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Declines in TX recidivism led by parole success

Texas’ recidivism rates are declining, according to this publication from the Council of State Governments Justice Center. According to them, parole revocations are down 33 percent since 2007, re-incarceration rates are down 25 percent, and rearrest rates are down 6 percent.

Reduced parole revocations are clearly the biggest success (and account for a big chunk of the decline in re-incarceration, as well). The document attributes those reductions to Texas’ landmark legislation in 2007 which “Enhanced the use of parole for people at a low risk of reoffending and expanded the capacity of treatment and diversion programs,” and “Expanded the capacity of substance use treatment programs and the use of intermediate sanction facilities to divert people from prison.”

By contrast, probation revocations remained high. That same 2007 legislation included grants which were supposed to “Incentiviz[e] counties to create progressive sanctioning models for effective responses on probation.” Some supposedly did, but unlike on the parole side, it didn’t result in reduced revocations. Grits believes that’s in part because the grants weren’t structured to reduce if the desired outcomes weren’t achieved. They just became part of probation departments’ baseline funding, not an “incentive” to change behavior.

If Texas could figure out how to reduce probation revocations to the same extent we have for parole, we could close quite a few more prisons and save taxpayers a small fortune.

RELATED: See Texas’ official recidivism data from the Legislative Budget Board.