While I'm talking about what is going on down in Austin, let me just add my voice to those like Grits
, mentioned below, calling for more drug treatment instead of prison time. As a public defender in felony courts, I represent 300-400 new men and women each year charged with felony offenses. I haven't done a scientific study, but I would estimate that at least 75% of the cases I handle are drug-related in some way. Either it's a possession case, the person was stealing or robbing to get money for drugs, or they were actually high when they committed the offense. Many of these people have been to county jail, state jail, and the penitentiary before. Meanwhile, those who get the opportunity to go to long-term inpatient treatment wait for months in the county jail for a bed to open up at the treatment facility. We can build all the prisons we want, but until we institute a comprehensive drug treatment program, we will never make a seirous dent in the crime problem.