Welcome to Constable Precinct 5. Today is

HOME CONTACT INFO OUR SERVICES FEES ABOUT US POLICIES CONSTABLE HISTORY FORMS CONNECTIONS DEPUTY CENTRAL
EXPERTS IN CIVIL PROCESS CLASS C WARRANTS DISABLED PARKING VOLUNTEER PROGRAM CONSTABLE'S NOTEBOOK PHOTO GALLERY CN5 IN THE NEWS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES
Constable Carlos Lopez and his deputies assist the citizens and courts of Travis County

Carlos B. Lopez, Constable

Travis County Courthouse Complex


24/7 Civil Process Service Check

Enter to Search by Cause No. or Name

Cause:

Name: 

Helpful tips for finding the correct listing
Bruce Elfant

Bruce Elfant

Notebook Archives



Constable's Notebook - February 2009

I remember when a candidate for governor slammed a jail door shut to emphasize his position that Texas needed to get tough on crime. In 1984, when Mark White pledged to increase sentences and build more prisons, the Texas penal system housed about 39,000 inmates at a cost just under $800 million per year. The crime rate was 6,030 crimes per 100,000 residents. Today the crime rate, led by a significant drop in the murder rate, has dropped to about 4,631 crimes per 100,000 people but Texas prisons now house about four times the number of inmates at a cost of nearly $3 billion per year. Increasing penalties for drug offenses, “Three strikes and you are out” statutes, and increased minimum sentences are significant factors that contributed to the sharply increased incarceration rates during a period of reduced crime.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics about half of the inmate population in state prisons is comprised of violent offenders, 20% property, 20% substance abuse and 8% minor public order crimes. Sixty percent of inmates have not completed a high school education. Nearly 20% suffer from mental illness and it is estimated that upwards of 40% are infected with Hepatis C. The elderly inmate population that has increased by more than 33% over the last decade represents the fastest growing segment of the inmate population. It is estimated that 2/3 of released inmates will be re-arrested within three years of their release. That comes as no surprise given the number of inmates with substance abuse issues who receive no treatment in prison, the difficulties of finding employment without a high school education and with a criminal record, the societal challenges of mentally ill inmates, and those who actually become more hardened criminals while in prison.

Last session lawmakers began to ask whether the “get tough on crime” policy that had been in place for decades was the smartest approach to reducing the crime rate and the associated costs of the criminal justice system. Are sentences appropriate? Is incarceration the best approach for all offenders? Does it make sense to continue to incarcerate inmates who are in their 70s, 80s and even 90s and incur the health care costs that are double the costs for younger inmates? Is enough being done to reduce the recidivism rate? Why is it that Texas runs one of the world’s largest prison systems but continues to experience one of the world’s highest crime rates?

Travis County officials have long believed that finding alternatives to incarceration for certain non-violent offenders, making drug treatment and GED programs more available, treating rather than simply housing offenders with mental illnesses, and preparing the 99% of inmates who will ultimately re-enter society are far more effective strategies to reduce crime rates than the simply “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” mentality that has long been state policy. It has been said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Almost every other nation and most states locks up fewer offenders, enjoys lower crime rates and pay less for their criminal justice systems than Texans do. Our state leaders should work this session to achieve a different result to make Texas a safer place to live.



Video Icon

Watch a video How Travis County Constables help in our communities

Video Icon

Watch a video Constable 5 Wins Award for Domestic Violence Initiative

Learn more Stop teen dating violence