancy and the response of school districts to take steps to address truancy before referring students to court; 2) Progress and success of the Governor’s Office grant program for law enforcement body cameras; 3) Changes made to the operation of the Civil Commitment program in Texas; 4) Administration of Veterans Treatment Court Programs; and 5) Progress made by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to plan for regionalization of the youth population, create specialized programs, and implement established sentencing schemes.
* This represents an abstract of the report contents. Charge text is incomplete or unavailable.

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