Texas' prison population is shrinking. The state has made great strides in recent years to offer community alternatives to long sentences. But with a budget crisis looming, state prison officials are saying they won't consider closing a single prison. Laying off staff and cutting prison programs while keeping 112 costly prisons running is a mistake, and will lead Texas back to the cycle of crime and punishment that build those prisons.
Sign the petition and edit the letter below to urge Texas Department of Criminal Justice Director Brad Livingston to consider prison closings to save taxpayer dollars and protect public safety.
- Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice
The state of Texas is deep in red ink and, as you know, your department will be forced to make cuts in 2011. While it appears layoffs, pay freezes and other drastic measures will be on the table, Oliver Bell recently said the department is not considering closing prisons. I believe that’s a mistake.
As you know, Texas has made great strides in recent years to divert non-violent individuals to treatment and education programs and to offer innovative parole solutions and alternatives to incarceration that avoid prison population growth.The logical next step is to close prisons to avoid wasteful spending.
As Texas has weathered the most difficult budget crisis in recent memory, your department has failed to fully examine the prison closings that could save millions of dollars. When you keep 112 prisons open and lay off corrections professions, you are putting the safety of officers and prisoners at risk. Rather than cutting prison staff or services, you should seriously examine closing several prisons and consolidating operations. It’s the right move for public safety and for public funds. Other states have closed prisons as their populations declined, and their experiences could provide a roadmap for TDCJ in 2011.
The Texas Youth Commission also recently completed a methodical study of its facilities in order to determine which, if any, can be closed (http://bit.ly/hJYOV2). TYC evaluated capacity, population, services, staff and physical plant condition to aid this decision. TDCJ could follow the same path toward a reasonable plan for minimal -- but needed -- prison closings.
Please reconsider your position on prison closings and make a decision based with taxpayers and public safety at heart.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this critical issue.
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