Justice & Safety

Improving Lives & Communities While Reducing Social Costs

Overview

Over recent decades, Texas’ economy and quality of life have thrived. However, we must confront the fact that not all of us enjoy the same chances for prosperity as others. Despite our economic growth, not all Texans have access to key factors that influence lifelong productivity: growing up in supportive households, living in safe neighborhoods, and having secure access to food and housing.

The systems that support and keep vulnerable people safe – especially children – are most often found in communities governed at the local levels. Texas must use smart strategies to develop the right incentives across the justice and safety net to ensure all partners – state, local, and private – are working toward effective goals. Investing early in the right evidence-based programs can reduce social costs later, but requires increased collaboration, honest accountability, and investments that are worthy.

Facts

  • Millions of Texans lack basic necessities.

    25% of Texas children live below the poverty line ($25,750 for a family of four). Out of every 100 homes in Texas, 14 experience difficulty providing enough food. Over 100,000 students in Texas classrooms, or close to 2%, do not have a secure place to live.

  • One in four Texas children face traumatic events.

    Almost one in every four Texas children have experienced at least two instances of abuse, neglect, or trauma, with harsh consequences for their health, educational attainment, and criminal justice involvement.

  • Juveniles and low-level offenders cycle through the criminal justice system at high cost.

    74% of juveniles and 62% of lower level property and drug offenders released from state facilities are rearrested within 3 years. The state spends $3.3 billion each year running the largest prison system in the country.

  • Violent crime remains at historic lows.

    The violent crime rate in Texas peaked in the early 1990s and declined by almost half by 2017. It has increased over the last three years and remains above the national average.

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