AUSTIN - Representative Gene Wu (Houston) has filed a number of measures aiming to get smart on crime and punishment. Wu's package includes proposals that protect children, offer a second chance to nonviolent offenders, increase penalties to deter crime, and promote more efficient law enforcement.
"When I served Harris County as a prosecutor, I saw firsthand the cracks in our justice system," Wu said. "These proposals are designed to protect our most vulnerable residents, reduce crime in our neighborhoods, and make common sense changes to modernize our criminal justice system."
House Bill 2218 would stop abused children from further injustice.
This bill would increase transparency and accountability for Child Protective Services by creating a neutral ombudsman to investigate complaints and violations. Providing independent oversight will protect abused children from enduring further injustice due to cover ups within the department.
House Bill 2221 would stop criminalizing our schoolchildren for misbehavior.
Schools are increasingly using criminal charges to deal with disruptive kids. Nonviolent behavior is now being handled in court, instead of at the principal's office. This bill would require school districts to report the number of criminal citations issued and arrests made on school property. Parents and community leaders should be able to see which schools are relying on the criminal justice system for disciplinary intervention, essentially ushering our kids toward incarceration.
House Bill 2227 modernizes the process for issuing warrants.
Currently, sworn statements for warrants have to be physically handed to a judge. This creates issues for law enforcement when the warrant is time sensitive or if the fax machine is simply out of paper. This bill would help modernize and accelerate the warrant process by allowing judges to accept a sworn statement by phone or email.
House Bill 2230 offers nonviolent offenders a second chance.
Imagine if the stick of gum you stole when you were 17 prevented you from getting a job or going to college. Many people plead guilty on Class C misdemeanor violations without fully understanding how it will affect them in the future. This bill would give people a second chance to properly deal with these petty violations allowing them to reach their full potential.
House Bill 2405 promotes smarter enforcement.
Current law allows law enforcement to issue citations instead of arresting offenders for select non-violent misdemeanors. However, while this law has helped some counties save significant amounts of resources in jail costs and lost time, few other agencies even know about it. This bill would encourage counties and agencies to carefully review their policies in order to make the best use of their manpower and the taxpayer's money.
Wu's criminal justice package also includes a number of other proposals that clean up existing language and close loopholes.
"I want our laws to have a positive effect on our community," continued Wu. "My legislation takes a common sense approach to how our criminal justice laws can be smarter about preventing crime in our neighborhoods and promoting efficiency for our law enforcement."
BETH MARTIN / 512-463-0492
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