“I believe in the law. I promote the law. I stand with the law,” explained Newsom, who is also an ordained minister through Christ for the Nations. “On the other hand, there’s a place for mercy built into our law.” State officials have embraced a similar focus on rehabilitation, which has helped to make the Lone Star State a leader in prison reform. Since 2011, its crime rate has fallen and fewer Texans are behind bars (down from 156,000 in 2011 to 146,000). Texas is now on track to closing its eighth prison

facility in six years by the end of September 2017, four of which shuttered this year saving the state a projected $49.5 million.  Yet when Ron Adkins appeared before Judge Newsom in 1997, he found no such mercy. Texas is a “three strikes” law state, which aims to keep repeat offenders locked up for life. As a serial offender during an era of “tough on crime” sentencing guidelines, the jury hammered him with a whopping 495-year sentence for a string of home burglaries: 99 years for each of the five counts on which he was charged. CONTINUE