Giving Kids Adult Records: Cohen and Fowler in the Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Morning News published a piece by Right on Crime policy analyst Derek Cohen and Deborah Fowler, deputy director for Texas Appleseed. They write that, despite large criminal justice reform waves sweeping across Texas, there is still one area where government over reach and inefficiency is apparent. Truancy, previously a minor misbehavior dealt with by parents and teachers, is today a crime that can earn a child an adult record. This process hurts the child, damages families, and has stunts economic growth. Handing out criminal records for behavior like truancy lowers the likelihood of the child getting a job and raises the likelihood of future welfare support.

Texas is one of only two states (the other is Wyoming) that employ the criminal justice system to punish truancy. The Texas Education Code — the body of law that regulates the activity of all educational institutions in the state — empowers school districts to file a criminal complaint against a child as young as 10 who has missed three days of school. After 10 missed days within a six-month period, however, the district’s discretion is removed and it is required to file against the child.

This is known as “Failure to Attend School,” or FTAS, a Class C misdemeanor that can carry up to $500 in fines and leave an indelible mark on the child’s criminal record. These fines are levied all too often on low-income families who don’t have the savings to pay them. If a child or parent is unable to pay the $500, or if the child misses one more day after adjudication, he or she can face jail time for the violation of a valid court order. In addition to the burden this places on families, the criminalization of truancy is a drain on limited court resources.

In addition, NBC News affiliate KXAN-Austin interviewed Cohen on the issue of truancy in Texas schools. Watch the clip below.

 

 

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Dallas Plans to Take Advantage of the 2007 Cite and Summons Law

dallas_co_jailNext year, the Dallas Police Department and county officials will make another attempt at reducing the amount of time an officer will spend on nonviolent misdemeanor suspects by taking advantage of the 2007 cite-and-summons law. The law was written by former Rep. and Right on Crime Fellow, Jerry Madden, and passed with bipartisan support and backing from both conservative and liberal criminal justice advocates.

Successful roll-out in Dallas — and a similar new program in Houston — would give criminal justice reformers across the political spectrum added momentum for next year’s lawmaking session. Priority goals for the left-right Texas Smart on Crime Coalition include further refinement of Texas’ drug laws, with emphasis on keeping the repercussions minor for minor offenses.

Continue reading at The Dallas Morning News

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Rick Perry: The Success of Texas’ Criminal Justice Reforms

In a speech at the annual RedState Gathering in Fort Worth, Gov. Rick Perry mentioned the common-sense, conservative criminal justice reforms that have done so much to lower crime in his state. The governor acknowledged the efforts of former Former Texas House Corrections Chairman Jerry Madden in promoting the key prison and sentencing reforms that would come to form Right on Crime’s policy agenda.

At the same conference, Madden– now a senior fellow at the Right on Crime campaign– spoke with ROC senior policy analyst Vikrant Reddy about the need for principled, conservative reform in the states.

While Texas still has the nation’s fourth highest adult incarceration rate, an increased emphasis on policies that are both tough and smart has enabled the state to turn the tide and reduce crime while controlling costs to taxpayers. (Find out more about the Texas success story on crime here.)

 

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Marc Levin appears on YNN’s Capital Tonight

ROC policy director Marc Levin discusses ways we can reduce prison population with YNN’s Capital Tonight.

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Grits for Breakfast: “Right on Crime seeks world domination”

Grits for Breakfast summarizes the accomplishments of the ROC Leadership Summit: “Did you do as much last month as the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation and its Right on Crime campaign to combat overcriminalization and mass incarceration?”

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