As of 2007, if the court convicts you on a first offense for a non-violent crime or drug offense, Texas law mandates that the court must sentence you to drug rehabilitation or probation as an alternative to incarceration. This was one of several reforms that came to be through a correctional treatment and diversion plan throughout the state. In decades prior to these reforms, there was an approximate total of 150,000 inmates housed in state prisons.
Former Governor Ricky Perry activated a bipartisan reform of the Texas criminal justice system. At the time, state prisons were full, yet the governor learned that at least 17,000 or more inmates could enter the system that year. Data shows that the mandates ultimately saved taxpayers millions of dollars and reduced the prison population.
Similar reforms since that time have helped pregnant women convicted of crimes in Texas
If you are one of many pregnant women who have had their cases adjudicated through the Texas criminal justice system, you’ll no doubt be glad to know that mandates instituted in 2019 have made state prisons a lot safer for expectant mothers. The following list shows several mandates that are currently in place to protect pregnant women who are serving time in jail:
- If you are an expectant mother residing in a Texas prison, law enforcement officers or guards cannot place you in shackles.
- You must have access to educational materials that can help you prepare for childbirth and motherhood.
- If you undergo a strip search, a female guard must administer it.
- After giving birth, for as long as your incarceration, you may see your child (and any other child you have who is under age 18) a minimum of two times per week.
In recent years, these and other reforms have reportedly had a positive effect on communities throughout the state. The overall crime rate in Texas has greatly decreased, and the prison population has been reduced so much that numerous prisons have been closed.
Understand your criminal defense options and know how to defend your rights
While most people would agree that there have been significant improvements made in the Texas criminal justice system, no one wants to wind up in jail. An arrest and charge with a crime doesn’t necessarily mean you will face a conviction or serve time in prison if a conviction is handed down.
Regardless of the events that led to your arrest, as a defendant with an active docket sheet in a Texas court, you have an opportunity to exercise any options or strategies available to try to mitigate your circumstances. You have a right to seek counsel and a right to challenge evidence or request a case dismissal if a personal rights violation took place leading up to, during or following your arrest.