Seventeen-year-olds convicted of a crime in Texas often end up in the adult prison system but one organization is hoping that changes. The "age of responsibility" is the age that dictates how old someone must be to be treated as an adult. In Texas, the age of responsibility is 17. The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) says that age is too young.
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.
Criminal justice groups are once again pushing efforts to “Raise the Age” of criminal responsibility. During the 86th Legislature, Texas legislators filed bills related to the way the state currently treats 17-year olds as adults when they commit crimes. House Bill 344 was a bill that would’ve raised the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18.
The number of incarcerated women in the United States has exploded over the past 30 years, growing at nearly twice the rate of incarcerated men. This problem is particularly acute in Texas, which now incarcerates more women than any other state in the country, and where the number of women in prison has risen by nearly 1,000% since 1980.
Next week, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) will host an event highlighting the youth, families, and justice practitioners impacted by Texas’ failure to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18. Texas is one of four states left in the United States to “raise the age.” The event, hosted during Youth Justice Action Month, will feature people in TCJC’s newest report through a photo gallery and on-site speakers.
Tears often filled the eyes of the women in this Texas prison town as they prepared for their upcoming release from the system after years or even decades of incarceration. The women sometimes wiped them away as they recalled trauma and grief they’d long ignored in a harsh prison environment. But their eyes also welled up when they expressed gratitude for a new program they hope will keep them from ever coming back to this or any other lockup.
Anthony Graves was wrongly convicted of murder at 26 years old. He spent the next 18 years on death row, appealing that conviction until his exoneration and release from prison in 2010. His story stands as a saga of injustice that can too easily occur in contemporary America.
The red-white-and-blue signs advertising Houston City Council and mayoral runs are everywhere in Houston as the November election date fast approaches. But when was the last time you saw someone asking you to register to vote in Texas?
Within the last 12 months, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office has sought execution dates for Dexter Johnson, despite evidence of his intellectual disability. Though the district court set two execution dates—both at the request of the DA’s office—federal courts have twice granted Johnson stays.
Last week, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) released a guide to positive youth and adult justice legislation that became law in Texas in 2019. The guide, which is organized by bill area, is free and available online at the TCJC website.
On a Friday evening, Judge Shannon Baldwin is at home with her toddler daughter and taking time out to be interviewed. “That’s probably just my boring life,” Baldwin says with a laugh. But her life has been anything but uneventful. The 49-year-old former criminal defense attorney is one of 17 Black women newly elected to judgeships in Harris County. Six of those women, including Baldwin, were elected to Harris County’s County Criminal Court system.
He had spent 17 of his 46 years behind bars, locked in a pattern of addiction and crime that led to 16 prison terms. Now, Meko Lincoln pushed a cart of cleaning supplies at the reentry house to which he had been paroled in December, determined to provide for his grandchildren in a way he failed to do as a father.
Tears and cheers filled the gymnasium Saturday at the Lockhart Correctional Facility as more than 100 family members, friends and officers celebrated the graduation of 14 women from Austin Community College’s certified production technician program.
A vote on changes to the San Antonio Independent School District’s Student Code of Conduct was tabled Monday by its board after a coalition of social justice advocacy groups said it didn’t adequately address the school-to-prison pipeline.
Six summers ago, Netflix introduced 105 million people to a group of women they typically sought to avoid—drug dealers, murderers, car thieves and more. Now one of the most popular shows on the channel, Orange is the New Black (OITNB) has made magic with its ability to humanize dastardly acts by providing backstory to crime—making it seem less like behavioral deviance and more like the understandable result of poverty, poor education, mental illness and misogyny. In many ways, Orange is the New Black turned the “bad girl” into folklore.
Allison Franklin still thinks about the transgender women who helped her during her 10 years as a prostitute. In those years in and out of jail, Franklin — now an LGBTQ advocate — and the people she was with were just trying to survive. Along with prostitution, some sold drugs or tried to recruit others to join them. It’s a narrative all too familiar for those members of the LGBTQ community caught in a spiral after incarceration, ending up there after committing crimes just to stay alive or find a place to sleep.
A coalition of advocates and lawyers on Friday morning asked Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg to develop a list of police deemed too untrustworthy to rely on in court — and to release the names publicly to rebuild community trust on the heels of a botched narcotics raid that left a Houston couple dead earlier this year.
Texas' 86th Legislative session came to a close last month with criminal justice reform advocates lamenting lost opportunities like the Sandra Bland Act — which died in the House of Representatives thanks to what Texas Monthly called “a fit of idiocy and confusion”— and the failure of marijuana sentencing reform. A session that began with cautious optimism for policies like bail reform, pretrial diversion programming, limiting three-strikes rules, and expanding air conditioning in sweltering prisons ended with bills failing left and right.
The New York State Bar Association is taking a hard look at the state’s parole system as lawmakers have so far fallen short on reforms to address the state’s high rate of revoking parole, keeping a fire under efforts to follow other jurisdictions that have slashed parole-related prison stints.
For Allison Franklin, the Texas criminal justice system seemed designed to return her to prison rather than prepare her to make it in the free world. "The only thing I was ever released with was my prison ID, my offender ID," she said. "And you can't apply for a job with that."
Rodney Adams had a job hauling luggage for airlines before bereavements and a back injury took their toll and he was convicted of drink driving in 2012. Just two days after his arrival at the Gurney unit in eastern Texas, Adams had a seizure and collapsed in the August heat. His body temperature was nearly 110F (43.3C).