The Champion

May 2014 , Page 47 

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State Criminal Justice Network Legislative Update: Lessons Learned From Legislative Victories in the Lone Star State

By Scott Ehlers

Read more State Criminal Justice Network Legislative Update columns.

Texas has a reputation around the country — and the world — for being “tough on crime,” and the statistics would seem to bear that out. As of 2011, Texas had more people in prison than any other state1 and had the fourth highest imprisonment rate in the country.2 Texas regularly leads the nation in executions. In 2012, the Lone Star State executed 15 people, representing over one-third of the 43 executions in America.3 

Texas has always been politically conservative, whether Democrats or Republicans have been in charge. The state has not elected a Democrat to a statewide office since 1994, longer than any other state in the country.4 In addition to a Republican governor and lieutenant governor, Republicans held sizeable majorities in the state legislature in 2013 — 95 to 55 in the House and 19 to 12 in the Senate.5 

While some will presume that a historically conservative, tough-on-crime state such as Texas would have a legislature and governor that are hostile to criminal j

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