The Criminal Justice System in Texas
The American justice structure is complicated, with state courts, local courts, federal courts, judges, and jails. For reduction of incarceration rates, this complex network must be decrypted. If you are a regular American citizen, you have probably had to deal with the courts (Eisen, 2021). The vast majority of inmates in the United States are housed in state prisons. That is why judicial reform is so critical through both prosecution and advocacy. Criminal justice reform attempts to reduce the number of inmates in the system. To avoid deterioration, the country should fight for reform at all levels of the judicial system in the situation.
Why Criminal Justice Reforms in Texas
When combating crime, the state relies too heavily on incarceration. For the reasons listed below, the judicial system necessitates change:
Overcrowding in prisons
The issue is that Texas prisons were not designed to house this many inmates, let alone allow for adequate taxpayer funding. The federal government cannot pay for the overcrowding in prisons. The vast majority of those behind bars have committed no violent crimes. There are several reasons for prison overcrowding, including excessive incarceration due to drug charges that are not warranted.
Minimum sentencing laws
The federal prison population has increased dramatically due to federally mandated baseline imprisonment laws, particularly those involving drugs. Large amounts of drugs are punishable by life in prison or nearly 40 years under federal drug laws, which have the longest possible sentences of any criminal offense (Gottschalk, 2021). Small quantities of drugs can land an individual in prison for years. The real problem is that lower-class offenders are disproportionately targeted for drug sentences.
Distinct Criminal Justice Reforms
Future reforms are dependent more heavily on data and research-based tools to accurately predict if a person will skip court appearances after being released or contribute another criminal act while on the loose. Various factors are considered when determining a person’s risk level, such as their current age, previous abduction history, and any previous criminal convictions.
State jail reform
Since the 1990s, a broader range of crimes, including non-addiction-related ones, have been included in the ranking of state incarceration felonies. Most reformers agree that reformative interventions in state prisons should be enhanced, and the definition of a state recidivism crime should be reexamined.
The disappearance of the criminal trial
Plea bargaining replaced the jury trial as the primary method of criminological retribution in the United States, even when the state worked to expand detention facilities. Prosecutors have the authority to file charges, deal with witnesses, negotiate plea bargains, and, in many cases, set sentences or punishment ranges. Adam Foss is redefining the criminal prosecutor’s position by transitioning his perspective from detainment to the transformation of lives (Foss, 2016). They can now threaten defendants with more serious criminal charges, prison terms, or other severe punishments to retrieve plea deals and reduce the number of cases going to trial.
Interventions by Elected Leaders
To ensure that the reporting of officer-involved shootings is enforced, state lawmakers and advocates have introduced legislation calling for tighter controls on prisons and law enforcement agencies. Texas has not taken any significant steps to reduce the number of inmates or improve prison conditions since the famous “big bang” of justice reform laws in 2007. (Connely, 2019). Mass incarceration has a high financial and human cost; therefore, lawmakers should focus on legislative changes to compel states to relax harsh punishment laws that lock up far too many people for far too long for minor offenses.
Individual Roles to Play in Society
Collaboration with state agencies and authorities of justice administration. Working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the fight against harsh criminal laws is one of the many significant roles that an individual can play. There should be an emphasis on reforming the justice system and fighting for efficient and equitable criminal justice systems through the relevant prosecutors. Finally, urging legislators to work toward reforms that would reduce the number of people wrongfully imprisoned.
Connely, C. (2019). Five criminal justice issues Texas lawmakers are expected to consider. Kera News. Web.
Eisen, L. B. (2021). Criminal Justice Reform at the State Level. Brennan Center for Justice; www.brennancenter.org. Web.
Foss, A. (2016). A prosecutor’s vision for a better justice system. [Video] TED. Web.
Gottschalk, M. (2021). No Star State: What’s right and wrong about criminal justice reform in Texas. Seattle Journal for Social Justice, 19(3), 30. Web.