Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Interim Charges
In this week’s article, I want to continue the discussion on the important role played by the Texas House committees during the interim period. Following the close of every legislative session, the Speaker of the House outlines the interim policy objectives for the various standing committees and assigns each committee a number of interim charges based on these objectives. The committees then hold a series of hearings over the course of several months in order further study the interim charges. These hearings allow the members of each respective committee the opportunity to hear testimony from various stakeholders and experts. The input provided in these meetings helps develop a deeper understanding of the issues facing our state and often times determines the course of future legislation.
As a member of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, the other members and I have been tasked with reviewing several interim charges relating to the state’s criminal justice system. These interim charges include the following:
1. Examine the feasibility of utilizing GPS monitoring in protective orders as a tool to help reduce family violence; study programs and identify best practices focused on the intervention and prevention of family violence and consider statutory changes needed to further deter the offense of family violence and domestic abuse.
2. Review pretrial service and bonding practices throughout the state. Examine factors considered in bail and pre-trial confinement decisions, including the use of risk assessments; assess the effectiveness and efficiency of different systems in terms of cost to local governments and taxpayers, community safety, pretrial absconding rates and rights of the accused. (Joint charge with the House Committee on County Affairs)
3. Examine the use of asset forfeiture in this state, including data reporting on forfeiture actions and procedures from seizure through forfeiture in both contested and uncontested cases. Make recommendations for improving these systems that balance law enforcement needs, private property rights, and government transparency.
4. Study the constitutional requirements and local practices for the appointment of counsel to indigent defendants and the operation of innocence projects at the state’s six public law schools. Compare different indigent defense plans and the innocence projects across the state and identify best practices for system management, including appointment methods and timing, cost effectiveness, timeliness of case disposition, compensation of counsel, quality of representation, and protection of procedural rights. Consider the effectiveness of each of the programs currently funded and the funding strategy as a whole.
5. Examine fees and revocations for those on probation and parole; examine effectiveness of fees imposed as a condition of probation and parole; study technical revocations in adult probation to identify drivers of revocations, disparities across the state, and strategies for reducing technical revocations while ensuring program effectiveness and public safety. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Corrections)
6. Conduct legislative oversight and monitoring of the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 84th Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee should:
a. consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens;
b. identify issues regarding the agency or its governance that may be appropriate to investigate, improve, remedy, or eliminate;
c. determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner; and
d. identify opportunities to streamline programs and services while maintaining the mission of the agency and its programs.
If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).
– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32
Rep. Hunter represents Nueces (Part) County. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 512-463-0672.