Too many Texans imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses
n 2014 Texas had the lowest crime rate since 1968. And, at the same time, we closed three prisons and reformed our sentencing laws. Too many Texans were going to prison for nonviolent drug offenses. And, once they got out of prison, many of them found
they couldn't get a job because they had a criminal record. I'm pretty sure nobody in here gets confused that Texas is a soft on crime place. Texans believe in consequences for criminal behavior, but we also believe in second chances & human redemption.
Americans who suffer from an addiction need help. They don't need moral condemnation. By treating alcohol and drug abuse as a disease, we've given Texans who have experienced a run-in with the law the help that they need, the rehabilitation that many
seek. And now, many of those individuals are living in recovery. They're engaged in saving the lives of others who are trapped in addiction. You see, the human soul yearns to be free, free from the chains of addiction, free from the chains of poverty.
Treat addiction as a disease, not as criminal behavior
When Judge John Creuzot, a Democrat from Dallas, shared an idea that would change the way Texas handled first-time, nonviolent drug offenders, I listened. As the founder of one of the first drug courts in Texas, Judge Creuzot argued that incarceration
was not the best solution for many low-risk, nonviolent offenders. It benefits neither the individual nor society at large, and can even increase the odds that offenders will commit more crimes upon release. And, just as importantly, by treating
addiction as a disease--and not merely punishing the criminal behavior it compels--Texas could give new hope to people trying to get their lives back.
So. in 2007, with broad support from Republicans and Democrats alike,
Texas fundamentally changed its course on criminal justice. We focused on diverting people with drug addiction issues from entering prison in the first place, and programs to keep them from returning.
Indicted for defunding D.A. who got caught drunk-driving
Q: You have been indicted on two felony accounts, abuse of power. The grand jury indictment alleges this: "With the intent to harm another, intentionally or knowingly misused government property, and by means of coercion" influenced a County District
Attorney. How do you respond?
PERRY: The D.A., the highest ranking prosecutor in Travis County--this individual was stopped driving while drunk. She had almost three times the legal limit of alcohol. When you look at the video when she was being
booked into the county jail, she was kicking on the door. She was abusing the law officials. She had to be restrained. You have to make a decision on whether or not $7.5 million of Texas taxpayer money is going to go to the unit that she oversees;
I very publicly said as long as that individual is going to be running that agency, I had lost confidence in her. The public had lost confidence in her, so I made a decision on the proper use of state money to go to that agency, and I vetoed it.
Gov. Rick Perry said that U.S. officials should "stop calling these criminals nice names like cartels and gangs" and start calling them "what they really are: these are narcoterrorists." Perry announced last month that he was activating up to 1,000
National Guard troops to send to the border to assist the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in fighting drug cartels.
Perry said, "As the Border Patrol is spread even thinner and thinner with this high influx of the illegal aliens, the gaps in
the border have become bigger and you now are the tip of the spear protecting Americans from these cartels and gangs. They are spreading their tentacles of crime and fear, so your message and your mission is very clear: To be that visible presence, to
deter the criminal activity, contribute those additional eyes and ears to assist law enforcement and Border Patrol agents along the border." Perry said more than 2,000 soldiers had volunteered for the assignment even though he only requested 1,000.
Criminalize "doctor-shopping" to obtain prescription opiates
Excerpts from Sponsor's Statement of Intent: The abuse of prescription drugs is a serious public health issue and the increasing diversion of prescription drugs is a cause for concern. One of the causes of diversion is doctor shopping--
where a patient actively seeks doctors who will prescribe certain types of medications, usually opiates, depressants, and stimulants. Fifteen other states currently have legislation that specifically addresses the problem. S.B. 158 creates criminal
penalties for patients who visit multiple practitioners and do not disclose that they are already receiving controlled substances. In other words, a person commits an offense if they have intent to obtain controlled substances that are not medically
necessary for the person using misrepresentation or concealment.
Legislative outcome:House conference report adopted on May 29, 2011; signed by Gov. Perry on June 17, 2011.
We should continue our investment in border security because the threat of cross-border violence has only grown, as the drug wars escalate.
I don't raise the issue of border security as a criticism of our neighbors to the south, but to show our resolve and unity in the struggle, as they deal with a wave of violence unlike anything outside of the world's war zones.
Source: 2011 Texas State of the State Address
, Feb 8, 2011
Medical marijuana OK for California, but not Texas
[On states' rights], there's a movement I disagree with, while appreciating the desire of Californians to decide for themselves--this is the issue of marijuana consumption. A few years ago Californians legalized the limited medicinal use of marijuana,
but the Supreme Court struck this law down in Gonzalez v. Raich, claiming that the federal government has the power to regulate activity that would have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Now, I am not sure the people of
Texas would want to go down this road.
Keeping in mind that in 2008, less than 1% of the 847,000 marijuana-related arrests were carried out by federal law enforcement, it sure seems unlikely that there could be adequate resources at the federal level to
actually tell California how to live their lives. In other words, Californians may well be telling the federal government to "bring it on," we'll handle this how we want to handle it.
Drug trade causes soaring violence on southern border
President Obama is [doing] just enough to create the impression of some activity to address border security. He announced that he will send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border, as a temporary measure, until an additional
1,000 Border Patrol agents are on the job. This has generated headlines--and I suppose it is better than the alternative of no additional troops or officers--but it is really a drop in the bucket. Consider that of those 1,200 troops, only
286 were assigned to Texas. The southern border of the United States stretches 1,954 miles, and 1,255 of them are in Texas. We have 60 percent of the border, yet less than 25 percent of the resources were given to
Texas to deal with it. In the face of the soaring violence infesting our border communities as a result of the drug trade, this paltry effort is simply inviting more problems.
ACLU shouldn't protest random drug sweeps in public housing
The ACLU [protested] new community policies initiated by the law-abiding poor to protect their homes and families from youth gangs and drug traffickers. In 1997, the Chicago Public Housing Authority began conducting random sweeps in public housing
projects in search of drugs and guns. The sweeps were initiated by members of the community fed up with crime and were beginning to have a deterrent impact. Then the ACLU showed up. They filed suit, saying the sweeps violated the Fourth
Amendment concerning unreasonable search and seizure. The result of the suit was to turn the Housing Authority's policy into a joke because it was forced to provide advance notice to gang leaders and their
supporters before conducting a sweep, and tenants could forbid them from entering. Meanwhile, the rapes, the beatings, and the shootings go on, thanks to the ACLU and its crusade for the "rights" of criminal thugs.
The best plan to secure our border involves intensive operations with federal, state and local officials working together to seal off common illegal crossings.
We have caught drug traffickers and human smugglers off guard and reduced crime in remote
That is why I ask you to fund a $100 million effort that will expand patrols, purchase new technology and protect the border from drug traffickers, human smugglers and other criminal thugs that seek to destroy our way of life.
Source: Texas 2007 State of the State address
, Feb 6, 2007
States should make drug policy, not feds.
Perry signed the Western Governors' Association resolution:
Western Governors agree that states, not the federal government, are in the best position to understand the myriad of drug related issues facing their citizens and to initiate and implement drug policy strategies that will combat the substance abuse problems facing their communities.
Western Governors support effective law enforcement initiatives and behavioral accountability. Partnerships between enforcement and treatment programs (or efforts) need to be strengthened and supported to enable behavioral changes.
Western Governors recognize the escalating costs of incarceration and welcome effective common sense options within the criminal justice system that result in lessened drug abuse, healthier communities, and decreased criminal activity.
Western Governors appreciate the unique problems confronting our communities from increased production, distribution and abuse of methamphetamines. The Governors will continue to attack this problem aggressively on several fronts, including enforcement of current criminal laws and expansion of treatment and intervention programs.
Western Governors support sentencing laws that retain individual accountability for criminal conduct while administering proportional punishments that are fair and just.
Western Governors support efforts to staunch the proliferation of illegal intravenous drug use. Common sense strategies aimed at protecting communities against discarded and potentially contaminated injection drug paraphernalia should be explored. Furthermore, the Governors encourage reform initiatives that will help and encourage injection drug users to obtain information, treatment, detoxification and social services.
Source: WGA Policy Resolution 01 - 05: Drug Policy Summit 01-WGA05 on Aug 14, 2001
Click here for definitions & background information on Drugs.