State Rep. Abel Herrero to host public hearing in Corpus Christi on Texas criminal justice system


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Corpus Christi, TX– Members of the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, chaired by State Rep. Abel Herrero, will take invited and public testimony at a hearing on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The Committee will consider … Continue reading




Austin, Texas–Today, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus named Representative Abel Herrero and 10 other legislators to the Joint Interim Committee to Study a Coastal Barrier System. Rep. Herrero released the following statement:

“I welcome the Speaker’s appointment to the Joint Interim Committee to Study a Coastal Barrier System. Texans have clearly shown their support for preserving our beaches and keeping them accessible to the public. As a member of the interim committee, I will work  to maintain access to our beaches and protect our coast line and coastal communities.”

The committee was created by HB 3459, 82nd Regular Session, with the purpose to study the effect of recent changes made to the Texas Open Beaches Act and the Severance v Patterson decision.

House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence Receives Interim Charges

House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence Receives Interim Charges

Chairman Herrero dedicated to improving the Texas criminal justice system

Austin, Texas – Today Speaker Joe Straus released the Interim Committee Charges for the 83rd Legislature. The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, Chaired by State Representative Abel Herrero (D-Robstown), will consider policy charges relevant to improving the Texas criminal justice system.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues during the interim to improve our state’s criminal justice system,” stated Rep. Herrero. “We have an opportunity to work toward a sound criminal justice policy that provides justice to the victims, gives offenders a fair process with a hope of rehabilitation, and keeps our families and communities safe.

The House Committee on Jurisprudence will address policies that include sentencing for certain youth offenders, efforts to reduce individuals with mental illness caught in the system and a history of overcriminalization.

“Today approximately 1 in 28 Texans are in our state corrections system. However, this number doesn’t give the whole picture of its affect because it does not include the victims or their families or the families of the offenders. We all have an interest in focusing our efforts on stopping the cycle of crime and protecting our loved-ones from being victims,” added Herrero.

Interim charges are policy issues assigned to each legislative committee by the Texas Speaker of the House to consider and study pertinent issues in preparation for the 84th Legislative Session.

The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence Interim Charges are as follows:

1.      Study the classification of 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system of Texas.

2.      Study the effectiveness of deferred adjudication and orders for non-disclosure in spite of        the many exceptions to the statute. Study extending the use of expunction of criminal records history and non-disclosures to certain qualified individuals with low-level, non-violent convictions. Examine the statutorily allowed but underused non-disclosure and expunction of criminal records, and the use of deferred adjudication.

3.      Study the impact of SB 1289 (83R). Examine the sale of criminal histories that may be    erroneous as well as the lasting impact that arrest records have on individuals who are arrested but not charged or convicted. Assess the need for revision of existing statutes and consider designating an agency responsible for regulating entities involved in the industry.

4.      Examine the association between co-occurring serious mental illness and substance use disorders and parole revocation among inmates from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Review current policies and procedures for incarcerating individuals with a dual mental health diagnosis in both state and county correctional facilities and examine potential remedies within the State’s criminal justice system to ensure that the public is protected and that individuals with a mental health diagnosis receive a continuum of mental health services. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Corrections)

5.      Examine the current pecuniary loss thresholds associated with graffiti offenses. Study the costs of enhancing the penalties associated with the offense of graffiti, as well as a study of pretrial diversion programs that exist in other states and are specific to persons convicted of graffiti offenses. Study the existing Graffiti Abatement Programs in Texas.

6.      Evaluate the approximately 1,500 non-traditional criminal offenses that can be found outside of the Penal Code. Study the feasibility of streamlining these offenses and examine ambiguities in the law. Study the existing use of the Rule of Lenity and Mens Rea requirements in Texas and the benefit of codifying both of these standards.

7.      Examine the utilization of community supervision in state jail felonies and the effectiveness of the state jail in light of its original purpose.

8.      Conduct legislative oversight and monitoring of the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 83rd Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee should:

a.       consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens;

b.      identify issues regarding the agency or its governance that may be appropriate to investigate, improve, remedy, or eliminate;

c.       determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner; and

d.      identify opportunities to streamline programs and services while maintaining the mission of the agency and its programs.

Town Hall Meeting focuses on transportation and education reform

By Jimmy Willden | Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013 12:17 pm

A Town Hall Meeting was held at the Community Center in Bishop, Texas on Wednesday, Nov. 20. State Rep. Abel Herrero, along with Precinct 2 County Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez, fielded questions involving issues and concerns that that people in the precinct had.

“We are here today at a town hall meeting that was set up in conjunction with Rep. Abel Herrero’s office. He’s opening the doors to them. One concern that he has, is that he wants to make sure that people feel they have the ability, or that they have a pipeline, to communicate with somebody,” said Commissioner Gonzalez. “Like myself, Rep. Herrero wants to make sure that the people feel comfortable.”

Some concerns that were addressed during the meeting included transportation and the upcoming TxDOT projects in the area; healthcare, especially for the disabled and the elderly; and the recent education reforms and restorations.

“This past session, we were able to increase the funding for public education by restoring the $3.2 billion of the $5.4 billion that was previously cut,” said Rep. Herrero.

These budget cuts, according to Rep. Herrero, lead to the over-crowding of classrooms, and over-testing. Herrero states that the number of standardized tests was fifteen from the student they entered as a freshman to the time that they graduated high school. After this past legislative session, the number has been reduced to just five standardized tests over the course of a student’s time in high school, and these five tests focus solely on the five core classes a student would need to graduate.

“We feel like we’ve been able to free teachers to teach students to learn, and we’ve been able to restore some of the resources and funds necessary to ensure that teachers have the resources necessary to education our children, and provide a first class education, no matter what school they may be attending.”

State Rep Herrero answers questions, hears concerns in Bishop


Rep. Herrero addresses Bishop residents.

By Ryan Rockett

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CORPUS CHRISTI — State Rep. Abel Herrero discussed public education, street improvements and disability funding with Bishop residents at a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Herrero held a question-and-answer session in which he fielded questions concerning transportation, education and other community issues at the Bishop Community Center.

Herrero said he wanted to inform residents of the results of the past legislative session as well as hear community concerns.

“As a state representative, I want to make sure I’m doing what I should be doing as an elected official, and that is representing the interests of the constituents,” Herrero said.

Herrero represents the state’s 34th district in the Texas House of Representatives. The crowd of about 20 people included Luis Buentello, field representative for congressman Blake Farenthold, and Nueces County Commissioner Joe Gonzalez.

Herrero also discussed public education improvements. Due to a state surplus, more than $2 billion was restored to the sector after receiving a $5.4 billion cut in 2011.

The state representative said the added funds helped improve the quality of education.

“(The funds) ensured teachers are no longer in overcrowded classrooms and made sure there’s a reduction in number of standardized tests so that every child, no matter what district they’re in, are receiving a first-class, quality education,” Herrero said.

Resident Christy Gonzalez said the reduction of standardized tests in schools this year was a boon to the community.

“Our kids are under a lot of pressure with those tests,” Gonzalez said. “It was good that they listened to the voices of the teachers around here.”

County Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez said though the added funds helped, more needs to be done in the public education sector.

“It’s a shame we lost $5 billion and only got back half,” Gonzalez said. “That’s not enough. … Our classrooms are crowded; we’re still short of teachers.”

When an elderly woman voiced her struggle with applying for disability due to the high value of her assets, Herrero said he will discuss the issue with congressman Farenthold’s office.

“That’s a federal provision that we’ll work with the congressman’s office to try to address,” Gonzalez said. “At the state level we’re trying to do what we can.”

Gonzalez mentioned several city-improving initiatives including increased lighting in poorly lit neighborhoods and a proposed new door-to-door bus system to transport Bishop residents to areas around Corpus Christi and Robstown at a discounted rate.

“It’s going to save you money and be a lot better for you guys,” Gonzalez said.

Since the Texas Legislature meets in odd-numbered years, the next legislative session won’t begin until January 2015. Herrero said state representatives will research state issues in the interim.

Gonzalez said he was appreciative of the state representative’s visit and said it was important to maintain lines of communication between representatives and residents.

“These are the things we need to have on a regular basis,” Gonzalez said. “It takes all of us to make things work.”