Four-Dollar Gas Doesn't Stem Felons From Flooding Houston

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Houstonians who have been hoping that high gas prices might reduce the number of convicted felons on our streets will have to keep hoping a little longer.

What's the connection between fuel and felons? Easy -- the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has announced that it's reconsidering its longtime policy which mandates that just about every inmate being released from prison get bused to Huntsville for his freedom.

From there -- with the free bus voucher newly released inmates get -- many of them head straight for Houston.

But when gas is costing four bucks a gallon, that's a whole lot of perhaps unnecessary cross-state bus rides to Huntsville. Wouldn't it make more sense to release prisoners closer to where they're actually in prison? And, as an added benefit, they wouldn't immediately head here?

Way back in May, the Austin-American Statesman reported that TDCJ was considering just such a change.

And, almost two months later....they're still considering it.

"No decision yet," TDCJ spokesperson Michelle Lyons tells Hair Balls. "It's still in the planning stages -- looking at how it would work, where the regional release centers would best be situated, etc."

No schedule is really set for coming to a decision, either.

So, unless government bureaucracy suddenly decides to work fast -- or the price of gas rises so high it forces TDCJ's hand -- it looks like we here in Houston will still be getting the cream of the just-released ex-felon crop.

-- Richard Connelly

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