The Ex-Warden’s Case for Criminal Justice Reform
Houston’s KHOU-TV had this interview the other day with Richard Watkins, ex-warden in the Texas prison system. The interview isn’t particularly hard-hitting — OK, it is local news, what did I expect — but did yield a few intriguing quotes:
On the need for prison rehabilitation programs: “We need treatment for these offenders as opposed to lock them up.”
Proposing bonus pay for wardens: “If you release a better person than you received, in terms of drug and alcohol addiction, education, job training, we’ll pay you more, Mr. Warden.”
On the costs of incarcerating low-level drug offenders: “It’s a radical statement to hear this from an ex-warden. We’re going to have [to] work a system to legalize drugs.”
The brief video is worth watching for a few glimpses inside a Texas prison, and for commentary by a Texas state senator on the Lone Star State’s expansion of prison rehabilitation programs in recent years. But it’s pretty standard 10 o’clock news fare, so I’m hoping a more intrepid news source will follow up with ex-Warden Watkins. I’d be curious to hear more about his innovative ideas for prison treatment programs, incentive pay for wardens, and drug legalization! In the meantime, to stay on top of Texas criminal justice issues you can’t do much better than reading the Grits for Breakfast blog.