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.
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.
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).
A joint investigation by The AP and the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service unearthed some alarming statistics regarding suicide rates in U.S. prisons and jails. Reporters compiled some 400 lawsuits in the last five years alleging mistreatment, most of which were of someone displaying a mental illness.
Spoiled milk. Too-thin mattresses. Shackling. Stillbirths. These are some of the appalling examples of neglect and lack of dignity that pregnant people face in jails and prisons around the country and right here in Texas.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office is again asking county commissioners for more prosecutors, this time to handle fallout from the failed Pecan Park drug raid that left two homeowners dead and prompted an investigation into potential police misconduct.
Behind a supermarket and across a highway from an airport catering to the private jet set, an education centre is rising in Texan fields bookended by fast-food chains, strip malls and residential streets lined with beige McMansions.
House Bill 37, which goes into effect Sept. 1, criminalizes mail theft, with the penalty ranging from a class A misdemeanor to third-degree felony, depending on the number of addresses mail is taken from.
After the official end of Governor Abbott’s veto period, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) provided an update on the policies that will help to decarcerate the nation’s largest prison population, improve opportunities to divert people into programs and services that will have better outcomes, and help communities thrive statewide.
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition reviewed all arrests in Harris County, which includes Houston, over the course of 16 weeks. It found that African Americans accounted for nearly half of all drivers arrested on a single, “non-jailable” motor vehicle offense.
In 2018, after a years-long lawsuit, the state of Texas installed air-conditioning at the Wallace Pack prison southeast of College Station, as part of a settlement with inmates. But within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system, there are just 29 facilities with air-conditioned beds.
In Texas, there are currently more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking, and nearly 80,000 of them are children. New legislation signed into law this week hopes to go after online sex traffickers and boost protections for human trafficking survivors. But, some survivors say more work needs to be done.
Convict leasing, Jenkins told me, is the crucial link between the history of slavery and the present system of mass incarceration: “All the capitalist concerns, all the cruelty, of that stuff was baked into our carceral system during this period of convict leasing.” Building over the bodies denies that reality.
“From improving conditions of confinement for women to addressing some of the root causes that contribute to women being incarcerated, to training to support pregnant women inmates, to understanding women’s unique role as primary caregivers, the Texas Legislature made women’s dignity a top priority in reforming the criminal justice system.”
Texas incarcerates more women than any other state. The number of women in Texas prisons has ballooned since 1980, growing by nearly 1,000% – twice the rate of men.
Texas prosecutors want to keep low-level criminals out of overcrowded jails. Top Republicans and police aren't happy.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot announced policy reforms last month that he said would be “a step forward” in ending mass incarceration in Dallas. His plans include decreasing the use of excessively high bail amounts and no longer prosecuting most first-time marijuana offenses.