TCJC In the News

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


We’re glad this segment of Texas’ population is shrinking

February 25, 2020

Even as Texas celebrates the good news of its growing statewide population, there is one population segment that is shrinking, and that is also good news. The number of people incarcerated in Texas has dropped by more than 15,000 over the past decade. Last year alone, the number fell by 4,000 to about 140,000 prisoners, according to a report from the Legislative Budget Board.

Read the rest of this article at Dallas Morning News.

How Attys Can Help Dismantle The School-To-Prison Pipeline

February 23, 2020

On Feb. 6, two armed police officers in Florida walked a 6-year-old girl out of school and into the back seat of a cruiser. They’d been called to take her to a mental institution after she allegedly threw chairs in her elementary school classroom. Body camera footage later published by a local news station shows the girl calmly walking to the car. Police can be heard discussing how school officials must have overreacted.

Read the rest of this article from Law360.

Study Finds Stark Racial Disparities for Low-Level Drug Offenses in Travis County, Texas

February 21, 2020

A coalition of criminal justice reform groups has found significant racial disparities in arrests and incarceration rates for people in possession of a gram or less of controlled substances in Travis County, Texas. A new report on the findings comes as the county’s largest police department, in Austin, faces accusations of institutional racism and overzealous policing of people for drug use, even in cases where both the City Council and the county prosecutor have said they will not prosecute.

Read the rest of this article from The Appeal.

Texas Debuts Special Clemency Application for Victims of Sex Trafficking and Domestic Abuse

February 21, 2020

It may be a small step, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is putting a little of his money where his mouth is on criminal justice reform. Thursday afternoon, the governor announced a specialized clemency application process for Texas Department of Corrections inmates who were victims of sex trafficking or domestic violence prior to their being locked up.

Read the rest of this article from the Dallas Observer.

Gov. Abbott establishes clemency application for survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking

February 21, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott rolled out a new clemency application specifically for survivors of human trafficking or domestic violence Thursday afternoon. The new application, launched in coordination with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, will include a specific section for applicants to provide a statement about experiences with human trafficking or domestic violence.

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

As the Texas prison population shrinks, the state is closing two more lockups

February 20, 2020

Following a declining inmate population and dangerous understaffing in Texas prisons, the state is closing two of its more than 100 lockups. State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, announced Thursday that the Garza East prison in Beeville and the Jester I Unit in Sugar Land would be closing soon. 

Read the rest of this article from the Texas Tribune.

Travis County told to ‘do better’ and invest in drug treatment over arrests, report says

February 19, 2020

Authorities must take a different approach towards addressing drug use in Travis County, according to the authors of a newly released report. Earlier this month, the four criminal justice groups involved in a study into drug possession arrests revealed some of their findings.

Read the rest of this article from KXAN.

Report: Travis County drug possession arrests disproportionately harm Black residents

February 18, 2020

Today, researchers from four Texas-based organizations released their full review of 2,900 drug possession arrests in Travis County from June 2017 to May 2018. The data used to create their final report reveals troubling police practices that harm communities, exacerbate racial disparities in arrests and jail detention, and fail to address the underlying needs of people who use drugs.

Read the rest of this press release here.

Low-Level Drug Possession Arrests Are Hurting Travis County, Report Finds

February 18, 2020

Low-level drug possession arrests are ineffective and harmful to people who need community-based help, rather than jail time, a new report concludes. The report, released Tuesday by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Grassroots Leadership, the Texas Harm Reduction Alliance and the UT Law Civil Rights Clinic, analyzed Travis County data that found people of color are disproportionately arrested for these kinds of crimes.

Read the rest of this article from Texas Public Radio.

'Zero-Tolerance' Discipline Disproportionately Affects Students Of Color, With Disabilities

February 17, 2020

Texas’ most vulnerable students are unequally punished for disruptive, unruly behavior. Punitive disciplinary policies often lead to pushing students with disabilities and students of color out of the classroom, limiting their ability to succeed academically. 

Read the rest of this article from Texas Public Radio.

Opinion: The War on Drugs Got It Wrong

February 13, 2020

When I was arrested for my first drug offense, I was 19 years old. The War on Drugs told elected officials that Black people like me were the villains of the story and needed to be locked away in the name of public safety. Along with millions across the country, I was deemed disposable. For the next 20 years, I couldn't find a job or find a place to live in, and I panicked every time I was pulled over for fear that once again that disposable label would be placed on my forehead.

Read the rest of this...

Students Ask San Antonio Independent School District Board to Rein in Campus Discipline by Police

February 11, 2020

San Antonio Independent School District students converged on Monday night’s school board meeting to demand changes to the district's Student Bill of Rights — among them, that police step back from campus discipline.

The district adopted a Student Bill of Rights late last year that says students should be informed about disciplinary practices and that such practices be applied consistently.

Read the rest of this article from San Antonio Current.

Travis County District Attorney candidates talk about the war on drugs

February 10, 2020

Grassroots LeadershipTexas Criminal Justice Coalition and Texas Harm Reduction Alliance held a forum Sunday to educate the community on candidates running for Travis County District Attorney and present questions to them. 

Read the rest of this article from KVUE.

SAISD students ask for limits on school policing, amendments to their Bill of Rights

February 10, 2020

A group of high school activists in the San Antonio Independent School District converged on Monday night’s school board meeting to ask for less police involvement in school discipline and other amendments to the district’s student code of conduct and Student Bill of Rights. “Students have felt like they’re in a prison when really they’re in a school,” said Bella Garcia, 18, a senior at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, at a press conference before the meeting.

Read the rest of this article from the San Antonio Express-News.

Travis County District Attorney candidates face questions on drugs, race, and the criminal justice system

February 9, 2020

All three candidate vying to serve as Travis County’s District Attorney came face-to-face at a forum on Sunday afternoon. They are competing in what could be one of the most contentious local races in the March 3 primary election.

Read the rest of this article from KXAN.

Making the Decision to Keep Defendants Behind Bars

February 9, 2020

$1.5 million. That was the bond amount set for 37-year-old Jonathan Fulton Smith, who was arrested in connection to a 2018 Bogata arson/homicide case at the end of January. So, who makes the call on a multi-million dollar number — and what do bail bonds do, anyways?

Read the rest of this article from The Paris News.

ICYMI: Texas Criminal Justice Coalition Releases Comprehensive Report on Restorative Justice, School Discipline in Texas

February 7, 2020

Yesterday, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) released a landmark report on restorative justice and school discipline in Texas. “Reversing the Pipeline to Prison in Texas: How to Ensure Safe Schools AND Safe Students” was released in conjunction with a student-led conversation on school discipline in San Antonio.

Read the rest of this press release here.

Three Texas inmates have died at the hands of prison officers as use of force continues to rise

February 7, 2020

Gary Ryan was less than three months away from getting out of prison — and his family was doing everything right. His brother-in-law lined up a job for him at his company. His nephew Corey Anderson planned to give him his old truck. Anderson also fixed up a house on a family property where his uncle could live.

Read the rest of this article from the Texas Tribune.

‘Zero-Tolerance’ Discipline Puts Thousands of Texas Schoolkids on Pipeline to Prison: Report

February 7, 2020

Thousands of Texas schoolchildren—many of them African Americans— are victimized by “zero tolerance” school discipline policies that land them in the criminal justice system, says the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC).

Read the rest of this article from The Crime Report.

New reports spotlight racial disparities in motor vehicle stops, marijuana possession arrests in Austin, Travis County

February 5, 2020

People of color in Austin are policed at disproportionately higher rates than their percentage of the local population, and racial disparities in motor vehicle stops and arrests are widening, according to two new reports.

Read the rest of this article from Community Impact.