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George W. Bush On The Issues 2000

George W. Bush 2000 On The Issues


Governor Bush believes that the best way to protect the innocent is to fully enforce the law and to ensure swift and sure punishment for criminals.  During his term in office as Governor of Texas, he has made combating juvenile crime a top priority.  As a result of his tough policies, violent crime in Texas is down 20 percent and violent juvenile crime is down 44 percent.  Governor Bush also advocated and signed legislation providing comprehensive juvenile justice reform, tougher sex offender laws, longer sentences for violent repeat offenders, and zero tolerance for drunk driving.

Governor Bush’s Approach

Juvenile Crime:  As Governor, combating juvenile crime has been a top priority.  In 1995, Governor Bush called for and signed legislation overhauling Texas’ outdated juvenile justice laws.  The new laws restored responsibility and tough consequences for crimes committed by juveniles.  As a result, juvenile crime is down 17 percent in Texas – the first decline in over a decade – and violent juvenile crime is down 44 percent.

The Responsibility Era:  Governor Bush has consistently called for ushering in what he calls the “Responsibility Era” – a message that tells children that there are right choices in life and wrong choices in life.  He has consistently called for increased character education funding, abstinence education, and a dramatic expansion of after-school programs.  He also supports providing teachers and school administrators the necessary authority and legal protections to enact a zero-tolerance policy for disruptive behavior in the classroom.  Governor Bush believes that a good education is the best long-term criminal justice program.

Consequences:  Governor Bush believes the laws should be fully enforced and that criminal conduct should have serious consequences.  In his two terms as Governor he has advocated and signed comprehensive reforms toughening the juvenile justice code, abolishing a mandatory release law for certain violent offenders, effectively ending parole for violent repeat offenders, passing some of the toughest sex offender laws in the country, and restoring a provision making it a felony to assault a police officer.  As a result, overall crime in Texas decreased 14 percent and violent crime decreased 20 percent.  

Governor Bush’s Policies

As a governor, Governor Bush understands that state and local authorities are largely responsible for combating violent crime.  He believes the Federal government’s role in criminal justice is primarily international and multi-jurisdictional, including tough policies against organized crime, drug cartels, and international terrorism.  In addition to this role, Governor Bush believes the Federal government can do more to improve our criminal justice system:

1. Enforce federal gun laws.  Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, federal gun prosecutions have dropped 46%.  Governor Bush will give prosecutors the resources they need to aggressively enforce our gun laws and will provide more funding for aggressive gun law enforcement programs such as Texas Exile and Project Exile in Richmond, Virginia.  In addition, he supports the Republican legislation to allow active and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons across state lines.

2. Develop and promote successful criminal justice initiatives, such as the abolition of parole and truth in sentencing in the federal system.

3. Support state and local law enforcement with federal funding, technical assistance where needed, and a national database to help state and local police identify, track, and arrest fugitives who move across jurisdictional lines and to prosecute serious hate crimes where local jurisdictions lack the resources to do so.

4. Promote federal and state partnerships to develop advanced technology to help police work both smarter and more efficiently.

5. Combating terrorism.  Governor Bush strongly opposed the granting of clemency to 16 FALN terrorists by the Clinton-Gore Administration.  He believes that, as a nation, we must have zero tolerance for terrorism

Texas Record

Under Governor Bush Texans are Safer:

  • Crime is down.  During Governor Bush’s tenure, violent crime decreased 20 percent while overall crime decreased 14 percent.
  • Juvenile crime is down.  During Governor Bush’s term, violent juvenile crime decreased 44 percent and overall juvenile crime by 17 percent – the first decline in over a decade.
  • Juvenile sentences longer, tougher.  The average length of stay for all juvenile offenders increased 35 percent under Governor Bush.
  • Effectively abolished parole for violent offenders.  Under current parole policies, violent criminals in Texas are serving over 90 percent of their sentences; violent sex offenders are serving 100 percent of their sentences.

    Juvenile Justice Laws Provide Tougher Penalties and Consequences:

  • Strengthened the Juvenile Justice Code.  In 1995, the 74th Legislature responded to Governor Bush’s call to rewrite Texas’ outdated juvenile justice laws.

  • Lowered to 14 the age that most violent juveniles can be tried as adults and streamlined the certification process;
  • Expanded determinate sentencing options – the toughest juvenile incarceration penalty – for serious and habitual juvenile offenders;
  • Enacted new mandatory minimums for length of stay at the Texas Youth Commission;
  • Made juvenile records freely available to law enforcement officials;
  • Expanded the use of fingerprinting and photographing of juveniles;
  • Adopted a Progressive Sanctions Model sentencing system of incrementally more intrusive sanctions for juvenile offenders; and
  • Increased state funding for community-based programs to deter young criminals.

  • Created zero tolerance policy for juvenile drinking and driving.  In 1997, Texas enacted a zero-tolerance policy for those under 21 who are caught drinking and driving.
  • Increased penalties for graffiti offenses.  Lawmakers gave law enforcement officials the incentive to crack down on graffiti offenses.

    Abolished mandatory release of inmates and increased parolee supervision:

  • Abolished mandatory release.  In 1995, Governor Bush and the Legislature ended automatic release for all inmates convicted after September, 1996.
  • Unprecedented efforts to track parolees.  In 1997, the Legislature appropriated $19 million for super-intensive supervision of parolees required to be released from our prisons under the old state mandatory release law.

    Increased Capacity for Juvenile Offenders:

  • Doubled capacity at Texas Youth Commission.  Texas has more than doubled the capacity of TYC by adding 2,476 beds.
  • Created “Tough Love Academies.” These new facilities will give judges an “option of last resort” to discipline a juvenile at the local level before being sent to TYC.

    Toughened Laws for Sex Offenders:  

  • Passed  “two strikes and you’re out” law for sex offenders.  The new law removes the "two priors" provision and requires automatic life upon a second sex-related offense.  
  • Provided voluntary castration for sex offenders.  Signed a voluntary castration bill for repeat violent sex offenders who meet certain psychiatric and medical criteria.  

    Strengthened the Penal Code:

  • Eliminated automatic probation.  Judges now have the authority to place an offender convicted of a felony in jail regardless of whether the offender has a prior conviction.
  • Protected police officers.  Legislation also restored a provision making it a felony to assault police officers and other public servants.

    Streamlined Death Row Appeals:

  • Shortened time on death row.  Texas now allows the consideration of the habeas corpus petition at the same time as the direct appeal.  The new law also requires all relevant issues to be combined in the direct or the habeas appeal.
  • Improved counsel for capital defendants.  Governor Bush believes there is no more serious question than the guilt or innocence of a capital defendant, and under his tenure hourly fees have increased for indigent defense, state funds have been provided (although not constitutionally required) for state habeas challenges, funding for training and technical assistance has increased for counsel representing indigent defendants, and capital defendants have been guaranteed multiple attorneys meeting minimum qualifications.

    Cracked Down On Stalkers:

  • Made stalking a criminal offense.  Gave law enforcement the ability to prevent stalkers from engaging in acts of violence.

    Cracked Down On Domestic Violence:

  • Increased penalties.  Texas increased penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders and those who violate protective orders.
  • Provided better notification for victims.  Law enforcement officials are now required to notify victims of violence upon the offender’s release from custody.

Source: George W. Bush for President 2000 Web Site


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