AUSTIN - Representative Gene Wu (Houston) has filed a number of bills aimed at modernizing our judicial system. Wu's package includes proposals that protect children, offer a second chance to nonviolent offenders, and promote more efficient law enforcement.
"From my time serving as a Harris County prosecutor as well as in my current practice, I have seen improvements that can be made to make our judicial system work more efficiently for everyone," Wu said. "These proposals are designed to make common sense changes to modernize our criminal justice system and save taxpayer dollars by promoting greater efficiency."
House Bill 325 lowers the penalty ladder for possession of marijuana.
Texas has one of the highest rates in the nation in terms of people arrested for marijuana possession, and some of the harshest penalties. Our criminal justice system should prioritize resources to lock up serious drug offenders and violent felons. This bill would allow law enforcement to charge people caught with small amounts of marijuana with a Class C Misdemeanor.
House Bill 326 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 327 and 329 help move nonviolent offenders beyond a mistake for a second chance.
Many people plead guilty on Class C misdemeanor violations without fully understanding how it will affect them in the future. Even the lowest level criminal convictions adversely impact a person’s life. House Bill 327 would look at how criminal records for low-level offenders are handled across the state. House Bill 329 would give people a second chance to properly deal with petty violations, allowing them to reach their full potential.
House Bill 330 closes a loophole by redefining Texas' definition of Juvenile.
Our criminal justice system currently sends 17 year olds to adult jails. Raising the age of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction to include 17 year olds reduces crime, saves money, and offers the best chance for restitution. This bill would increase efficiency of our judicial system by keeping 17 year old offenders in the juvenile system.
House Bill 331 safeguards sensitive information involving children in CPS cases.
Children need to be protected when they come in contact with our court system. Child protection suits can contain extremely delicate material that should be kept confidential. This bill would ensure that electronic filing of CPS cases remain sealed and not available to the public.
Wu's criminal justice package also includes a number of other proposals that clean up existing language and close loopholes. House Bill 326 and 329 were filed last session, but after positive committee response, they did not pass due to session deadlines.
"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."
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