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Relating to the continuation and functions of the Commission on Jail Standards.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 1545 would extend the sunset provision for the Commission on Jail Standards through September 1, 2033, and would require the executive director of the Commission on Jail Standards to create a training manual and minimum standards for different types of jails and to maintain a system to efficiently act on any complaints filed.
The bill would revise the process for receiving and addressing complaints about the system, and allow for the creation of advisory committees to make recommendations on commission programs, rules, and policies.
The bill would require the adoption of a policy prioritizing the inspection of jails under the commission’s jurisdiction based on the relative risk level of a jail. Parameters for this policy are outlined in the bill, including allowing for the use of abbreviated inspection procedures or other methods instead of conducting an in-person inspection at jails determined to be low risk.
HB 1545 further revises requirements related to enforcement actions, minimum standards, reinspection of jails found not to be in compliance with minimum standards, and investigation protocols in the event of the death of a person in a county jail.
The reforms proposed by HB 1545 represent an attempt to fix several problems present within the jail system in Texas. The government has an inherent responsibility to ensure that the jails it utilizes are being run efficiently, fairly, and are held to high standards to protect people held in confinement. This bill represents a benefit for individual liberty, personal responsibility, and limited government. Overall Texas Action supports HB 1545, however we do offer a recommendation for improvement.
Section 7 would allow the commission to conduct alternative methods of inspection for low-risk jails including "methods instead of conducting an in-person inspection." We recommend amending this section to require periodic in-person inspection for low-risk jails to ensure compliance and standards are maintained.