AUSTIN – Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice Director Marc Levin and Senior Policy Analyst Derek Cohen issued the following statements on the Texas Legislature’s passage of House Bill 2398:

“We salute the Texas Legislature for passing HB 2398 which will decriminalize truancy in Texas, leaving Wyoming as the only remaining state that gives children an adult criminal record for truancy,” said Levin. “Under this legislation, truancy will be a status offense, which does not create a lifetime criminal record. This bill has been thoroughly researched and will ensure that more effective measures are used than jail cells to get our kids back in school. This truancy reform legislation is a momentous victory for Texas families and for the principle of limited government, and a further continuation of Texas’ recent juvenile justice reform accomplishments that have reduced delinquency and helped right-size our justice system.”

“The current system has used punishment as a first resort rather than a last resort, with the Dallas truancy court having collected over $3 million in fines and confining more than 100 students in one year alone,” said Cohen. “HB 2398 prioritizes prevention and school-based measures, such as a school truancy officer reaching out to the family when a child is missing from class. For those kids who do not respond to school interventions, municipal and justice of the peace courts will work with parents and students to address the underlying reasons for truancy. Only in those rare cases where sanctions imposed by these courts other than confinement have failed can the child be referred to juvenile court where he could face additional sanctions, including brief confinement for being in contempt of court.”

For more information or to request an interview with Mr. Levin or Mr. Cohen, please contact Caroline Espinosa at [email protected].

Marc A. Levin is director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. 
Derek Cohen is a senior policy analyst with the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. 

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.

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