There are many individuals and organizations in this world that champion reform of the Texas criminal justice system. This often includes criminal defense advocates such as attorneys, innocence project groups and legislators. Perhaps one surprise on this list is the Texas Association of Business, which recently commented publicly on its substantial interest in the movement for change as well.

Many readers of our blog might wonder what kind of stake the business association has in criminal justice reform and to what end. There are three specific reasons why the business community has entered into this debate.

First, the business community contributes more to the Texas tax system than individuals. The state of Texas spends upwards of $3 billion per year on incarcerating individuals, which is more than any other states. And approximately 45 percent of those incarcerated people are in prison for nonviolent and nonsexual offenses.

Second, business owners are also residents of Texas and therefore care about public safety in the state. Finally, there is a direct relation between the state’s incarceration rate and the number of available workers in the state. More probation and less incarceration is a likely change of the organization. Promoting punishment but continued participation in society seems to be a reasonable solution for nonviolent offenders.

In the meantime, defendants facing criminal charges in Texas need to understand what exactly their rights and options are in the current system, and how best to defend themselves and protect their freedom. With the help of an experienced attorney, many defendants may be able to seek a reduction or even an outright dismissal of their charges in certain situations.

Source: Dallas News, “Why Texas businesses back reforming the state’s criminal justice system,” Bill Hammond, January 19, 2014