In 2012, The Texas Department of Public Safety issued new crime statistics that show a continuous downward trend. Violent crime experienced an average decrease of nearly 10%, almost 6% more than the national average. Property crimes decreased at a slightly lesser rate, but Texans still suffer nearly 9% less larcenies, shoplifting, arsons, and other crimes considered non-violent. The national property crime rate is down less than 1% by comparison.
The reduction in crime resulted less people going to prison—about one and a half percent less. As a result of less incarceration, Texas has been able to close a prison. The Central Unit near Houston was closed due to the unprecedented number of empty beds. This is in stark contrast to the overcrowding present in many of the country’s state prisons.
Some of the lowest level offenders are sentenced to prison alternatives in an effort to deal with felons without incarceration.
Texas authorities credit proactive policies and abandoning those policies that have failed in the past. Illinois is cited as an example of a state that has not showed improvement in overall crime rates. Prisons reached a staggering capacity of almost 150%; and the population of people entering prison is double the rate of state growth!
Although there are many reasons for Illinois’ increase in crime and subsequent increase in incarceration, policy mismanagement and a delayed response to crime data are partly to blame for the state’s crisis.
In almost direct contrast, Texas shows that progressive methods of handling crime and reacting to crime data are proving successful in their battle against crime.