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Misdemeanor Probation Funding Could Be Eliminated

By Laura Nicholes
TAC Legislative Staff

The Community Justice Assistance Division (CJAD) within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) may receive severe budget cuts — in the neighborhood of $116 million — for basic community supervision funding, diversion programs, community corrections and treatment alternatives to incarceration.

Each of these four strategies are primarily funded by the state and implemented at the local level as preventative, long term, cost saving measures aimed at reducing recidivism, managing jail populations, providing courts with sentencing options and reducing commitments to state correctional facilities. State funding for each of these strategies is more cost-effective and successful when allocated at the local level rather than incarceration.

Such cuts would dramatically affect CJAD and its oversight and appropriation of funds to local adult probation departments. The local departments provide prison diversions through probation and community-based programs.

Proposed Cuts to Community Corrections/Prison Diversion Program Funds HB 1

 

2010-2011

2012-2013

Difference

est. % cut

Adult

$559,637,211

$443,551,483

– $116,085,728

20.7%

Misd.

 $28,939,038

$0

 – $28,939,038

100%


Although the Senate’s budget proposal is about $50 million higher for the adult community corrections/prison diversion program funds than the House proposal, the Senate also eliminated 100 percent of funding toward misdemeanor basic probation.

The proposed elimination of funding for basic misdemeanor probation could be harmful to the local criminal justice system, including county jails. These cuts will leave few sentencing options for the courts other than direct sentencing to county jails for misdemeanor offenders.

The Texas Legislature currently funds misdemeanor probation at a rate of 70 cents per day for 182 days, a bargain for the return on investment. Probation defendants contribute much of the remaining funds necessary, in the form of fees, to implement community supervision.

For additional information on this article, please contact TAC Legislative Staffer Laura Nicholes at (800) 456-5974 or .