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Senate Committee on Criminal Justice - 83rd R.S. (2013)

Committee Members
John Whitmire, Chair
Joan Huffman, Vice Chair
John Carona
Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa
Dan Patrick
José Rodríguez
Charles Schwertner
Charges
• Review cases involving the imposition of probation rather than imprisonment or commitment for adult and juvenile intoxication manslaughter offenders. Make recommendations to ensure that intoxication manslaughter sentences include appropriate punishment levels, maintain public safety, and serve to deter driving under the influence.
• Study the operations of the Texas prison system with respect to the medical and mental health care treatment. Study potential cost savings associated with identifying offenders with dual diagnoses and routing these individuals into appropriate services before, during, and after involvement with the criminal justice system. Study the way in which geriatric parole cases are currently evaluated and identify opportunities for reducing costs associated with the geriatric inmate population without compromising public safety.
• Study and make recommendations related to jail diversion, reduced recidivism rates, and access to services for those within the system who suffer from a mental illness. Monitor the progress and implementation of the jail diversion pilot program for the mentally ill in Harris County and determine the best practices to be applied statewide.
• Compile an inventory of all the juvenile specialty courts in the state, the juvenile population served, and the courts' program guidelines and practices. Identify gaps in services, geographically, by issue area, and juvenile population. Study the efficacy of each court through an analysis of recidivism rates and cost effectiveness and make recommendations regarding the best practices of juvenile specialty courts.
• Study and make recommendations regarding sentencing of youth under 18 accused of committing serious crimes.
• Study the value ladder of charges for theft and related offenses within the Texas Penal Code and recommend any necessary updates and proposed legislative reforms.
• Evaluate the approximately 1,500 non-traditional criminal offenses that can be found outside of the Penal Code. Study the feasibility of streamlining these offenses and examine ambiguities in the law. Analyze whether and to what extent some of these non-traditional criminal offenses should be eliminated.

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