A recent Texas Observer Article noted various developments to look for in the world of criminal justice throughout the year 2020. Although the Texas legislature accomplished a few criminal justice reforms in the last legislative session, the hope is that more improvements will occur this year.
Prosecutors in large counties have increasingly taken more progressive stances when it comes to criminal activity and mass incarceration. For instance, some prosecutors have declined to prosecute low-level marijuana crimes. Other prosecutors have established diversion programs for misdemeanor marijuana charges and other minor offenses. However, many prosecutor races in large Texas counties are at stake this year, which could further impact this area of criminal justice reform.
The settlement of a significant lawsuit over bail practices in some counties in the state could fundamentally reform the much-criticized practice of incarceration indigent defendants because they cannot afford bail, even on minor offenses. Additional lawsuits are now pending that are aimed at changing felony bail policies in some counties, as well.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), which operates the State’s prisons, has come under fire recently for lack of air conditioning, which has resulted in several deaths over the years. After a lengthy lawsuit, TDCJ settled the suit with an agreement to provide air conditioning to inmates with medical problems, which increasingly populate Texas prisons. Unfortunately, advocates of prison reform have charged TDCJ officials with breaking their agreement in repeated cases, as well as raising other concerns about excessive use of force in prison and increasing suicide rates. In response, advocates of reform are pushing the legislature to create an independent body to oversee TDCJ and reduce the incidence of some of these problems.
Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to assisting individuals in resolving their criminal charges. We know that criminal proceedings can be intimidating and overwhelming for those who are facing potential penalties for criminal charges. We will work with you to achieve the most favorable outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled criminal defense attorneys today.