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Texas Public Policy Foundation Report Shows Wide Support for Prison Alternatives

According to 1200 News Radio, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, has found that 79 percent of Texans support alternatives to incarceration for drug offenders. 

TPPF President Chuck DeVore stated that current Texas laws encourage incarceration rather than the use of effective alternatives: 

If a local judge sends an offender to the state prison system, that offender accrues no cost to your county system, that offender becomes a state cost and state responsibility. But if the judge sends the offenders to rehabilitation, the local county has to pay for that, and that's unpopular among county leaders

The TPPF study also indicates that the rate at which Texas is incarcerating people is proving to be unsustainable as the state's population grows. DeVore claims that alternatives to detention can only be implemented if people know that crime rates are actually decreasing. Seventy five percent of those who responded to the survey think that the crime rate is holding steady or increasing, but FBI statistics indicate otherwise. 

According to the study, the expansion of alternatives to incarceration could save Texas $2 billion in prison costs. 

These developments, while laudable, bear further scrutiny. According to the Texas Observer, the TPPF has received $15,000 in donations from the GEO Group, a private prison corporation. GEO is also invested in alternatives to detention, primarily electronic monitoring devices that "monitor offenders as they live and work in the community" (GEO).