TCJC In the News

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Beto O’Rourke Changed His Message To Win Voters Of Color In Texas. The Result Could Swing The Presidential Race

January 14, 2019

“If you’re going to motivate a diverse group of voters, criminal justice is the easiest issue to motivate them on,” said Jay Jenkins, an attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. “It was refreshing to have a candidate speak openly and plainly about the things that black and brown folks experience on a daily basis, but politicians have been, for whatever reason, reluctant to bring up.”

Read the rest of this article at BuzzFeed

The 'Failure to Appear' Fallacy

January 9, 2019

When the judge set his bail at $3,000, Jonathan Broad*, 57, thought “All I want is to die free—not in jail.” Broad was arrested in March 2016 and convicted of “criminal possession of a controlled substance.” When he appeared before the judge shortly after his arrest, he was unemployed and living in a homeless shelter in New York City and suffered from congestive heart failure, diabetes, and asthma. He could not pay the bail. A stint in jail, Broad knew, could be a death sentence.

Read the rest of this article from The Appeal....

Human lives were not of value

January 9, 2019

Bill Mills experienced firsthand the cruel conditions of Sugar Land’s notorious Imperial Prison Farm. Back in 1910, he became a part of the Texas prison system shortly after his 17th birthday when he was arrested for horse theft. And though he went on to serve multiple prison terms in Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia, it was his time at Imperial Prison Farm that remained etched in his memory.

Read the rest of this article at the Houston Chronicle

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January 3, 2019

A new state law set to take effect in March aims to combat the crime by making sexually oriented businesses post human-trafficking hotline information in their bathrooms.

Read the rest of this article at Spectrum News Austin

Lawsuit: TX prison too understaffed to take inmate to hospital for flesh-eating bacteria infection

December 18, 2018

An [incarcerated individual] is suing the Texas prison system after officials allegedly failed to adequately treat his flesh-eating bacteria infection for a week, letting the wound fester as they refused to take him to the hospital because the unit was too understaffed.

Read the rest of this article at the Houston Chronicle

Tough-on-crime prosecutors distort truth, block prison reform

December 13, 2018

While the criminal justice reform movement gains momentum across the country, Arizona remains on the outside looking in. Even as more conservative states with a tradition of harsh justice reduce prison populations through smart reforms that target the root causes of crime, Arizona persists in the failed policies of mass incarceration, wasting resources to imprison low-level offenders.

Read the rest of this article from the Arizona Capitol Times.

When Prison Reform Goes Bad

December 11, 2018

Doug Smith, a senior policy analyst with the nonprofit Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, says lawmakers never delivered on the rehabilitation-focused approach they had promised. Without re-entry planning, ongoing mental health care and other rehabilitative programs, many formerly incarcerated Texans have little chance of reintegrating into society. 

Read the rest of this article at the Texas Observer

Texas inspired Washington’s prison reform plan. Ted Cruz isn’t convinced

November 28, 2018

“Any criminal justice researcher will tell you that the people who are least likely to [commit the same crime over again] are people who have committed violent crimes,” said Doug Smith, a senior policy analyst at the non-partisan Texas Criminal Justice Coalition who has studied Texas’ reforms.

Read the rest of this article at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Advocates say the timing is right for independent oversight of Texas prisons

November 26, 2018

A bill aiming to detach the ombudsman from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice died in 2017. But news from the past year makes advocates hopeful that 2019 will be different.

Read the rest of this article at the Texas Tribune.

Judicial Election Steers Texas County Toward Bail Reform

November 25, 2018

A lawsuit challenging the cash bail system in Harris County, Texas, is at an unusual crossroads after 14 Republican municipal court judges named as defendants in the suit — all of whom opposed reforms — were voted out of office this month, a move that likely spells big changes for alleged offenders stuck behind bars because they can't pay their way out.

Read the rest of this article at Law360

The Power Issue: Tim Dunn Is Pushing the Republican Party Into the Arms of God

November 19, 2018

The liberal Texas Criminal Justice Coalition was a major player in the fight, but it was the support of the conservative TPPF that helped make passage possible in a Republican-dominated Legislature.

Read the rest of this article at Texas Monthly

New Contract Could Give Austin One of the Most Transparent Police Departments in the Country

November 16, 2018

Last year, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition reviewed the citizen panel’s recommendations in other cases, including other mental health calls that resulted in cops killing people, and found that police officials mostly ignored them.

Read the rest of this article at the Texas Observer

Progressives unseated all 59 Republican judges up for re-election in Houston in the midterms

November 14, 2018

"For 19 black women and a socialist to be elected judge in Houston, which is the epicenter of mass incarceration, is not a small deal," said Jay Jenkins, an attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. "The possibility that we could fix some of the issues that the sitting judges have just proved unwilling or unable to fix is on the horizon."

Read the rest of this article - and watch an interview with TCJC's Jay Jenkins - on Vice News....

Walk-In Walk-Out

November 9, 2018

County commissioners change course on substance abuse treatment funding.

Read the rest of this article at the Austin Chronicle

Report Shows How Texas LGBTQ Youth Are More Likely To End Up Incarcerated

November 9, 2018

On average, one-third of families reject children who come out as LGBTQ, which puts them at greater risk for homelessness and incarceration.

Read the rest of this article at the Texas Standard

Beto O’Rourke Mobilized So Many Democratic Voters That They Swept Even Local Judges Out of Office

November 9, 2018

In Harris County, which is home to Houston and the third-largest county in the United States, Democrats unseated 59 Republican judges—including all 23 district judges, all 13 family court judges, all eight county civil judges and probate judges, and all 15 misdemeanor judges. Of the newly appointed Democrats, an unprecedented 19 are black women, significantly changing the face of a judiciary that had been primarily white.

Read the rest of this article at Mother Jones

The Midterms Trigger a Seismic Shift in Harris County’s Courts

November 8, 2018

The Democratic sweep in Harris County Tuesday night could remake one of the largest criminal justice systems in the country.

Read the rest of this article at the Texas Observer.

Promise not to kill anyone? After losing election, TX judge wholesale releases juvenile defendants

November 7, 2018

After losing his bench in a Democratic sweep, Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin released nearly all of the youthful defendants that appeared in front him on Wednesday morning, simply asking the kids whether they planned to kill anyone before letting them go.

Read the rest of this article at the Houston Chronicle

Talking Points: Best quotes and tweets of the week

November 3, 2018

"What we ultimately got was a juvenile system where the lawyers get rich ... and everybody wins but the kids." — Jay Jenkins, an attorney from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, who said Harris County judges and lawyers are part of a "pay-to-play" system.

Read the rest of this article at The Dallas Morning News

Costly Calls: Shelby County makes $1 million from jail phones amid national reforms

November 2, 2018

Every day in Memphis, more than 5,000 people, on average, spend their hours locked up inside one of four Shelby County facilities, according to figures provided by county officials. More than half are pretrial detainees, held behind bars before being convicted of any crime.

Read the rest of this article at Memphis Commercial Appeal.