Friday, January 3, 2014

Jerry Madden, leading the way on crime reforms

I caught up with Jerry Madden, retired Texas state representative, in Dallas on November 27, 2013 to ask him how Texas became one of the first states to pass sweeping crime and justice reforms in decades.

Texas, with its reputation for locking 'em up and throwing away the key, not to mention its famous Death Row in Huntsville, seemed an unlikely state to embrace such reforms. It all started with marching orders for Madden, the newly appointed chairman of the Committee on Corrections, issued by the Speaker of the House: "Don't build any more prisons, Jerry. They cost too much."

With no particular experience in the court or prison systems, Jerry Madden tapped into his 12 years of legislative experience and his military and engineering background to search for solutions to the ever growing prison population that was costing Texas huge amounts of money and having little or no impact on crime.

I boiled down our hour-and-a-half interview to 22 minutes, capturing Madden's approach to managing Texas' burgeoning inmate population while dropping its crime rate to a 35-year low. Learn from this sage, 70-year-old Texan how he asked the unasked questions and challenged the status quo to start a movement that is spreading across the country.

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