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Relating to conditions of community supervision and procedures applicable to the reduction or termination of a defendant's period of community supervision.
The fiscal impact of implementing the bill is indeterminate due to the lack of data necessary
to determine the number of people whose community supervision would be terminated early
under the provisions of the bill. These data are necessary to estimate the fiscal impact of the
Currently, a court must review a defendant's eligibility for early termination of community supervision when they complete one-half or 2 years of their sentence, whichever is greater, if the defendant has successfully completed assigned programming and has paid restitution, fines, and fees. HB 3512 would allow for a six- to nine-month delay of the early termination review process to allow a defendant to come into compliance with the terms of their supervision and restitution payments. Also, this bill would require the court to inquire as to whether the defendant has sufficient resources to pay before ordering the defendant to make payments. If the court determines that the defendant does not have the ability to pay, the court may allow for alternative options such as waiving fines and fees in part or in full, allowing the defendant to pay at a later time, community service, or any combination of these options.
HB 3512 would also expand the purposes for which a judge who places a defendant on community supervision may authorize a supervision officer or magistrate to modify the conditions of community supervision to include prioritizing the conditions ordered by the court according to the defendant's needs. Needs would be determined by a risk and needs assessment and the defendant's progress under supervision.
This bill would also require a defendant who is not otherwise required to submit to testing for a controlled substance as a condition of community supervision to submit such testing on each occasion on which the supervision officer has a reasonable suspicion that the defendant has used a controlled substance.
With respect to the discretionary conditions of community supervision that may be imposed on a defendant, this bill would: (1) specify that the defendant is required to avoid persons or places of disreputable or harmful character to the extent indicated by the results of a risk and needs assessment; (2) limit the period in which a defendant is subject to drug-testing to the 45-day period after the date of placement on community supervision or any time during the period of supervision if the defendant tested positive, the judge determines that testing is necessary, or the offense involved a controlled substance or alcohol; and (3) limit the condition requiring a defendant to attend counseling sessions for substance abusers or participate in treatment services by requiring the defendant to do so only if the judge determines that it is necessary or the defendant's offense was related to controlled substance or alcohol abuse.
This bill would make numerous other changes to conditions or community supervision and procedures, including adding any faith-based, volunteer, or community-based program ordered or approved by the court to qualify as time credits toward the completion of the defendant's period of community supervision.
Texas Action recommends supporting HB 3512 because it promotes principles of limited government and individual liberty. This bill would encourage successful completion of community supervision by revising the probation conditions that may be imposed on defendants and providing for more reasonable accommodations, such as allowing for faith-based and community-based programs to complete credits as well as taking into consideration the defendant's financial situation. In turn, this will likely reduce recidivism, undue burdens on an individual's freedom, and taxpayer spending on the prison system. For these reasons, Texas Action supports this bill.