House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence - 85th R.S. (2017)
- Evaluate the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Texas criminal justice system, including its effect on the speed of criminal trials and litigation, criminal courts, district attorneys' ability to prosecute, and attorneys' ability to provide proper defense. Recommend any changes that could improve operational stability of state criminal justice institutions following a natural disaster and changes that would allow for a more effective response.
- Assess developments in medical science and legal standards related to the imposition of the death penalty on defendants with serious mental illness or intellectual and developmental disabilities. Review statutorily prescribed jury instructions used during capital sentencing.
- Study current practices for the enforcement of criminal laws against low-level possession of marijuana. Examine the use of alternative punishments and improvements to criminal enforcement mechanisms and community supervision.
- Examine instances of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of defense counsel. Review systemic and structural issues affecting the resolution of criminal cases.
- Examine the legal framework surrounding sexual assault prosecutions, including statutory definitions, certain age-based offenses, and ongoing developments in evidence collection and processing.
- Review the Texas state jail system, including its original intent, sentencing guidelines, effectiveness, and recidivism rates. Make recommendations for changes in the state jail system that will improve outcomes. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Corrections)
- Monitor the work of the Office of Court Administration on pre-trial risk assessment tools for the Texas Judiciary, and study the use of risk assessment tools at various stages in the criminal justice process. Monitor litigation on Harris County pretrial bond practices. Monitor the implementation of the legislation passed by the 85th Legislature regarding the imposition of fines, fees, and court costs in criminal courts.
- Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature.
- Review the applicable portions of the state's penal laws and make legislative recommendations regarding whether existing protective order laws are sufficient or could be amended to include 'red flag' or mental health protective orders or whether 'red flag' or mental health protective orders should be independently created to allow law enforcement, a family member, a school employee, or a district attorney to file a petition seeking removal of firearms from a potentially dangerous person and providing for mental health treatment for the potentially dangerous person, while preserving the fundamental rights of the Second Amendment and ensuring due process.
- Examine current statutes designed to protect minors from accessing firearms without proper supervision and make recommendations to ensure responsible and safe firearm storage, including enhancing the penalty to a felony when unauthorized access results in death or bodily injury.
Charge relating to the school safety added by the Speaker on June 1, 2018. ("Speaker Straus issues New Committee Charges Related to School Safety," Press Release, June 1, 2018.)
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