Merging two agencies could save taxpayers millions while also improving rehabilitation rates for juvenile offenders. State Rep. Jerry Madden (R-Plano) is proposing legislation that would merge the Texas Youth Commission and Texas Juvenile Probation Commission; it’s a move the Texas Public Policy Foundation reports could result in $150 million in savings.

In a hearing scheduled for today, the House Corrections Committee – which Mr. Madden chairs – will take up House Bill 1915.

Mr. Madden’s consolidation legislation would result in closing far-flung facilities, notably those that are merely ineffective or too costly. This push would continue justice reforms adopted in 2007, which rely more on local, community-based corrections and treatment options. These options have been hailed by conservatives as making streets safer, costing less while improving outcomes.

But there will be pushback. A good bit will likely come from legislators who have TYC facilities subject to closure in their districts. Rather than attack the proposal dead-on, I suspect they will instead use a tried-and-true diversionary tactic and say the proposal is soft on crime.

TPPF and others have demonstrated that is a red-herring.

For example, TPPF resercher Marc Levin notes that Harris County produces the largest number of juvenile offenders into the TYC system, yet the nearest TYC facility is in Beaumont. Not exactly a model of efficiency, but generally what one might expect out of government!

In a legislative session where cost-savings are king, legislators and taxpayers would do well to follow Mr. Madden’s legislation. Especially because it also has the advantage of being correct public policy.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Michael Quinn Sullivan and his wife have three children. He is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. Check out his podcast, “Reflections on Life and Liberty.”

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