Most Texans Favor Alternatives to Prison for Non-Violent Offenders
More than 70 percent of Texans randomly surveyed statewide favor use of prison alternatives such as electronic monitoring, work restitution, and drug treatment for non-violent offenders (Christy Hoppe, "Poll Finds Support for Prison Alternatives: Panel Expected to Urge New Felony Category, Shorter Sentences, End of Parole," The Dallas Morning News (Austin Bureau), 12/16/92, 27A).
The poll by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs found that given three options, 9 percent favored raising taxes to build more jails, 16 percent favored cutting state services to build more jails, and 71 percent favored increased use of intermediate sanctions.
Based on the findings, the Texas Punishment Standards Commission, a state task force, was expected to recommend a new felony category that would not trigger a prison term and the elimination of parole for the prison bound in return for shorter sentences. Sen. Ted Lyon, cochairman of the commission, said time served for violent offenders would be doubled under the proposal. Shortening sentences may be difficult for some to accept, said Reynolds. "But we're going to focus our attention on the people that we're afraid of in society, not just those we're angry at."
The number of inmates in Texas prisons has soared from about 30,000 in 1983 to more than 90,000 projected by 1995.