Last week, in a scathing 193-page opinion, a federal judge ruled the misdemeanor bail system violates poor people's constitutional rights, given that people with money can go free within hours of arrest while those without must languish in jail until trial.
TCJC In the News
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Legislature Plans to Close Four Correctional Facilities. Will They Become Immigrant Detention Centers?
The lean, mean budgets proposed by the Texas House and Senate don’t do much to inspire optimism about the coming two-year cycle. But opponents of mass incarceration have found some solace in funding cuts.
Unofficially known as the “career criminal bill,” House Bill 383 would enhance punishments for repeat offenders who commit crimes less serious than a felony. Similar to the federal “three strikes” law for felony convictions, House Bill 383 would impose a five strikes rule on misdemeanors in Texas.
The cutoff for criminal responsibility in Texas was increased to age 17 in the year 1918. Before that, 9-year-olds could be prosecuted as adults.
On Thursday, though, the Legislature got a step closer to passing legislation that would raise the age to 18 after the House passed House Bill 122 with an 82-62 vote, sending the bill over to the Senate. Representative Gene Wu (D-Houston) called it “the most important change to our criminal justice system that we have done in probably five decades.”
Texas is one of seven states that automatically classify 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system. That’s important because once a 17-year-old enters the courtroom as an adult, they are cut off from the stated rehabilitative goals and resources of the juvenile justice system.
More than three-fourths of Texas voters believe 17-year-old offenders should be treated as juveniles rather than adults, and an even greater number support alternatives to incarceration for some nonviolent low-level drug-related crimes, a newly released survey revealed.
A broad group of smart-on-crime organizations in Texas announced the release of new Texas Voters Survey polling data showing strong Texas voter support for alternatives to incarceration, as well as for other criminal justice reform policies currently being considered during Texas' 85th Legislative Session.
Although the criminal justice system in Texas treats 17-year-olds as adults rather than juveniles, their arrest rate—and types of crimes for which they are arrested—more closely resembles 16-year-olds than adults, a new study revealed. Criminal justice reform advocates insisted the data supports their call to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction.
Seventeen-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as adults in the Texas criminal justice system. A new data analysis from a broad coalition of groups working to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Texas from 17 to 18 finds that 17-year-olds are arrested at a rate and for non-violent, low-level offenses that closely resemble those of 16-year-olds rather than older youth or adults.
On Tuesday, the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety heard public testimony on both HB567 and HB574, two bills that would eliminate the authority of police officers to arrest people on offenses that are punishable by fines only — including minor traffic offenses such as speeding and, as in Sandra Bland's case, failure to use a turn signal.
If you're caught speeding, chances are you're issued a ticket and from there you're free to go. But in Texas, an officer can arrest you. That's on a case-by-case basis -- and in Houston -- the Houston Police Department requires an officer to get approval from a supervisor first. That could change under two bills working through the state Capitol in Austin.
A diverse group of more than 100 Texas legislators, community leaders, addiction experts, entertainers, inspirational speakers, and people impacted by the justice system convened on Friday, March 10, at the State Capitol to raise awareness for substance use disorder and support for treatment and rehabilitative opportunities as an alternative to incarceration in Texas.
Harris County commissioners on Tuesday approved a pilot program to make public defenders available at bail hearings, a step aimed at retooling a criminal justice system that has increasingly drawn criticism for jailing thousands of poor, low-risk offenders.
On the surface, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg's new marijuana diversion program, which allows for possession of four ounces or less without criminal charges, may seem like a green light to travel with small amounts of the drug throughout Harris County. But if you're caught in the Memorial Villages, dreams of lighting up without fear of consequences could go up in smoke.
Each year in Texas 30,000 people go to prison for having small amounts of drugs on them and it's costing tax payers millions of dollars. Now, one lawmaker and a criminal justice organization are trying to change that.
On Friday, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition expressed faith in the seemingly irredeemable at a day-long program meant to humanize substance abuse. The audience at the State Capitol heard from people who have walked the difficult path to recovery.
A new study has found that Harris County leads the country in exonerations, turning loose 48 people in 2016 alone. That's because its crime labs take an added precaution most others don't: testing the materials seized from drug defendants even after they enter guilty pleas.
Harris County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to develop a pilot program that would make public defenders present at bail hearings, a move aimed at reducing what officials say is the unnecessary jailing of thousands of defendants because they can't afford bail or are unfamiliar with the legal process. The pilot could lead to Harris County becoming the first county in Texas to make legal representation available at all hearings where bail is set.