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.
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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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
County commissioners change course on substance abuse treatment funding.
On average, one-third of families reject children who come out as LGBTQ, which puts them at greater risk for homelessness and incarceration.
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.
The Democratic sweep in Harris County Tuesday night could remake one of the largest criminal justice systems in the country.
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.
"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.
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.
One-size-fits-all justice systems fail lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, who experience worse outcomes and are over-represented in every part of the justice system, according to a new study released by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
Harris County juvenile judges and private attorneys accused of cronyism: “Everybody wins but the kids”
An analysis of state and county data by The Texas Tribune shows that the county’s three juvenile district courts — led by Republican Judges Glenn Devlin, John Phillips, and Michael Schneider — have been assigning an extraordinary number of cases to a handful of private lawyers.
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition released the third report in its “One Size FAILS All” report series. The report, Out of Sight: LGBTQ Youth and Adults in Texas Justice Systems, explores how the Lone Star State often fails to adequately address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Texans, and instead frequently moves them into the youth and adult justice systems at higher rates than people in the non-LGBTQ community.
Bail challengers say Harris County may have passively destroyed evidence; county lawyers deny allegation
Harris County officials failed to retain an unknown number of emails over a one-year period that could be pertinent in the hotly contested lawsuit over its bail practices, according to documents made public Monday.
After discovering the convict cemetery in March, the city appointed a panel of stakeholders. Now it’s ignoring their recommendation.