Cox Smith Matthews, Inc.
Ryan Cox is an attorney with San Antonio’s largest law firm, Cox Smith Matthews, Inc. Cox received a Bachelor of Arts in government from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007 and a Juris Doctorate from the St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2010. During law school, Cox worked with the prosecutor’s office in his hometown of Corpus Christi, interned with the Supreme Court of Texas, served as an editor for the St. Mary’s Law Journal, and extensively studied international and comparative criminal procedure.
Prior to joining his current firm in the fall of 2013, he served as a law clerk to United States District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio, and as a briefing attorney for Justice Gina Benavides at the Texas Thirteenth Court of Appeals in Edinburg, Texas. In these roles, he regularly assisted the courts with sentencing issues, appeals, criminal trials, and prisoner civil rights cases.
Cox has published in the areas of Texas criminal procedure and international criminal justice, and he is working with professors at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oslo on a grant proposal to study Norwegian prison reform. He is also currently on the board of directors for the San Antonio Young Lawyers Association, a student mentor for the King William Association’s Scholar Program, and stays active in bar and community activities.
What can we learn from the world’s “most humane” prison?
Texas incarcerates more people per capita than any country in the world, and suffers from a staggering 60% recidivism (re-offending) rate. This means that almost 3% of all people in Texas are currently under some type of supervision, and more than half of those will be re-arrested after release. This system of mass incarceration is unsustainable and extremely detrimental to Texas communities. Though there are many causes for the explosion in incarceration rates since the 1980’s, there must be a better way to prepare people for release from these institutions.
In Norway, a country that incarcerates its citizens at less than 8% the rate of Texas, a focus on rehabilitation has helped the country achieve a remarkably low 20% recidivism rate. The Halden high-security prison, which Time Magazine recently called “The Most Humane Prison in The World,” has adopted policies to better prepare people for reintegration into society. Some of the successful policies at Halden are community/college atmospheres where “pupils” (not “prisoners”) learn meaningful job skills and interact with guards and staff as peers. Instead of bars, Halden has multi-million dollar art installations and impressive green spaces. Why can’t Texas create innovative and rehabilitation-focused prisons with shorter, more effective sentences?
Linked In: Ryan V Cox