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State legislature to consider criminal justice reform

Texas residents who believe that sometimes the current criminal justice system does not always feel so just are not alone. A survey conducted on behalf of the Texas Smart-on-Crime Coalition shows strong support for some changes. Interestingly, many of the changes evaluated in the survey are actually being considered by the state legislature currently.

When it comes to people accused of drug crimes, 92 percent of those polled said they don't believe the current laws or penalties are making the right type of difference. In total 87 percent are said to be in favor of alternatives to jail or prison for people found guilty of drug-related offenses that did not include any violent and are considered low-level. Alternatives may include community service or treatment progams.

Currently, Texas is one of only six states that prosecutes 17-year-olds as adults. In the survey, 78 percent of people said they would prefer having these youth prosecuted as juveniles. A measure is being reviewed with this in mind. Judges would still be given the latitude to pursue these defendants as adults based upon the circumstances of each case. The survey also showed that many would be in favor of making some drug possession charges misdemeanors instead of felonies.

People who are accused of drug charges of any age in Texas might find it helpful to talk with an attorney to learn what penalties they may face and how they might approach a criminal defense.

Source: The Baptist Standard, "Most Texas voters support criminal justice reform," Ken Camp, April 20, 2017

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