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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.