Prison Overcrowding in Texas

If Texas is so concerned about this issue and the large amounts of prisoners waiting for “beds” in various rehabs and halfway houses, why are there only 5 {for men and 2 for women} SAFPF facilities left open in the state of Texas? Most of which are a minimum of 2 hours drive away for anyone. (I am about to give birth any day now and my husband will be sent to one of these facilities. Hopefully, I will not have to drive to Breckenridge to see him every weekend which is at least 5 hours away) This is a TDCJ run “rehab” that quite honestly, the prisoners don’t want to do because it’s too hard. My husband is one of those waiting for a bed in SAFPF and actually jumped at the chance to go to SAFPF. Although he has never had any actual drug charges (his charges were drug induced) he has repeatedly asked to be sent to rehab and has been refused.(by 3 different counties) Finally, we moved to Montgomery County and unfortunately, he messed up again. Luckily, he ended up in front of Judge Michael Mayes who actually is giving him the chance to go to rehab so he doesn’t end up making the same mistake again and can learn to deal with his problem instead of just drying out in prison.

This is the problem: the DA’s cut deals to get a conviction. Prisoners would rather spend 5 years in prison than to go to rehab of any kind even if the duration is a fifth of what they would spend in prison. But why give the prisoner the choice to get out of rehab? Drugs on on such a rise in this state and yet, it doesn’t matter how many of them get put behind bars…they get out and do the same things over and over again. Send them somewhere to REHABILITATE them, not just punish them. Their way of life and way of thinking must change.

The TDCJ system also has the rule that any prisoner who has had any gang affiliation in the past automatically go to Administrative Segregation. Now while this is a good idea, they are not eligible for any drug classes or college courses or anything else to help them improve their lives. This is not fair. A vast majority of the gang members either do drugs or are the ones running drugs so why should they not be allowed to rehabilitate also?

Bottom line is this: it costs less to put an offender through a rehab program than it does to put them in prison. It costs less to put an offender (especially a first time offender) through an extensive outpatient program and a longer probation time than to put them in prison, and yet the state still keeps cutting back these areas of rehabilitation. There is a saying in Texas…”Texas doesn’t raise cattle anymore, it raises prisoners”. Guess we gotta make money somewhere.

My suggestion…look into Judge Mays’ SAFPF re-entry program (attached) and his SAP program. Look at what works. Do the math…in 2002, Dr Thomas B Fomby and Ms. Vasudha Rangaprusud did a study on the Dallas County DIVERT program (drug program) and the cost effectiveness of it. Do a little more research about the SAFPF program and WHY the state closed so many of their SAFPF facilities. Prisoners are scared of this program. Send them there. If they screw up again…send them back…they won’t want to go. Let them know…”hey, if you screw up again, you have to do the same program, prison time is not an option”. That is an easy out for them. Lets get our state legislators thinking. I am proud of my state, but come on now…lets improve Texas, not find a way to waste more money on another prison.