Texans’ Voice for Public Safety
- Develop a comprehensive model to identify, train, assign, retain, promote, and support police officers. The most effective area for improving policing is in hiring and training. A skilled, capable police officer enjoys a greater sense of security in dealing with the public and is better equipped to make the most appropriate use of force decisions. The Texas Public Policy Foundation is establishing hiring and training standards to ensure that each police officer is capable of the job the community expects him or her to perform.
- Reform reentry policies to reduce recidivism and keep our streets safe. “Reentry” is the term used to describe the process of reintegrating criminal offenders back into their communities. The reality is that 95 percent of people in prison will eventually be released. However, even after someone has paid his or her debt to society, the tolls of incarceration are extensive and far-reaching, limiting opportunities for employment, housing, financial stability and education. Faced with these challenges, the cycle of crime too often repeats itself, putting communities at risk. Effective reentry policies and programming remove barriers to transformation so that people can go from prison to paycheck and keep our communities safe.
- Guarantee that crime victims are the first to recover restitution. When a property crime or a violent crime occurs, the primary aggrieved party is the individual victim, not the government, and thus the compensation should go primarily to the individual victim, not the government. Our system now focuses more on prosecuting defendants for the harm they have done to society at large, rather than the harm they have done to their victim. It is important to pay attention to the effect crime has on society, but we must not neglect the victim’s rights.
- Provide greater transparency in sentencing. For more than a decade, conservative states have shown that smart sentencing reforms can safely reduce prison populations while decreasing crime.
- Develop strategies to build trust between local law enforcement and policed communities, creating open communication for public input with actionable steps to implement reforms. Our police play a critical role in government’s core function of protecting rights and keeping the peace. They are an integral part of our communities and our government at every level. Ensuring they remain both a part of the community as well as fulfilling their role within the government is vital to both liberty and public safety.
- Ensure our bail system serves the public first through risk-based assessments and bring greater transparency to the grand jury system. Bail should be based on risk, not riches. However, Texas’s current approach results in many low-risk defendants remaining in jail simply because they cannot afford low bail amounts while others who are extremely dangerous obtain release because they are wealthy. It is often said that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. This is largely because a grand jury receives the facts of the case solely from the perspective of the State. Simple but necessary reforms would be to require prosecutors to share exculpatory evidence with grand juries and either record or transcribe the entire grand jury proceedings.
- Implement a community-based, “closer-to-home” model of juvenile justice. Regionalization of the juvenile justice system by further diverting youths to community punishment and supervision, while also accounting for risk level of offenders to protect public safety would help create safer neighborhoods and produce better outcomes for Texas youth. This allows them to remain closer to their families and communities while shrinking costs for taxpayers.
- Develop a third-party efficiency audit in city governments to ensure police resources are being best used to keep the public safe. Adequate funding of the police is essential to ensure they can serve and protect as well as keep themselves and their communities safe. Third-party efficiency audits would help identify priority areas to ensure resources are applied judiciously and without politization.