State of Texas Archives: on Crime


MJ Hegar: We have a mass incarceration problem

On crime: "I think that we have a mass incarceration problem, not just in marijuana but in the world," she said. "I mean, we are one of the top incarcerated countries in the world and that's not something that I'm very proud of, I don't know about you."

She went on to criticize private prisons and said incumbent Cornyn has taken money from that industry and legislated "in their benefit." The senator "makes sure that they're at max capacity, which is max profit," she said.

Source: The Marijuana Moment on 2020 Texas Senate race Jun 8, 2020

MJ Hegar: Police brutality is not just "a few poisoned apples"

Asked about police racism, Hegar said that the "obvious answer is criminal justice reform," and she supports policies such as "police being more representative of the communities that they're policing." Hegar said that in respect to police brutality, there are not "a few poisoned apples," but "a plague of locusts that have come through the orchard." She said that she does not support the riots or looting, but thinks the "militarization" of law enforcement "sends the wrong message."
Source: The Texan on 2020 Texas Senate race Jun 8, 2020

Sema Hernandez: End the militarization of law enforcement

We must end militarization of law enforcement and the programs which equip and promote it. I will introduce criminal justice reform legislation to fund and require de-escalation training. The bill will require an end to cash bail as a denial of due process, outlaw privatized prisons, and end the privatization of law enforcement services. It also will provide for funding and maintaining meaningful education, rehabilitation, and job training in prisons.
Source: 2020 Texas Senate campaign website, Sema4Texas.com Jan 12, 2020

Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez: Abolish mandatory minimums & private for-profit prisons

Cristina recognizes that our current criminal legal system unfairly targets the low-income, and black and brown communities, not only because of misguided policies like the Drug War, but also because of corporations that profit off of imprisonment. She would also advocate for abolishing private prisons and mandatory minimums, ensuring that our government invests in schools rather than prisons. Lastly, she would support federal abolition of the death penalty.
Source: 2020 Texas Senate campaign website CristinaForTexas.com Dec 19, 2019

Royce West: Total reform needed at all levels of the judiciary

From the halls of our local police departments, to the court rooms, and overcrowded prisons, total reform is needed at all levels of the judiciary. We must pass federal legislation to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, end private for-profit prisons, promote rehabilitation centers, and put support systems in place for former inmates who are shut out of opportunities.
Source: 2020 Texas Senate campaign website RoyceWest.com Dec 19, 2019

Royce West: Reexamine the use of deadly force by police

We must hold our police departments accountable for misconduct and excessive force; and bring in independent investigators to reexamine the use of deadly force and foster an environment that prioritizes de-escalation tactics. I have a long record of fighting for criminal justice reform and putting measures in place to hold law enforcement accountable. In the Texas State Senate, I authored groundbreaking legislation for body cameras and dashboard cameras in police vehicles.
Source: 2020 Texas Senate campaign website RoyceWest.com Dec 19, 2019

Royce West: Now for reform, in 1995 for 14- year-olds tried as adults

West has positioned himself as a top advocate for reforming a criminal justice system that disadvantages people of color. He's been a leader on increasing the use of body cameras by police officers and combating racial profiling. But in 1995, West co-sponsored a juvenile justice package that aimed to toughen penalties for youthful offenders. The bill, which he called "tough love" at the time, lowered the age from 15 to 14 at which serious offenders could be prosecuted as adults.
Source: The Dallas Morning News on 2020 Texas Senate race Jul 28, 2019

Beto O`Rourke: 1995 burglary arrest: charges dropped by U. Texas

According to a heavily redacted narrative of O'Rourke's May 1995 burglary arrest by the University of Texas at El Paso Police Department, O'Rourke and two associates allegedly broke into the yard of the facilities management building at the school, triggering an alarm. One of the officers who responded to the scene said he saw "three subjects in the middle of the compound running in three different directions."

"I immediately yelled at them to freeze and also gave foot pursuit," the report says. "I observed two subjects run toward the main doors of the control center and lost sight of them when another subject was seen running behind parked vehicles westbound toward the green-house." The charges against all three were later dropped.

The El Paso district attorney then and now, Jaime Esparza, says he has no recollection of the burglary case and his office could not locate any files on it.

Source: Texas Tribune on 2020 presidential hopefuls Apr 24, 2019

Greg Abbott: Crack down on human trafficking

We must also work together to crack down on human trafficking and to protect the victims of this heinous crime. I ask the legislature to increase funding to create six regional human trafficking squads. These squads will investigate and shut down human trafficking operations across Texas. And absolutely every trafficker should get mandatory jail time. These predators should be locked up, not freely roaming our streets looking for victims.
Source: 2019 State of the State address to the Texas legislature Feb 5, 2019

Lupe Valdez: End the era of mass incarceration, plus major reforms

We must end the era of mass incarceration, reform the cash bail system, decriminalize misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and ban for-profit prisons. These are major contributing factors to systemic oppression, racism, and classism. We must also work together with municipalities to strengthen the bonds of trust between police and communities and train our police forces to the highest standard, because better trained and accountable police forces means safer neighborhoods and safer cops.
Source: 2018 Texas Gubernatorial campaign website LupeValdez.com Oct 9, 2018

Greg Abbott: Raise bail when past criminals are re-arrested

Gov. Greg Abbott wants the Texas Legislature to pass a bail reform law next year. The Republican governor announced his proposed Damon Allen Act, named in honor of a 41-year-old highway patrol trooper who was gunned down last during a traffic stop. The suspect, 33-year-old Dabrett Black, was out of jail on a $15,500 bond at the time after allegedly assaulting a Smith County deputy. Abbott said, "Texas must ensure that something like this never happens again."
Source: Texas Tribune on 2018 Texas gubernatorial race Aug 7, 2018

Lupe Valdez: Too many people are kept in jail simply because they're poor

Gov. Greg Abbott announced his proposed Damon Allen Act, named in honor of a 41-year-old highway patrol trooper who was gunned down last during a traffic stop. The suspect, 33-year-old Dabrett Black, was out of jail on a $15,500 bond at the time. But not everyone is on board.

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, the Democratic candidate for governor, said in a statement that a discussion on bail reform must address that too many people are kept in jail simply because they're poor. She also knocked Abbott for excluding gun control from the conversation. "If we are going to talk about keeping our communities safe from harm, we must put in place gun safety measures including universal background checks and red flag laws, which could have kept Dabrett Black from having access to the gun that killed Officer Allen," Valdez said.

Source: Texas Tribune on 2018 Texas gubernatorial race Aug 7, 2018

John Cornyn: Co-wrote bill for data-driven cooperation to fight crime

The House passed a bill introduced by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Cornyn (R-TX), the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act of 2018, which would authorize a nationwide law enforcement program focused on the reduction of violent crime. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.

["Partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement, something I implemented as Texas Attorney General, are an effective way to reduce crime rates and protect our communities," said Senator Cornyn. "The Project Safe Neighborhoods program helps law enforcement at all levels across the country to investigate and prosecute the most dangerous and repeat offenders."]

Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutors that uses evidence-based and data-driven approaches to reduce violent crime.

Source: 2020 Texas Senate campaign website peters.senate.gov Jun 7, 2018

Greg Abbott: Make it a hate crime to target uniformed police officers

Unbelievably, last year ambush-style killings of police increased more than 150 percent. These murders had one thing in common: The victims were killed because of the uniform they wear.

Texas will not tolerate attacks on law enforcement officers. We will rise up as a state in support our law enforcement. I want legislation that increases penalties and makes it a hate crime for criminals who target peace officers simply because of their uniform.

Source: 2017 State of the State address to Texas Legislature Jan 31, 2017

Vicente Gonzalez: Increase investments & resources for local law enforcement

Keeping America Safe: America is the land of the free and home of the brave. I support a strong Military and local first responders that keep our country and families safe.
Source: 2016 Texas House campaign website VicenteGonzalez.com Nov 8, 2016

Greg Abbott: 2003 Fugitive unit resulted in 4,400 more arrests

Our most precious Texans are also among the most vulnerable. Greg Abbott has made protecting children and removing dangerous predators from our communities a top priority as Texas' Attorney General.

He launched the Cyber Crimes and Fugitive units in 2003, directly resulting in the arrest of more than 4,454 fugitives, sex offenders, parole violators, and other felons.

In addition to fostering safety for our children in our communities and online, one of the most important responsibilities of the Attorney General is the collection of child support.

Child support directly benefits the children and saves Texas taxpayers money by avoiding additional state welfare costs. Under Greg Abbott's watch, the Attorney General's office has collected over $31 billion in child support for Texas children. In 2014, his office was recognized as the nation's best child support program by the National Child Support Enforcement Association.

Source: 2014 Texas Gubernatorial campaign website, GregAbbott.com Nov 4, 2014

Emily Sanchez: Opposes stricter punishment to reduce crime

Q: Do you support or oppose the statement, "Stricter punishment reduces crime"?

A: Oppose.

Source: E-mail interview on Texas 2014 Senate race with OnTheIssues Sep 19, 2014

Steve Stockman: Admits being jailed in 1970s, but suing group for saying so

Stockman accused a group that supports Cornyn of lying about him, by asserting that he had been "jailed more than once" and was "charged with a felony." That is strange, because Stockman has admitted to these facts, several times.

"I may have been in jail a couple of times, two or three times," he told this newspaper. As for the felony charge, that stemmed from the time his girlfriend hid three Valium tablets in his underpants when he was reporting for a weekend in jail. "When they found that they charged me with a felony," he told the Houston Chronicle. Those interviews were back in 1995, during Stockman's first 2-year stint in Congress.

Stockman announced that he has filed a libel lawsuit in Houston against Texans for a Conservative Majority, a political action committee funded and run by Cornyn supporters. Its website, ShadyStockman.com, includes the line: "He has been jailed more than once, and was charge with a felony after one such incident when authorities found Valium in his pants."

Source: Dallas News AdWatch on 2014 Texas Senate race Jan 31, 2014

David Dewhurst: Mandatory 25-year-to-life sentence for first-time child rape

David has worked with countless volunteers and activists across Texas in passing legislation that keeps our children safe and strengthens Texas families. Dewhurst will continue to fight for pro-family legislation in the US Senate.
Source: 2012 Senate Campaign website, dewhurstfortexas.com, "Issues" Mar 31, 2012

Rick Perry: Life without parole for certain repeat sex offenders

The pursuit of true stability and security also requires us to maintain law and order and keep our citizens safe. Last fall, I proposed legislation targeting sex offenders, to better protect our citizens. We should empower prosecutors to seek life without parole for certain repeat sex offenders, and requiring active GPS monitoring of high risk offenders for three years after they've done their time and been released by TDCJ.
Source: 2011 Texas State of the State Address Feb 8, 2011

Randy Weber: Supports the death penalty

Q: Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support the enforcement of federal immigration laws by state and local police?

A: Yes.

Source: Texas Congressional 2010 Political Courage Test Nov 1, 2010

Randy Weber: Alternative sentencing ok; trying minors sometimes ok

Q: Do you support alternatives to incarceration for certain non-violent offenders, such as mandatory counseling or substance abuse treatment?

A: Yes.

Q: Should a minor accused of a violent crime be prosecuted as an adult?

A: Too general, has to be decided on each case.

Q: Should a minor who sends sexually-explicit or nude photos by cell phone face criminal charges?

A: Has to be decided case by case.

Source: Texas Congressional 2010 Political Courage Test Nov 1, 2010

Jon Roland: Supports death penalty for federal crimes

Source: Texas Congressional Election 2008 Political Courage Test May 2, 2008

Jon Roland: Repeal most federal criminal statutes as unconstitutional

Source: Texas Congressional Election 2008 Political Courage Test May 2, 2008

Rick Perry: Amachi program: break up generational cycle of incarceration

Perhaps no student population is at greater risk than the children of prisoners. 70% are destined to follow a parent's path behind bars if no one intervenes. This is a national tragedy. We must break up the generational cycle of incarceration. That is wh Texas was the first state to offer a statewide grant for the Amachi program administered by Big Brothers/Big Sisters, which mentors the children of prisoners. For the sake of these children, I ask you to continue funding this important program.
Source: Texas 2007 State of the State address Feb 6, 2007

Rick Perry: Tough and smart: jail sexual offenders; release non-violent

When it comes to criminal justice, I believe we can take an approach to crime that is both tough and smart. I agree with our Lieutenant Governor that sexual offenders who harm our children must face tougher penalties. At the same time, there are thousands of non-violent offenders in the system whose future we cannot ignore. Let's focus more resources on rehabilitating those offenders so we can ultimately spend less money locking them up again.
Source: Texas 2007 State of the State address Feb 6, 2007

Joaquin Castro: More community centers; more job assistance for inmates

Source: Texas 2006 Congressional National Political Awareness Test Nov 1, 2006

Rick Perry: Vetoes ban on execution of mentally retarded inmates

Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill to ban the execution of mentally retarded death row inmates, saying the state already has numerous safeguards in place to protect them. “This legislation is not about whether to execute mentally retarded murderers,” Perry said. “It is about who determines whether a defendant is mentally retarded in the Texas justice system.”

The bill would have allowed a jury to determine during the trial’s punishment phase whether a defendant is mentally retarded. If so, the person would be sentenced only to life in prison.

Existing law takes into account whether a defendant is competent to stand trial, including whether the defendant can aid his own defense and whether a defendant was insane when the crime was committed. Prosecutors say those factors, and the fact that a jury can consider retardation as a mitigating circumstance during sentencing, are sufficient.

Source: CBS News.com coverage of Texas Voting Records for HB 236 Jun 17, 2002

Pete Gallego: No death penalty for the mentally retarded

Legislature's Analysis, "Background and Purpose": In 1989, the United States Supreme Court decided that executing people who have mental retardation does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The decision did, however, provide for jury instructions to incorporate evidence of mental retardation as a possible mitigating factor in the imposition of the death penalty. There is some concern among Texans that the execution of these persons is unjust because persons with mental retardation may be less culpable for their crimes or may not have the capacity to understand the consequences of their actions. House Bill 236 enables defense counsel to request a hearing to determine whether a defendant had mental retardation at the time of the commission of the offense and prohibits a court from sentencing a person with mental retardation to death.

Legislative outcome: Bill vetoed by Governor Rick Perry, June 17, 2001

Source: Texas legislative voting records: HB 236 Feb 6, 2001

Rick Perry: Supports DNA testing; standards for capital defenders

    Governor Rick Perry?s proposals about capital punishment:
  1. Proposed DNA testing for cases where it can shed light on a person?s guilt or innocence. Pledged financial assistance to local police and medical examiners in this regard.
  2. Improve the quality of defense counsel for trials. Statewide standards for selecting defense lawyers, including a minimum level of experience in handling criminal felony trials.
  3. Give juries the option of sentencing capital defendants to prison for the rest of their lives, without parole, rather than executing them.
Governor Perry?s proposals recognize that Texas desperately needs to introduce rationality and fairness to a system that is out of control, and which has a high risk of executing innocent people.
Source: TexasCivilRightsProject.org, Op-Ed Jan 25, 2001

Paul Sadler: End parole for repeat violent felons

Source: Texas State 1998 National Political Awareness Test Nov 1, 1998

George W. Bush: Send juvenile criminals to “boot camp”

You are responsible for your behavior -- you, not your circumstances, not society. [Now, convicted juveniles’] heads are shaved. They wear bright orange uniforms. They march in boot camp style, and they’re taught that they are responsible for the choices they make in life. [During a visit, the boys said], I committed the offense of armed robbery, Sir. I’m serving a one year minimum sentence as a consequence for my behavior, Sir. In short, they are learning. the value of discipline and respect.
Source: Powell Lecture Series, Texas A&M University Apr 6, 1998

Brian Babin: Broaden death penalty; more truth-in-sentencing

Source: Texas Legislative 1996 National Political Awareness Test Nov 1, 1996

  • The above quotations are from State of Texas Politicians: Archives.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Crime.
  • Click here for other issues (main summary page).
2020 Presidential contenders on Crime:
  Democrats running for President:
Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Gov.Lincoln Chafee (L-RI)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)

2020 Third Party Candidates:
Rep.Justin Amash (L-MI)
CEO Don Blankenship (C-WV)
Gov.Lincoln Chafee (L-RI)
Howie Hawkins (G-NY)
Gov.Gary Johnson(L-NM)
Howard Schultz(I-WA)
Gov.Jesse Ventura (I-MN)
Republicans running for President:
Sen.Ted Cruz(R-TX)
Gov.Larry Hogan (R-MD)
Gov.John Kasich(R-OH)
V.P.Mike Pence(R-IN)
Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
Pres.Donald Trump(R-NY)
Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
Gov.Bill Weld(R-MA & L-NY)

2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
Sen.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
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