TCJC In the News

Press Contact: For all media inquiries, please contact Lisa Koetz, Bloom Communications for TCJC, at or (512) 535-5066.


Most Texas voters support criminal justice reform

April 20, 2017

More than three-fourths of Texas voters believe 17-year-old offenders should be treated as juveniles rather than adults, and an even greater number support alternatives to incarceration for some nonviolent low-level drug-related crimes, a newly released survey revealed.

Read the rest of this article at The Baptist Standard.

In Texas, Pattern of Arrest for 17-Year-Olds Is Closer to Juveniles than to Adults

April 20, 2017

Texas is one of seven states that automatically classify 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system. That’s important because once a 17-year-old enters the courtroom as an adult, they are cut off from the stated rehabilitative goals and resources of the juvenile justice system.

Read the rest of this article at The Chronicle of Social Change.

Study supports call to keep minors out of adult courts and prisons

April 12, 2017

Although the criminal justice system in Texas treats 17-year-olds as adults rather than juveniles, their arrest rate—and types of crimes for which they are arrested—more closely resembles 16-year-olds than adults, a new study revealed. Criminal justice reform advocates insisted the data supports their call to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction.

Read the rest of this article at the Baptist Standard.

New Analysis of Texas Crime Data Suggests 17-Year-Olds Should Be Treated As Juveniles, Not Adults

April 11, 2017

Seventeen-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as adults in the Texas criminal justice system. A new data analysis from a broad coalition of groups working to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Texas from 17 to 18 finds that 17-year-olds are arrested at a rate and for non-violent, low-level offenses that closely resemble those of 16-year-olds rather than older youth or adults.

Read the rest of this press release here.

New state bills proposed to disallow arrests for offenses punishable by fine

March 22, 2017

If you're caught speeding, chances are you're issued a ticket and from there you're free to go. But in Texas, an officer can arrest you. That's on a case-by-case basis -- and in Houston -- the Houston Police Department requires an officer to get approval from a supervisor first. That could change under two bills working through the state Capitol in Austin.

Read the rest of this article at Click2Houston.

Bills That Could Have Prevented Sandra Bland's Arrest Get Hearing

March 22, 2017

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety heard public testimony on both HB567 and HB574, two bills that would eliminate the authority of police officers to arrest people on offenses that are punishable by fines only — including minor traffic offenses such as speeding and, as in Sandra Bland's case, failure to use a turn signal.

Read the rest of this article at Hosuton Press.

Texas Advocates Show Support for Alternatives to Incarceration

March 16, 2017

A diverse group of more than 100 Texas legislators, community leaders, addiction experts, entertainers, inspirational speakers, and people impacted by the justice system convened on Friday, March 10, at the State Capitol to raise awareness for substance use disorder and support for treatment and rehabilitative opportunities as an alternative to incarceration in Texas.

Read the rest of this press release here.

Two Smiths, one quest

March 15, 2017

Doug Smith and Reggie Smith didn’t have much in common until they both went to prison. They are now deeply involved in a movement of formerly incarcerated individuals advocating for criminal justice reform.

Read the rest of this article at The Utopian.

Harris County to place public defenders at bail hearings

March 14, 2017

Harris County commissioners on Tuesday approved a pilot program to make public defenders available at bail hearings, a step aimed at retooling a criminal justice system that has increasingly drawn criticism for jailing thousands of poor, low-risk offenders.

Read the rest of this article at the Houston Chronicle.

Drug charges still possible in Memorial Villages after county says it will not prosecute

March 13, 2017

On the surface, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg's new marijuana diversion program, which allows for possession of four ounces or less without criminal charges, may seem like a green light to travel with small amounts of the drug throughout Harris County. But if you're caught in the Memorial Villages, dreams of lighting up without fear of consequences could go up in smoke.

Read the rest of this article at the Houston Chronicle.

Event at Capitol advocates for rehab over prison

March 10, 2017

Each year in Texas 30,000 people go to prison for having small amounts of drugs on them and it's costing tax payers millions of dollars. Now, one lawmaker and a criminal justice organization are trying to change that.

Read the rest of this article at KVUE ABC.

Nonprofit Aims to Reroute Drug Users to Recovery Instead of Jail

March 10, 2017

On Friday, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition expressed faith in the seemingly irredeemable at a day-long program meant to humanize substance abuse. The audience at the State Capitol heard from people who have walked the difficult path to recovery.

Read the rest of this article at Time Warner Cable News.

Study finds Harris County leads nation in exonerations

March 7, 2017

A new study has found that Harris County leads the country in exonerations, turning loose 48 people in 2016 alone. That's because its crime labs take an added precaution most others don't: testing the materials seized from drug defendants even after they enter guilty pleas.

Read the rest of this article at the Texas Tribune.

Harris County eyes public defenders at bail hearings

February 28, 2017

Harris County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to develop a pilot program that would make public defenders present at bail hearings, a move aimed at reducing what officials say is the unnecessary jailing of thousands of defendants because they can't afford bail or are unfamiliar with the legal process. The pilot could lead to Harris County becoming the first county in Texas to make legal representation available at all hearings where bail is set.

Read the rest of this article at the Houston Chronicle.

Even in Texas, Mass Imprisonment Is Going Out of Style

February 14, 2017

It promises to be a bleak four years for liberals, who will spend it trying — and, most likely, failing — to defend health care, women’s rights, climate change action and other good things. But on one serious problem, continued progress is not only possible, it’s probable. That is reducing incarceration.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times.

Coalition wants minors out of adult prisons

February 14, 2017

A broad-based coalition that includes the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission insists tough-on-crime Texas should get smart on crime by raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18. Texas is one of only seven states where 17-year-old offenders are treated as adults.

Read the rest of this article at The Baptist Standard.

Lawmaker seeks to end Texas prosecution of 17-year-olds as adults

February 10, 2017

As more states come in line with the federal standards that mark the age of adulthood at 18, state Rep. Gene Wu believes that this is the year Texas will stop prosecuting 17-year-olds as adults. Wu and another Houston Democratic lawmaker have filed a pair of bills that would do just that.

Read the rest of this article at the Austin American-Statesman.

“If Someone is Bringing Drugs into Mar-a-Lago, Police Could Try to Seize it.”

February 8, 2017

The comment was startling, even for President Donald Trump. In a meeting with county sheriffs this week, the president suggested he would “destroy” the career of a Texas state senator who wants to curtail the ability of law enforcement to seize money, vehicles, and property suspected of being used in crime.

Read the rest of this article at the Marshall Project.

Local Advocates Show Support For “Raise The Age” Initiative

February 2, 2017

A diverse group of more than 200 local legislators, advocates, students, and faith leaders convened this week to learn more about the juvenile justice system and to demonstrate their support and solidarity for efforts to “Raise the Age” of juvenile jurisdiction in Texas.

Read the rest of this press release at

States are raising age for adult prosecution back to 18

February 1, 2017

Miguel Moll had a choice: Would he be a beast or a victim? Moll was 17 when he was taken into custody on suspicion of joyriding. He’d been a passenger in a stolen car. It was exactly the kind of dumb thing teenagers do; but under Texas law, 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as adults.

Read the rest of this article at the ABA Journal.