Sending people to prison is expensive. It costs $61.63 per day to keep a person in prison in Texas and $3.42 per day to supervise them on probation. By now, it has become clear that sending people to prison because of addiction or mental illness is not the best approach. Studies have shown that “sending substance abusers to community-based treatment programs [instead of prison] could reduce crime rates and save billions of dollars.” Everything that the District Attorney’s Office does should be focused on making our community a better and safer place for everyone.
For most non-violent offenders this means establishing policies, procedures, and an office culture centered on the goal of treating and rehabilitating those suffering from addiction and mental illness. Such an approach gives us the best chance at long-term success. Joe will pursue policies that improve the use of specialty courts, treatment programs, and a rehabilitative model to improve outcomes for these offenders.
It is also important to recognize the problems associated with branding addicts and the mentally ill as criminals and felons. When appropriate, Joe will use the tools that the Legislature has provided to prosecute low-level drug possession cases as misdemeanors (instead of felonies) and increase and improve the use of diversionary programs. As District Attorney, Joe will take a common sense approach that focuses on respect for taxpayer dollars, rehabilitating non-violent offenders and redistributing resources toward more effective prosecution of violent crimes.