Why BTL?

The impact of crime on society cannot be overstated.

Crime directly impacts its victims. Did you know:

  • Each year thousands of Texans are the victims of crime at the hands of others?
  • 22 percent of Houstonians are “very worried about crime?” (Klineberg)
  • Texas is ranked number seven (7) in the number of crimes per 100,000 people? (U.S. Bureau of Justice 2004)
  • In 2007 nearly 492 out of every 100,000 people in Harris County were the victim of a violent crime? (U.S. Department of Justice)

Crime affects our community. Did you know:

  • Nationally, it is estimated that the tangible costs (physical and mental health costs, loss of income, property damage) of victimization amount to more than $17 billion, and when intangible costs (such as reduced quality of life and pain and suffering) are taken into effect, this number climbs to more than $330 billion annually? (American Journal of Public Health, 2008)
  • Victims of violent crime often experience an adversarial justice system and few social supports? (OVCTTC, 2008)
  • Approximately 1 in 28 children in the United States is impacted by the incarceration of a parent? (Pew Charitable Trusts 2010)
  • Families with loved ones imprisoned experience a higher incidence of poverty and homelessness? And, as a result of emotional issues such as shame and loss, one in ten children of incarcerated parents will be incarcerated later in life. (Community Action Network 2009)

Incarceration and Recidivism* Rates of Offenders Impact Us All. Did you know:

  • The United States, home of 5 percent of the world’s population, holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners? (New York Times, 2008)
  • One out of every 140 U.S. residents is in jail or prison, and Texas holds approximately 154,000 prisoners each year—50 percent of whom are incarcerated for violent crimes? In fact, the rate of incarceration in Texas is 51 percent higher than the national average. (Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, 2009)
  • Each year, some 70,000 of these offenders are released back into Texas, and more than 15,000 are released into the Houston area? (Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, 2009)
  • Offenders are most likely to return to their county of conviction upon release from prison.  In 2010, the number of offenders released from TDCJ whose county of conviction was Dallas or Tarrant was 12,797. That number was nearly 5,000 in Bexar County (San Antonio), and nearly 3,000 in Travis County (Austin).  (TDCJ Annual Report, 2010)
  • Individuals who have been incarcerated face a multitude of challenges upon their release—including difficulty finding employment, a lack of family and social support, and substance abuse issues—that often-times lead to re-offending behaviors?
  • In 2007, states spent more than $49 billion on corrections, and that in Texas, this number has gone from $850 million in 1990 to $2.96 billion in 2008? (Pew Charitable Trusts 2008)
  • The state of Texas estimates the cost of incarceration alone to be $18,031 per year for each inmate in the prison system? The average term of incarceration is 5 years. So, the average cost per inmate for a term of incarceration is $90,155. (Texas Public Policy Foundation, February 2011)


The Youth in our Juvenile Justice System Need our Help. Did you know?

  • In Texas, approximately 140,000 youth are arrested annually - 80,000 of whom are referred to the probation system? (Texas Public Policy Foundation, 2011)
  • Taxpayers and victims will incur an estimated $2 million dollars for each young person who becomes a career criminal? (Texas Public Policy Foundation, February 2011)
  • Research shows that incarceration is less effective than evidence-based juvenile probation programs?
  • Every youth redirected from Texas Youth Commission (TYC) saves taxpayers about $80,000 a year? (Texas Public Policy Foundation, May 2010) 


*An offender is considered to have recidivated if, after release from prison, he/she commits a new crime or violates the term of his/her parole within 3 years and is re-incarcerated.

Is a program that reduces recidivism cost effective?


  • The average cost of re-incarcerating an offender is approximately $90,000.
  • The average cost of the Bridges To Life program in 2018 was $201 per offender.

BTL can be considered what is now termed a “justice reinvestment” program, since the BTL program uses “data-driven, fiscally responsible policies and practices to increase public safety and reduce recidivism and corrections spending.” (The Council of State Governments, The Pew Center on the States, and the Public Welfare Foundation, 2010).