Dallas County is a massive driver of people into the adult prison system – second only to Harris County (Houston) – and home of the state’s second-largest county jail population. Furthermore, youth of color are disproportionately impacted by the school-to-prison pipeline in Dallas, especially those attending schools in South and West Dallas.
During 2017 and 2018, TCJC began working alongside advocates in Dallas, informally lending our policy expertise and continuing our efforts to bridge organizing and statewide policy change, specifically as it relates to safe reductions in justice system involvement and elimination of the associated racial disparities.
In 2019, TCJC formally expanded our office to the Dallas area, hiring Leon Theodore as our Dallas County Justice Project Advocate. Informed by his own lived experience in the justice system, Leon builds coalitions throughout the city and county and works to reverse the school-to-prison pipeline
Participating in Local Coalition Advocacy
When the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) expanded its Right2Justice work to Dallas to conduct education and advocacy around the 2018 primary elections, TCJC worked with TOP to finalize their full reform platform and seek support from District Attorney candidates. The platform included ending mass incarceration, protecting immigrants, reducing police violence and misconduct, eliminating the death penalty, and ending civil asset forfeiture.
We also helped write a questionnaire for DA candidates, and we worked with Fair Pun...read more
Supporting Bail Reform
In early 2018, TCJC supported attorneys’ efforts to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against Dallas County – similar to one filed in 2016 in Harris County (Houston) – alleging that the county’s bail system unfairly harms low-income people by failing to consider a defendant’s ability to post bond.
As of June 2020, this suit remains ongoing.
Building Transparency Through Our Dallas County Data Dashboard
TCJC launched our Dallas County data dashboard in spring 2019 at a presentation to Dallas Morning News staff. The dashboard, created with January Advisors and with support from Microsoft Cities Team, puts data on disparities in Dallas County’s justice system right at your fingertips to hold leaders accountable. It overlays data from 113,000 criminal court cases with demographic information to create a comprehensive view of case outcomes in Dallas, including the degree to which arrests are skewed in communitie...read more
Fighting for Better Outcomes for Kids
Schools in South and West Dallas contain the highest concentration of Black and Latinx students in the city. These schools also excessively rely on disciplinary action, which results in suspensions, expulsions, and justice system referrals. And given that the majority of returning citizens in Dallas live in the South and West sectors – which are the neighborhoods they lived in before entering the justice system – our reform efforts must especially target those areas in order to most effectively further TCJC’s mission to end mass incarceration and foster safer Texas communities.