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Texas Matters: Rethinking Crime and Punishment

Rob Crow
Contributed photo

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, two hundred survivors of violent crimes from across Texas will come together on the steps of the Texas State Capitol.

Survivors Speak is partnering with Crime Survivors of Safety and Justice in calling for a reforms and a public safety agenda that they say will make Texas safer.

However, they are not calling for tougher police tactics, longer prison sentences and harsher treatment of law breakers. Instead, they say society is locked into a negative cycle of crime that provides few avenues of healing and treatment for both the victims and the perpetrators.

They are calling for improving the Texas Victims Compensation System which provides services to crime survivors. And they want to see improvements to the Texas Probation System to reduce recidivism, improve public safety and improve criminal justuce outcomes with taxpayer dollars.

Maria Lucas is a survivor of violent crime and an advocate for Survivors Speak.

When Reginald Dwayne Betts was 16 years old, he took a gun and committed a crime. He carjacked someone. Twenty-four hours later he was arrested, then tried as an adult and sent to prison, where he served eight years.

After his release, Betts managed to avoid the typical path of convicted felons. Today Betts is an acclaimed poet and writer. He earned a law degree from Yale Univerity and is a practicing attorney. Betts is also the national spokesman for the Campaign for Youth Justice.

Betts is the Spring 2019 Social Justice Reading Series author at Our Lady of the Lake University.  His reading will be at Our Lady of the Lake University on Monday, Feb. 18 at 7:00 p.m. in Thiry Auditorium.  The event is open to the public. 

Copyright 2020 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

David Martin Davies is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience covering Texas, the border and Mexico.