Although the Texas Legislature won’t reconvene for its next regular session until January 2025, decision-makers are already considering issues that could impact Texans for years to come. One key topic over the next 18 months is the state’s decision whether to continue (and fund) key justice-related agencies as part of its “Sunset” review process. In today’s Beginner’s Guide, we’ll share what Sunset is, why it’s important, and how you can use your voice to make a difference!
Parole & Reentry
As the seasons change and hopes of temperatures dropping become real, I have begun to look back on the incredible journey that has led me to where I am today. Hispanic Heritage Month holds a special place in my heart; it is not only a time to celebrate our rich cultural heritage but also an opportunity to share stories of resilience and rebirth.
Last updated: June 19, 2023
Texas’ 2023 Legislative Session is officially over, but our work isn’t done yet! Governor Abbott has until June 18 to sign bills, veto (reject) them, or let them pass into law without a signature. Now that the dust has settled, we’ve identified about 40 positive justice-related bills that still have a chance of becoming law (and a handful have already been approved by the Governor).
I was just a teenager when I first started using drugs. After feeling the effects of drugs for the first time, I remember thinking, “This must be what happiness is.” I had spent every moment in survival mode for as long as I could remember. I had finally found a way to escape and numb the pain. For the next 20 years, that was my only solution until I completely lost everything – my family, my children, and myself.
One year ago today, our organization launched a new name—and with it, a new vision for what justice can mean in Texas.
After 21 years—during the bulk of which we were called the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition—our staff, board, coalition members, and community came together in an important decision: it was time to change our name.
If you’ve followed previous posts in our beginner’s guide blog series (which you can scroll down to revisit!), you may know that the Texas Legislature only holds its regular session from January through May of every other year. But the reality of how our laws are made is actually a little more complicated–in part because legislators start working early, in what’s called the interim.
I’m sure you’ve seen the posts all across social media: it’s the time of year when people reflect. They’ll share their most heard songs (mine: “Jackson” cover by Trixie Mattel and Orville Peck, “Jerome” by Lizzo, “The Six” by the Six the Musical cast). Or they might note personal accomplishments from the year (mine: a lot of homemade empanadas and one truly phenomenal maple pecan pie).
Last updated: June 19, 2021
After a divisive legislative session in Texas, lawmakers are headed home. But our work doesn’t end here. Over the next 20 days, the Governor will review the bills that have reached his desk and sign them into law, let them pass into law without a signature, or veto them.
In 2019, I had the memorable experience of visiting the Texas Capitol as part of an amazing team. And although I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with some of my fantastic coworkers again this year, that’s not what I’ll remember about the 2021 session. In the time of COVID-19, what’s stuck with me is a different experience--watching bills travel through the legislative process from behind my laptop screen.
In early 2020, the TCJC team had a vision: a week of justice-focused events, displays, and lobbying at the Texas Capitol during the state’s 2021 legislative session. We pictured our posters, tables, and reports laid out for legislators, staff, and visitors to learn about our work and get involved in the statewide movement to end mass incarceration. We imagined our team meeting people face-to-face and sharing stories in person.