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3-year study shows county spends $8.2 million on criminals that reoffend

A study commissioned by the county reveals a need to reform our local criminal justice system.

The study shows when individuals cycle in and out of jail, it is costing millions in local taxpayer funds.

The three-year study focuses on recidivism, the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend.

The study also recommends making more efficient use of state and local taxpayer dollars.

“It’s more than a study. It’s an engagement with the local policy makers to help them understand what areas to improve in the system,” said Dr. Tony Fabelo.

Fabelo, a senior fellow for justice policy, conducted a three year study from 2013 to 2016.

He said the local criminal justice system needs some modernization — specifically the transfer of information.

“It allows the ability to make better decisions because you have better information. Particularly for the judge to have a good comfort level that they have good information to make better decisions,” Fabelo said.

But the focus of the study was recidivism.

The study revealed defendants who remain in jail longer have higher recidivism rates.

Individuals released on personal bonds remain jailed 10 times longer than those released on commercial bond with an average of four days.

“If you reduce recidivism you’re improving public safety,” Fabelo said.

The study also found how recidivism affects taxpayer dollars.

From 2013 to 2016, the county and state released nearly 19,000 individuals. Out of those, a little more than 6,700 were rearrested, costing the county $8.2 million.

Another factor that played a role in recidivism was economic status.

“The federal courts in the area of free trial are looking to make sure that people that are poor are not locked up in jail just because they are poor,” Fabelo said.

Fabelo said programs assisting those released from prison or jail provide better outcomes than longer stints in jail or prison.

“If you can get them out, make sure they keep their job, make sure they don’t get a long criminal record, make sure they get whatever services they might need to put them in a path … that is good for them,” Fabelo said.

According to Fabelo, Hispanics in counties across Texas, have the lowest recidivism rates in the state.

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