The State of Texas has been talking big change in these recent weeks. Previous blog posts have noted that a number of local legislators, business owners and community members have been pushing toward criminal defense reform. Specifically, there is a movement to reconfigure the criminal justice system so as to reduce sentencing applied to lessor, non-violent crimes. Recently, Governor Rick Perry hopped on the train toward reform.
Governor Perry announced at a recent World Economic Forum in Switzerland that he supports the decriminalization of marijuana. Part of Perry's plan toward decriminalization includes placing focus on alternative methods of sentencing outside of the traditional consequence of jail time.
Alternatives include placing more focus on drug courts and probation. The announcement may be good news for Texas residents for a variety of reasons. On top of taking harsh focus away from what some may consider non serious crimes, the change might save the State millions of dollars.
Specifically, jail time costs Texas tax payers millions of dollars a year, often taking away from arguably more serious crimes. At the current time, marijuana arrests in Texas are particularly high as compared to the rest of the country. Further, according to the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, an arrest costs taxpayers $120 and an extra $62.97 per day for each person imprisoned.
Still, until new laws are passed, being accused of a drug charge does carry serious consequences here in Texas. If one does face a drug charge, it is imperative to bring forth a proper criminal defense in order to avoid a harsh sentence later on.
Source: The Daily Texan, "High time for Texas to decriminalize Marijuana," Jan. 30, 2014