Editorial

12 December 2022

Capitol Update: House Interim Charge – Corrections

With decorated trees and nativity scenes going up and temperatures starting to fall, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Texas. While many folks think of the holiday season as “the most wonderful time of the year,” it’s important to remember that there are many of our fellow Texans who are less fortunate and struggle every day to provide for themselves and their families. This holiday season, I want to encourage you to work with your church, a local food bank, a shelter, or any other service organization making an effort to provide food, clothing, and other basic necessities to those in need. If you need help finding a local program or charity, please don’t hesitate to contact our office and we will be happy to assist you.

With that, we’ll dive back into our examination of House interim charges. . .

House Interim Charge: Corrections

As we continue our overview of House Interim Charges, the next committee on our stop is the House Committee on Corrections. With nine sitting members, the Corrections Committee oversees all matters pertaining to incarceration at the state level, programs to provide alternatives to incarceration, and has purview over the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). As many of you know, TDCJ has a strong presence in East Texas and many employees of the department live in our district; as such, this office monitors the policies discussed in this committee very closely.

Like most committees, House Corrections will conduct active oversight on relevant legislation passed in recent legislative sessions to ensure the policy language and measures are working as intended. Much of the work includes legislation and studies on reducing recidivism to lower the rate of individuals released from prison and relapsing into criminal behavior. For example, HB 30 provides a high school education program for inmates younger than 18 or younger than 22 for individuals with disabilities. Providing education to young inmates has the potential to improve reentry rates once the individual has served their time and paid their debt to society. Similarly, the Committee will examine HB 3130, passed in the 85th legislative session, which established a pilot program to provide educational and vocational training, employment, and reentry services to certain defendants.

Throughout the interim, the Committee will explore the availability of mental health services for individuals in county jails, TDCJ facilities, or on parole. The study also included a joint charge with the Committee on County Affairs to make recommendations for treatment and recovery options and the best practices to address the needs of individuals experiencing withdrawal from drug or alcohol use.

The House Corrections Committee will also evaluate the benefits and potential savings associated with modernizing technology throughout the state’s correctional system and consider updating regulations related to cell phone monitoring, body cameras, and video surveillance systems. Additionally, the evaluation includes assessing current family visitation rooms and visitation-related practices, programs, and services to make visitation more family-friendly.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will post regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and share information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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