TCJC In the News

Press Contact: For all media inquiries, please contact Madison Kaigh, Communications Manager, at or (512) 441-8123, ext. 108.


Letter Calls on San Antonio ISD to Reevaluate School Police Funding

June 10, 2020

Calls throughout the nation to defund the police have reverberated in one of San Antonio’s largest school districts, as several social justice groups called on San Antonio Independent School District to divert resources from its police force and hire more mental health professionals and social workers.

Read the rest of this article from the Rivard Report.

Lawyers who donate to judicial campaigns get more indigent defense appointments, study finds

June 2, 2020

A study of lawyer appointments has found that judges were more likely to appoint lawyers who had contributed to their election campaigns to represent indigent defendants than they were to appoint nondonors.

Read the rest of this article from the ABA Journal.

Campaign Funds for Judges Warp Criminal Justice, Study Finds

June 1, 2020

Nearly 60 years ago, the Supreme Court decided the case of Clarence Gideon, a Florida drifter accused of breaking into a poolroom who was tried and convicted without a lawyer. In a unanimous ruling, Gideon v. Wainwright, the court transformed criminal justice in America, announcing that poor people accused of serious crimes were entitled to lawyers paid for by the government.

Read the rest of this article from the New York Times.

Elected Judges Pick Donors as Defense Lawyers, Study Says

June 1, 2020

Nearly 60 years ago, the Supreme Court decided that poor people accused of serious crimes were entitled to lawyers paid for by the government. The court did not say how the lawyers should be chosen, and many states settled on a system that invites abuses, letting the judge appoint the defendant’s lawyer. That system has been criticized for promoting cronyism and dampening the zeal of lawyers who want to stay in judges’ good graces.

Read the rest of this article from The Crime Report.

Ten thousand Texas prisoners approved for parole sit behind bars amid coronavirus pandemic

May 28, 2020

Orlando Vences says prison saved his life. Behind bars, he reconciled with his family and got his GED. Vences said he dropped weight and realized he was destined to do more than just sell drugs. But now, on the verge of his release, he is afraid the system that helped turn his life around could instead mean his death.

Read the rest of this article from the Dallas Morning News.

New Report Shows Why People Given Extreme Prison Sentences as Children Deserve a “Second Look”

May 27, 2020

Today, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) released a new report focused on addressing rehabilitated youth who are serving extreme sentences in adult prisons with little hope of ever being released. “Second Look: For Justice, Safety & Savings” provides a comprehensive background on the history of extreme juvenile sentencing and the extent to which Texas is a harsh outlier.

Read the rest of this press release here.

Protesters outside of the Texas Governor's mansion call for improved conditions in TDCJ

Families of Texas prisoners call for release as COVID-19 affects thousands behind bars

May 23, 2020

As the coronavirus ravages Texas prisons, family members are calling for the release of their loved ones who are near the end of their sentence or who may be eligible for parole. Dozens of demonstrators gathered on the State Capitol lawn on Saturday outside the Governor’s Mansion, asking Gov. Greg Abbott to use his powers and direct the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to release their loved ones.

Read the rest of this article from KVUE.

How COVID-19 Upended Texas Prisons

May 13, 2020

Two months ago, as the threat of COVID-19 began to rapidly alter life on the outside, Sam says changes were happening more slowly inside the Wynne Unit, a state prison in Huntsville, where he’s currently incarcerated. Even as cities banned mass gatherings and told people to stay home, life in lockup remained mostly the same. That is, until late March, when the first Texas prisoners and prison employees began testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Read the rest of this article from the Texas Observer.

Black Mama’s Bail Out and the Abolition of Cash Bail

May 8, 2020

Clutching a clear plastic bag of belongings, Lisa Oxendine walks slowly out of the Durham County Detention Facility and into a crowd awaiting her arrival. “I’m so glad to meet you,” Serena Sebring says, handing her a bouquet of bright flowers. “Welcome home.”

Read the rest of this article from Ms Magazine.

Texas Health Officials Undercount COVID-19 Cases by Excluding Some Prisoners Who Tested Positive

May 7, 2020

COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in Texas prisons in recent weeks, with the virus infecting and killing incarcerated people and staff, and likely spreading into nearby communities through the thousands of workers who travel back and forth each day. Yet some confirmed COVID-19 cases in state prisons are being excluded from the Texas health department tally with little explanation from government officials. 

Read the rest of this article from the Texas Observer.

Texas criminal justice advocates: Jails, prisons 'epicenters' of coronavirus as more than 2,000 test positive

May 5, 2020

When news of the coronavirus swept across the globe, Jay Jenkins, Harris County project attorney for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, said one place immediately came to mind as a deadly hot spot: jails. “In a pandemic, a jail is one of the most dangerous places to be,” he said.

Read the rest of this article from Community Impact.

Study: Juvenile Incarcerations Drop in Coronavirus Pandemic

April 27, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S. last month, the number of young people in local secure detention centers fell by 24%, according to a new survey by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Some juvenile justice experts would like to see the reduced rates become permanent.

Read the rest of this article from Public News Service.

Activists call for chief’s firing, mayor demands review after fatal police shooting

April 27, 2020

Activists are demanding that Austin Police Chief Brian Manley be terminated, and Mayor Steve Adler on Monday called for an investigation in the wake of a police officer’s fatal shooting of a man. Michael Ramos, 42, was killed Friday evening after an officer shot at him as he slowly drove away from police outside an apartment complex on South Pleasant Valley Road, video taken by witnesses shows.

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

New Report Provides Snapshot of COVID-19’s Impact on Harris County Justice System

April 23, 2020

 A new report from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) provides a snapshot of COVID-19’s impact on the Harris County justice system. The report analyzes population data beginning on March 19, 2020, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a statewide health emergency.

Read the rest of this press release here.

Houstonians with disabilities know the only way through isolation is through

April 20, 2020

In the midst of a pandemic, examples of mental fortitude and courage can be found. Yet social media is filled with anxious people wondering who is a coronavirus carrier, who can be trusted, how to get through this time of relative isolation. We are social creatures, so the longer shelter-in-place orders stretch on, the more our untested isolation skills will be frayed.

Read the rest of this article from ReNew Houston.

From Jail to the Streets: One Texan’s Story During COVID-19

April 15, 2020

With the novel coronavirus upending society, Rachel Schuyler felt like a sitting duck. At the Bexar County lockup in downtown San Antonio, she lacked supplies like hand sanitizer and cringed each time a dormmate coughed. On April 3, she was finally released—one day after county officials announced a deputy at the jail had tested positive for the virus, the first of at least 23 cases among staff and inmates at the facility.

Read the rest of this article from the Texas Observer.

Many Texas prisoners have been approved for parole but can't walk free yet. Advocates say coronavirus should change that.

April 14, 2020

The Texas parole board had decided: Stephen Shane Smith was going to get out of prison. The 40-year-old was less than a year into a five-year sentence for a drug conviction when he was approved for early release in January. The only thing standing between him and his freedom was completing an in-prison life skills program.

Read the rest of this article from the Texas Tribune.

Travis County Jail Population Continues to Drop

April 7, 2020

Last month, Travis County criminal justice officials felt fairly successful in their efforts to reduce the overall jail population and to provide personal recognizance (PR) bond releases – that is, not levying cash bail – for most people accused of non-violent offenses.

Read the rest of this article from the Austin Chronicle.

Risk infection or violate probation? Residents face dilemma at Fort Worth rehab center

April 6, 2020

Until last week, Brittney Cardenas was one of about 150 residents at Fort Worth’s Cenikor complex, an addiction rehabilitation center that treats its residents through what it calls work therapy. It’s in a low-slung brick building in an industrialized area just south of John Peter Smith Hosptial. 

Read the rest of this article from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Statement Regarding Governor Abbott Suspending Jail Release for Texans

April 2, 2020

In response to an executive order issued by Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition released the following statement: “Contrary to the advice of public health experts, legal experts, and sheriffs across the country, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Sunday that suspends basic constitutional protections for people detained in county jail and puts thousands of people – many of whom have chronic illness – at grave risk of contracting COVID-19."

Read the rest of this article from Dallas Weekly.