The discussion around criminal justice reform in Harris County is complex and often heated. Stakeholders disagree on what that change should look like and how to go about it. The issue of how to handle repeat offenders is a major sticking point. According to the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, more than 70,000 people return to the community from Texas prisons each year.
TCJC In the News
Press Contact: For all media inquiries, please contact Madison Kaigh, Communications Manager, at mkaigh@TexasCJC.org or (512) 441-8123, ext. 108.
Since November, eight defendants fresh out of jail on bond have walked into state District Judge Ramona Franklin’s court and been sent right back to jail. Instead of standing for a routine court hearing in a first step in their criminal court cases, they ended up back in sheriff’s custody after Franklin revoked their bail and ordered them back behind bars, sometimes with no lawyer present for the defendant.
I got started in youth advocacy in the area of police brutality around the death of Trayvon Martin. My parents had to sit my brother and me down and have that conversation of how, as a Black family and as a Black woman with a Black brother, we have to interact with the world differently - especially with police officers.
03 Greedo has spent the last two years in a Texas prison but is still the beating heart of L.A.’s rap scene
It’s the last day of June and 03 Greedo is on the other end of the phone speaking from inside a sweatbox Texas state prison where he’s spent the last two years. When the Los Angeles street rap seer wakes up tomorrow on the first day of July, he’ll have lost all of his inmate privileges.
As the national movement around justice system transformation continues to swell, this month the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) released two new data dashboards that make justice system information accessible to the public.
As it's commonly told, in 1920, the 19th amendment granted American women the ability to vote. But the reality is more complicated. In fact, the amendment was ratified in part because of the exclusionary rhetoric behind it; the women’s suffrage movement was undergirded by anti-Blackness and racism.
The Texas Criminal Court Data Dashboard - a project of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, January Advisors, Microsoft, and Norflet Progress Fund - has expanded its dataset. It now includes court data from Harris, Dallas, Bexar and Travis Counties, and statewide data from the Office of Court Administration going back 10 years. This lets one do a lot of work.
Reginald Moore, Sugar Land 95 activist and “a people’s historian,” leaves behind a legacy of endurance
In February 2018, construction for the Fort Bend Independent School District's new technology building was underway. After laying a drainage pipe, workers noticed something buried in the dirt — a bone. Archaeologists rushed to the scene, where they discovered a total of 95 bodies which became collectively known as the Sugar Land 95.
The novel SARS-CoV-2 has roared through the American landscape leaving physical, emotional, and economic devastation in its wake. By early July, known infections in this country exceeded 3 million, while deaths topped 135,000. Home to just over 4 percent of the global population, the United States accounts for more than a quarter of all fatalities from Covid-19, the disease produced by the coronavirus.
In April, as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning to swell across North Texas, Harry Jacobs was booked into the Dallas County Jail on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Jacobs, 22, was offered probation and scheduled to leave jail June 19 to formally accept his plea deal in a courtroom. But he didn’t make it home until 13 days later, the result of administrative breakdowns regarding his quarantine status that have the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the judge in the case pointing fingers about who’s to blame.
When Marsha Madrigal was in middle school, she thought it was normal to see her classmates in handcuffs. But she knows now that not all schools have a significant police presence, and the odds of seeing your classmates arrested go up if you are Black, like she is.
When I first met him in 2016, Reginald Moore was deeply frustrated. The retired longshoreman had spent much of the previous two decades trying—without much success—to bring attention to the brutal convict leasing system that flourished in Fort Bend County in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Arrests that land young people in the Texas juvenile-justice system have dropped since the coronavirus pandemic began, mirroring a national trend, according to a new analysis by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Alycia Castillo is a youth-justice policy analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and said the closure of schools because of COVID-19 is likely responsible, because many kids are arrested for classroom violations.
San Antonio Independent School District trustees Monday approved a $636 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, counting on a promise from the state education commissioner that funding rules released Tuesday would keep the district whole and assuming flat enrollment based on registration rates.
As the school board finalizes its FY2021 budget, racial justice advocates are calling on the Austin Independent School District to move money away from policing. The Austin Justice Coalition and other groups are asking the board to divest from what they consider "excessive funding" for school police departments – that includes not filling vacancies or increasing the number of school resource officers.
The Austin school board early Tuesday morning approved a $1.65 million budget, which dips heavily into district reserves to cover a $47.6 million shortfall. The 2020-21 budget sets aside spending $33 million in coronavirus-related expenses, including technology for remote learning, training materials and personal protective equipment.
A recent study shows that when appointing attorneys to represent indigent clients, elected judges in Harris County (Houston) were far more likely to choose lawyers who had donated to their campaigns. In these “pay to play” cases, the study further found that defendants were more likely to end up in prison or jail, and received longer sentences on average.
Burbank High School history teacher Luke Amphlett is a member of PODER-The Social Justice Caucus of The San Antonio Alliance. The group is made up of rank-and-file educators who are education advocates and social justice in schools. “We should be very intentional about our priorities when we’re talking about school spending,” Amphlett said. “And asking the question, is school policing the most effective way to spend those tax dollars?”
Prisons and jails have returned the highest coronavirus case positivity rate in the state of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news conference this week. The number of positive prison cases has increased by 568% since May 1.
Cities around the country including Austin, Atlanta and Oklahoma City, have released body camera videos of controversial police encounters in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody as there are more insistent calls for more transparency from law enforcement. Body-worn cameras for all Houston police officers were introduced four years ago, but the public has rarely, if ever, been able to view any footage.