The early 1990s marked the high water mark of violent crime in Texas, as demographics, the crack cocaine epidemic, and newly active gangs all combined to lead to all time highs for the state's murder and violent crime rate, 1200 WOAI news reports.
San Antonio reported 230 murders in 1993, compared with 78 last year, despite the fact that San Antonio in 1993 had more than a quarter million fewer residents than it has today.
Citizens fed up with crime approved many of the tough sentencing guidelines which are still in place today, and, under pressure from citizens, the Legislature approved the construction of new prison units, like the Dominquez Unit near San Antonio, to house the overflow criminal population.
But fast forward for twenty years. It's true that Texas crime rates have fallen substantially, but many of the violent offenders who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in the early to mid 1990s are finishing up their 'twenty to life' sentences and many are set to be released.
In fact, a report by the Pew Charitable Trust says as many as one in five inmates who are currently in prison will see those iron doors swing open for them in 2014.
"If we're serious about public safety, we have to make sure that we are not kicking these inmates out with nothing more than a bus ticket and the clothes on their backs," Adam Gelb of Pew told 1200 WOAI news.
It is estimated that 98% of all prison inmates in Texas will get out of prison at some point, which experts say argues against the type of 'throw away the key' punishment that many in Texas would like.
And Gelb says the state needs to come up with programs to make sure these individuals, who were locked up before there was such a thing as the World Wide Web, can have help re-integrating into society.
"the days, the weeks, the months following a release are the most important time that we intervene to make sure that the offender doesn't commit a new crime and claim a new victim that will land him back in prison," Gelb says.