Senator Huffines Files Bills To Reform Criminal Justice
AUSTIN – Today in Austin, Senator Don Huffines (R-Dallas) filed a package of criminal justice reform bills to protect Texans and refocus the state’s time and attention, as well as the taxpayers’ dollars, on serious crimes and dangerous criminals. Senator Huffines stated, "Texas can be smart on crime, while remaining mindful that law and order and the rule of law are critical to a safe and successful state."
Repeal of the Driver Responsibility Program – Senate Bill 661
Senator Huffines stated, “The Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) is a perfect example of the best intentions of state government being misplaced in a program that is hurtful to millions of Texans. By stacking punitive fines and fees on top of standard traffic fines, the DRP is little more than a modern day debtors’ prison. People are losing their jobs and lives are being ruined all in the name of funding a state program. Trauma centers deserve a better, smarter, and more reliable revenue stream that isn’t built on the backs of the poorest Texans. I won’t let funding for a state program serve as an excuse to keep this reprehensible, life-wrecking program on the books for another day. We must end this debtors' prison.”
Unlike other DRP repeal bills filed, Senator Huffines’ SB 661 would eliminate all outstanding debts – which total approximately $2 billion – and direct the Legislative Budget Board to consider different funding streams for trauma centers (without considering the possibility of new taxes or higher fees).
Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform – Senate Bill 662 & Senate Bill 663
Senator Huffines stated, “As we strive toward the ultimate goal of repealing civil asset forfeiture, as other states have done, we must also work to limit the negative impact this program has on the lives of the Texans it ensnares. Increased and improved reporting will shine much-needed sunlight on the questionable practice of seizing people's belongings without even charging them with a crime. Allocating the proceeds of civil asset forfeiture to the Compensation to Victims of Crime Fund will break the perverse incentive for law enforcement to seize belongings in order to grow their slush fund. When those who seize the belongings don’t get to keep the proceeds, perhaps the seizures will be more limited and judicious."
Allowing, at Judges' Discretion, Deferred Adjudication for First DWI Offense– Senate Bill 664
Senator Huffines stated, “Driving while intoxicated is a dangerous mistake that all too often cuts short innocent lives. The worst offenders and repeat defendants deserve harsh punishment. First time offenders, however, should be eligible for deferred adjudication at the discretion of a judge. I trust judges to use this tool wisely and to the benefit of our criminal justice system, and even safer roads.”