Governing magazine has recognized two Texas lawmakers in its 2010 class of Public Officials of the Year.
State Rep. Jerry Madden's, R-Plano, and state Sen. John Whitmire's, D-Houston, roles as corrections reformers caught the magazine's attention with their run to end a "prison-building binge" and revamp how the corrections system operates.
Both officials have victories in their own committees, but as a team, Madden and Whitmire put partisan tendencies aside and championed a "Texas-style" reform model that has caught the attention of other states.
What began as a large but typical request by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for more than $500 million for three new state prisons was transformed by Madden and Whitmire into a bid less than half that size for treatment and rehabilitation.
From the article:
The two men identified numerous initiatives supported by both liberals and conservatives, including more resources for rehabilitation and more secure beds for treatment. They believed that these initiatives would hold the prison population steady, improve outcomes and save Texas $2 billion over the course of five years.
Three years later, the reform already has tangible results:
Texas’ prison population has declined rather than risen by 15,000 inmates as projected, and probation recidivism has fallen by nearly one-quarter.