TCJC In the News

Press Contact: For all media inquiries, please contact Madison Kaigh, Communications Manager, at or (512) 441-8123, ext. 108.


Texas prisons eliminate use of solitary confinement for punitive reasons

September 21, 2017

Texas correctional officials this month quietly eliminated the use of solitary confinement as a punishment for jailhouse rule-breakers, positioning the state at the forefront of a nationwide push to end the practice.

Read the rest of this article at the Houston Chronicle.

Organizations Call for Driver Responsibility Program Amnesty for Hurricane Harvey Victims

September 11, 2017

Today, six statewide organizations, along with individuals and organizations directly engaged in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, filed a formal petition asking the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to issue a one-time Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) fee amnesty in Texas’ disaster area counties.

Read the rest of this press release here.

DPS hears plea to change arrest rules to prevent another Sandra Bland case

August 24, 2017

Sandra Bland wasn't mentioned by name. But it was clear that her highly publicized death, which helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement, was a key part of a hearing Thursday aimed at stopping police from locking up Texans over minor traffic offenses.

Read the rest of this article at Houston Chronicle.

Jenkins, Harris: Leading the way to sensible policy on drug use

August 19, 2017

After decades of pursuing failed policies in the name of waging war on drugs, elected officials now claim to seek sensible approaches to drug use.

Read the rest of this op-ed at the Houston Chronicle.

Advocates: Reject Police Union Contract

August 17, 2017

City Council is holding budget hearings later this afternoon, with testimony expected on the proposed property tax rate, any fee changes, etc. Criminal justice advocates say they will be there to oppose the current Austin Police Association contract, and demand greater accountability over officer misconduct.

Read the rest of this article at Austin Chronicle.

Inmates and Loved Ones Affected After Mecklenburg County Ends In-Person Visitation

August 16, 2017

On September 23, 2016, hundreds of protesters marching through the streets of Uptown Charlotte stopped outside of the Mecklenburg County Jail on East 4th Street to show solidarity.

Read the rest of this article at Creative Loafing Charlotte.

Meet-and-confer negotiations with police ineffective, groups say

August 8, 2017

A group of Austin community advocacy organizations came together Tuesday to call on city leaders to end meet-and-confer negotiations with the Austin police officers’ union.

Read the rest of this article at the Austin American-Statesman.

TCJC Wants Drug Policy Reforms Added to Texas Special Session Call

August 2, 2017

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) calls on Governor Greg Abbott to expand the call of the Special Legislative Session to fix the state’s dangerously outdated drug policies.

Read the rest of this press release here.

A state-by-state look at juvenile life without parole

July 31, 2017

States are responding to U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have found mandatory life-without-parole sentences unconstitutional for juveniles except for the rare homicide offender incapable of rehabilitation.

Read the rest of this article at The Washington Post.

12 Texas inmates are serving banned juvenile life sentence

July 30, 2017

In early 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court told states to retroactively apply its 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life without parole for juveniles convicted of homicide. While many states have acted to resentence offenders to parole-eligible terms, Texas has left it to inmates to apply individually.

Read the rest of this article at the San Antonio Express-News.

Texas is shedding its lock-'em-up image thanks to a 37-year-old tattooed lawyer and an unlikely political alliance

July 29, 2017

Mark Gonzalez had never prosecuted a single case before he was elected district attorney of Nueces County, Texas, last November. The 37-year-old self-described "Mexican biker defense lawyer" spent his first decade in law poking holes through bad cases and defending low-level offenders from what he viewed as unnecessary prosecutions and unduly harsh penalties.

Read the rest of this article at Business Insider.

Raise the age from 17 in criminal cases

July 24, 2017

During the past 10 years, Texas has made incredible progress both in reducing the number of individuals incarcerated and in creating alternative programs for low-risk offenders.

Read the rest of this op-ed at the San Antonio Express-News.

With crime, incarceration rates falling, Texas closes record number of prisons

July 5, 2017

Texas will shutter more prisons this year than it has in any single year in history, a response to the state's tight budget and shrinking inmate population. In the state's two-year budget, which lawmakers approved in May, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was ordered to close four prison facilities by Sept. 1.

Read the rest of this article at Dallas News.

Some counties question need of special courts for law enforcement

July 3, 2017

Texas police officers and other first responders who have job-related mental health issues can soon be diverted into pretrial treatment programs if they commit a crime, but many large counties don't appear interested in creating the new specialty courts.

Read the rest of this article at The Texas Tribune.

Death Row Solitary: ‘Their Walls Have Driven Them Mad’

June 1, 2017

Anthony Graves emerged from solitary confinement over six years ago to become a national crusader for justice reform, but it took a recent report by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin to add new urgency to his campaign to reform the practice in his own state.

Read the rest of this article at The Crime Report.


Unsupervised boys at Dallas County juvenile detention center engaged in sex acts

June 1, 2017

Boys locked up for sex offenses were left unsupervised at a Dallas County juvenile detention center long enough to engage in sexual acts with each other on at least two occasions.

Read the rest of this artice at Dallas News.

What Will It Take to Get More Police Oversight?

May 26, 2017

As City Council meetings go, the one held Thursday, April 20, was a rarity: a meeting with invited public testimony for a staff briefing on labor negotiations for the city's three public safety unions. That kind of Item doesn't tend to ever get scheduled.

Read the rest of this article at the Austin Chronicle.

Traffic Ticketing Program That Feeds Debtors’ Prison Pipeline May Be in its Final Year

May 17, 2017

Since 2003, an obscure Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) program has trapped more than a million Texans in a cycle of debt, opponents say. For nearly as long, lawmakers critical of the program have sought to repeal it.

Read the rest of this article at Texas Observer.

Ownership of Body Camera Videos Trouble Police Activists

May 16, 2017

Austin Police are getting ready to use body cameras, but some say they could be giving away public property to a private company. The city's buying cameras from Axon, which used to be known as Taser International.

Read the rest of this article at Spectrum News.

Solitary Confinement Is Still Used In Texas Jails And Prisons, But At What Cost?

May 15, 2017

Solitary confinement, administrative segregation, seclusion, disciplinary separation and lockdown are a few of the names for isolating a prisoner in a separate cell. Officials say administrative segregation or "ad seg," is necessary for offenders who require maximum security to ensure the safety of staff, other offenders and the security of the institution.

Read the rest of this article - and stream an interview with various stakeholders, including TCJC's Doug Smith - at Texas Public Radio.