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.
TCJC In the News
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“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.
For the first time in a long time, C’alra Bradley felt a glint of hope. It was an unfamiliar feeling for the then-18-year-old whose life had been disrupted and derailed by one roadblock after another. Once an A and B student who loved to read, she was living out of her white 1997 Toyota Avalon, on her own for three years, scrounging to get by.
We tend to see those affected by the criminal justice system as an isolated minority, whose actions have no impact on our lives, but its effects ripple through families, communities and the economy.
The Texas Senate recently passed a bill which would improve conditions for women in prison, if it becomes law. The bipartisan House Bill 650, authored by Republican state Rep. James White, mandates that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) must provide women in state prisons with more and higher-quality menstrual products, allow inmates to remain with their newborns 72 hours after giving birth, and bans the use of restraints on pregnant women, according to HuffPost.
‘The Penal System Today is Slavery’: Lawmakers Finally Start to Talk About Unpaid Labor in Texas Prisons
Inmates in Texas make license plates, grow crops, tend to cattle, make soap and clothing, refurbish buses and computers, build furniture and more. They’re required to work if they’re physically and mentally capable, and the vast majority work for free — making Texas one of only five states where regular prison jobs are unpaid.
The Texas prison system has retooled policies to expressly ban the use of disciplinary quotas, nearly a year after a leaked email obtained by the Houston Chronicle pulled back the curtains on a scandal at a state lockup in Brazoria County.
Following the launch of a first-of-its-kind criminal justice data dashboard in Harris County late last year, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition is proud to announce that its Dallas County dashboard is now live.
Solitary confinement worsens mental illness. A Texas prison program meant to help can feel just as isolating.
For nearly two years, Geremy Sledge sat alone in his Texas prison cell about 23 hours a day. He was placed in solitary confinement — called administrative segregation by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice — after he stabbed another inmate he says stole from him in 2015.
Gerald Goines, who as a Houston narcotics cop led a botched deadly drug raid in January, heavily targeted Black people for low-level drug sale charges in majority black neighborhoods, according to arrest data obtained by The Appeal. In 591 cases in which Goines was the main officer, 94 percent of the defendants were Black, according to case data from the Harris County clerk’s office. The most frequent charge in these cases was “manufacture or delivery of less than 1 gram of a controlled substance,” which represented 23.69 percent, or 140 of the 591 cases.
Four Texas prison guards were fired and another two resigned under investigation after a controversial string of social media pictures posted as part of the so-called "Feeling Cute Challenge." Officials did not immediately clarify what units the officers worked at, what rank they held or which posts were flagged for concern following the spate of questionable images posted by law enforcement officers across the country.
Every weekday, a van from Gatesville arrives at the Waco bus station to deliver women released from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. And every weekday, women from Waco-area churches greet the ex-offenders, offering them a warm welcome, homemade cookies, handcrafted tote bags filled with helpful items and a prayer of blessing.
The plan from Dallas County District Attorney John Cruezot to scale back prosecution on some lower-level offenses to end what he calls "mass incarceration" is winning praise from criminal justice reform organizations.
Convicted felons on parole could vote if Texas bill passes. These are the potential voter demographics in Harris County
In Texas, convicted felons are allowed to vote after serving their sentence, but House Bill 1419 aims to allow convicted felons to vote if they are not currently incarcerated. If it becomes law, felons sentenced to parole, supervision, probation or other sentences not involving jail time would be able to vote. The bill, authored by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, would be Texas' first law since 1997 to address felony disenfranchisement.
In September, a report released by the Justice Department cited the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for not adequately addressing the needs of female inmates when it comes to trauma treatment, pregnancy programming, and hygiene. It charged oversight of policies, including those regarding strip searches, are conducted remotely– with no onsite visits to ensure compliance. Striking a similar note, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition released a report last spring calling on the state to treat female inmates with “dignity.”
A Bowie County grand jury last week declined to indict two former prison officials who admitted to altering inmate disciplinary records, a move that sparked outcry from advocates who said it again highlights the need for independent oversight of the Texas prison system.
Driving with a suspended license is undoubtedly a petty crime, but more than 6,000 Texans were jailed for it in 2017. Texas state lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would reduce the penalty to a fine.
In his last letter home, Sawyer Letcher was searching for forgiveness.
“You are my hero and my inspiration — I love you more than life,” the 19-year-old prisoner wrote to his mother. “I did a lot of messed up stuff and I am just realizing now. I was just broken, trying to find my way.”