NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Crime Record In Texas

January 21, 2000

Since Texas Gov. George W. Bush is the leading candidate to become the next Republican candidate for president of the United States, it is an especially propitious opportunity to review the state's experience on crime and punishment , says Morgan Reynolds, director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Overall, in the 1990s, Texas experienced a steeper drop in serious crimes than the nation as a whole. Serious crimes are defined as murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and burglary.

  • During the past decade serious crime dropped 33 percent in Texas versus 27 percent in the nation.
  • The Texas advantage stems primarily from steeper drops in murder and burglary: murder declined by 52 percent in Texas versus 33 percent nationally since 1990.
  • Burglary dropped 47 percent in Texas versus 31 percent in the nation.
  • The remaining three crimes dropped by similar percentages in Texas and the nation.

Can these differences in crime reduction be attributed to tougher policies in Texas?

  • The incarceration rate in Texas rose from 290 prisoners per 100,000 population in 1990 -- slightly below the national rate of 292 -- to 724 prisoners per 100,000 in 1998, giving Texas a rate 57 percent higher than the national average.
  • However, the odds of imprisonment for committing a crime actually increased somewhat faster in the nation than in Texas -- while the overall probability of prison for the five serious crimes rose 26 percent nationally since 1990 but went up only 20 percent in Texas.
  • But at the national level, time served increased only moderately during the 1990s, up about 12 percent for the five serious crimes -- while more than tripling during the 1990s in Texas.

And, it is now almost impossible to get paroled in Texas.

Source: Morgan Reynolds (National Center for Policy Analysis), "Prison System Should Target Recidivism," Dallas Morning News, January 21, 2000.


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