Texas’ 88th Legislative Session runs from January 10 to May 29, 2023. TCJE is pursuing policies that reflect the community’s demand for safety, wellness, and success for kids and adults.
After a tough 87th Legislative Session, we took a step back to reflect and regroup. We’ve been holding community events, collecting stories, soliciting feedback from people impacted by the state’s criminal punishment system – including people still on the inside – and engaging with the works of advocates who have gone before and paved the way for us. Our work in 2023 seeks to elevate these calls for change.
SUPPORT FOR YOUTH PRISON CLOSURES
Texas’ youth prison system is in crisis and near collapse. As leaders investigate the inhumane conditions at state secure facilities, we have a real opportunity to overhaul Texas’ entire approach to youth “justice.” That means prioritizing supports for kids in their communities and schools.
WORK TO IMPROVE PAROLE, EMERGENCY PRISON CONDITIONS, AND REENTRY
Our Statewide Leadership Council has 3 top priorities for 2023:
- Common-sense parole, which would give people earlier access to programming – like substance use treatment and cognitive intervention – prior to their parole review.
- An emergency management plan for storms, pandemics, and other events in Texas prisons to ensure that incarcerated people have the support and supplies needed to make it through declared disasters without experiencing inadequate or dangerous conditions.
- Criminal record-clearing reforms, called Clean Slate and New Wings, which would expand access to orders of nondisclosure for certain offenses, as well as automate the process in certain instances.
SUPPORT FOR WOMEN’S JUSTICE
Women in Texas prisons have fewer programming options, as well as less access to programs, than incarcerated men – leaving them with greater challenges on reentry. Our Texas Women’s Justice Coalition is fighting for women to be able to access a full range of programming options within 45 days of arriving at their facilities.
FIGHT AGAINST PUNITIVE POLICIES
Legislators are continuing to file and pursue legislation that harms our most marginalized communities, including by enhancing existing penalties and creating new crimes.
TCJE is fighting back against this legislation, which is contrary to our values – including genuine safety, healing, justice, dignity, equity, anti-racism, and liberation – and runs directly counter to our commitment to the following overarching principles:
✓ We must REVERSE the pipeline that’s pushing people into the criminal punishment system. We want to address not just incarceration, but arrest, pretrial detention, probation, and more. That means engaging with other, intersecting systems that wrap people into the criminal punishment system.
✓ We must SHRINK the number of people who are currently under correctional control or who are impacted by prior system involvement. We must reduce the population of people in prisons and jails, as well as the number of people under supervision, like probation and parole. Furthermore, we must give people the tools and opportunities to overcome the harsh, long-term consequences of a conviction.
✓ We must INVEST in approaches outside the criminal punishment system that support individual and community wellbeing. We must shift investments away from the criminal punishment system and towards meaningful supports: programs and services that can help people address their needs – like substance use disorder, mental health problems, past trauma, or lack of housing. Addressing the root causes of crime will ultimately make our communities safer.
✓ We must PROTECT the rights and wellbeing of people behind bars. We must ensure the humane treatment of people who are incarcerated – preserving their dignity and their safety.