Criminal justice reform has long been a major topic of concern for people in Texas and across the country. Now, the First Step Act has been introduced and is being backed by a diverse and sometimes incongruous set of supporters, including President Donald Trump and the American Civil Liberties Union. The bill has been criticized by some as only a cosmetic improvement while others have accused it of being soft on crime. Nevertheless, it's important to understand the specific provisions of the law to see how it will affect people dealing with the justice system.
In Texas and across the country, ankle monitors have often been promoted as a humane alternative to traditional incarceration. After a spate of negative publicity exposed the practice of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to separate undocumented immigrant parents and children, families have now been monitored through these devices. In addition, people accused of white-collar crimes have also been assigned ankle monitors on a fairly frequent basis. Research indicates that police and other agencies' use of electronic ankle monitors has more than doubled between 2005 and 2015.
As the country's opioid crisis becomes more widespread, many states, such as Texas, are starting to blame others when an opioid overdose death occurs. This means that the drug dealer who sold the user the drugs that resulted in the overdose, the user's friends and even his or her relatives could face legal consequences following a fatal overdose.
Texas readers would like to believe that the U.S. justice system always gets convictions right. However, a new study suggests that around 6 percent of all prisoners could be innocent of the crimes they were accused of. The study was published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology in April.