For decades, Texas focused on building more prisons in the name of public safety, tripling the size of the system in the 1990s alone. But in recent years, the state has found that greatly expanded treatment and rehabilitation programs can reduce the number of people in prison — and save money.If Texas - TEXAS! - can close prisons in favor of re-entry and rehab programs, then smaller, sissy states should have all the cover they need to try the same.
"One in every 22 Texans are in the criminal justice system — on probation, on parole, in prison," said state Rep. Jim McReynolds, who chairs the House Corrections Committee. "Because we invested in treatment and re-entry and rehabilitation programs starting several years ago, Texas is in a position to have those drive the discussion for the first time that I can remember, instead of just incarceration or building new prisons. That's a big change from the past."
Whereas the average cost of keeping one felon in prison is about $47 a day, the cost of alternatives is much less, according to state statistics. Probation costs an average of $1.24 a day; parole supervision is $3.74. Various community-supervision programs range from $5.56 to $47 or more, depending on the type of program and whether secure housing is provided.