Messages of Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas to the thirty-seventh legislature Page: 15 of 36
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MESSAGE FROM THE GOVERNOR.
Austin, Texas, Feb. 1, 1921.
To the members of the Senate and House of Representatives:
The Iaw Is Supreme Gentlemen: The law is the stabilizing influand
Its Enforcement ence which holds society together. It is the
Is the Fist Duty of foundation of every civilization. To uphold
the Government. it is the first duty of a government. The law
of the land should be revered and cherished as
sacred at all times. The progress of the State and the safety of her
people depend on its rigid enforcement. If the State is to be respected,
her laws must be obeyed. Disregard for the law undermines
the very foundation of organized society. When a government ceases
to enforce her laws it ceases to be a government and becomes a mob.
There is sweeping over Texas, as never before in her history, a wave
of crime. Mlurder, theft, robbery and holdups are hourly. occurrences
that fill the daily press. The spirit of lawlessness has become alarming.
Our loose method of dealing with violators of the law is in a
large degree responsible for the conditions that today confront us.
A lax enforcement of law begets a disrespect for law. A disrespect
for law makes criminals. Criminals fill the land with terror and make
unsafe both life and property. To the end that we may have through.
out the State a proper respect for the law, and in order that its mandates
may be obeyed, I most earnestly recommend for your consideration
First. Repeal outright the entire law providing for the suspended
sentence. This law is the convenient vehicle in which a great number
of criminals, both old and young, escape punishment for the gravest
of crimes. It is the incubator of professional criminals. For the
past several years there has been in this State an average of more
than one thousand suspendedi sentences a year given to convicted
criminals. In a number of counties practically every sentence is suspended.
Those criminally inclined have learned the laws to which
the suspended sentence applies, and for that reason these laws are
openly violated, because it is well understood that if you are acci.
dentally caught you can escape punishment through the loophole of a
suspended sentence. Approximately 90 per cent of the business of
our criminal courts is a fruitless effort to enforce laws dealing with the
suspended sentence. Money consideration is the smallest item connected
with a matter of this kind, and yet it is proper to remind you
Here’s what’s next.
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Neff, Pat M. Messages of Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas to the thirty-seventh legislature, book, 1921; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5871/m1/15/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .