FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/01/2017
Response to the State of the Judiciary Address
State Representative Shawn Thierry House District 146
In the House chamber this morning, the Honorable Nathan Hecht, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, delivered the State of the Judiciary address to the 85th Legislature, which outlined many of the legal issues that courts are facing today. Following Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht's address, Representative Thierry issued the following remarks:
"I was very pleased to hear Chief Justice Hecht address bail reform. Our current system allows for exorbitant bail to be set for low-level offenses, and is also wrought with repeated fees and excessive legal penalties. This forces people to remain in jail for prolonged periods of time simply because they are poor. Unfortunately, we have created a system where the duration of imprisonment is often decided by the size of your wallet. Chief Justice Hecht acknowledged that our current jail system is commonly known as 'debtor's prison.' In most instances, defendants are deprived of their fundamental constitutional rights due to needless incarceration."
"Our jails should not be the primary option for those needing mental health treatment. Chief Justice Hecht revealed that a person with untreated mental illness is actually eight times more likely to be incarcerated. As legislators, we must address the need for increased mental health care funding in order to relieve our criminal justice system and serve the best interests of our society. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues who wish to tackle this bipartisan issue head on. Additionally, I am proposing legislation that will require behavioral health facilities to report and update information on the availability of psychiatric beds daily. This central database will eliminate the current bottleneck of bed availability by allowing more people to be admitted and get the help they need."
"We can all agree that the Texas foster care system is in crisis. I was encouraged to hear from Chief Justice Hecht that the Texas Supreme Court created a Children's Commission dedicated to preventing child fatalities, the overuse of psychotropic medications, and putting an end to human trafficking. Results have shown that educational, behavioral, and CPS safety outcomes have greatly improved based on the efforts of the commission. Today, Chief Justice Hecht charged the Texas Legislature to support the Children's Commission with continued funding. We must improve the lives of the thousands of vulnerable, innocent children who are stuck in our foster care system and I am proud to say that the Children's Commission can count on my support."
"With the growing senior population in Texas, the need for responsible management of elderly affairs is undoubtedly a necessity. According to Chief Justice Hecht, 10,000 cases were reviewed by the Office of Court Administration Guardianship's compliance project, and nearly half of the guardians did not comply with reporting procedures to the court. The Chief Justice recommended that the Guardianship Compliance Project be extended statewide in order for guardians to be held more accountable and to ensure better quality of life for the elderly. I am relieved that the Supreme Court sees this issue as a top priority, just as I do. The lack of responsible protections for our elderly is inexcusable and needs to be taken more seriously by all. I have already tackled this issue this session by authoring House Bill 959, which aims to protect our elderly Texans from financial abuse and exploitation. It is my hope that this bipartisan bill with have solid support in the legislature."
Representative Thierry's Summation
"I welcomed and appreciated Chief Justice Hecht's insightful remarks today. As a licensed attorney, I know first-hand that the wheels of justice may turn slowly, but as lawmakers, we must press forward swiftly. I will continue fighting for those whose voices go unheard. Given the many challenges identified in today's State of the Judiciary, it is imperative that my colleagues and I join together to pass meaningful legislation so that our justice system operates efficiently and equitably. I will work vigorously this session on behalf of the constituents of House District 146, and people across this state to ensure that justice is accessible to all."
Contact: David Glenn