Amid what's been a massive bummer of a Texas legislative session, the search for silver linings has been difficult. Over the past week, though, a solid contender has developed: the chance for meaningful criminal justice reform. Specifically, a pair of efforts that would make it easier for ex-offenders to secure employment have picked up steam in recent days.
TCJC In the News
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday called for the repeal of a state program that requires drivers convicted of certain traffic offenses to pay annual surcharges to keep their driver's licenses. Senate Bill 93 by state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, is the latest legislative attempt to abolish the Driver Responsibility Program.
An East Texas man traveled to Austin on Tuesday, preparing to tell a Senate committee in a public hearing about how the suspension of his driver's license has suspended his life. "If I don't drive, then I can't get a job or take my son to school or fishing." said Yeno.
Every month, the number of pregnant women incarcerated in Texas county jails hovers between 300 and 500, according to monthly jail population reports collected by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition Welcomes Award-Winning Artist John Legend in Support of Campaign to End Mass Incarceration
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, along with Texas legislators and coalition partners, welcomed nine-time Grammy® Award winner John Legend to Austin in support of his FREE AMERICA campaign to end mass incarceration.
As the shooting of Walter Scott dominated national headlines this week, Texas lawmakers discussed legislation aimed at making police officers think twice before using excessive force.
Testimonies at the State Legislature on Thursday largely supporting the adoption of body cameras in police departments across Texas suggest that the technology may be gaining traction in the state. The issue of body cameras has recently earned some urgency in the light of a North Charleston, S.C., fatal shooting Saturday in which Officer Michael Thomas Slager was caught on video shooting 50-year-old Walter Lamer Scott in the back multiple times.
Richard Gladden, a Texas defense attorney, represents criminals for a living, so he’s no stranger to crime. But when he talks about Securus, a for-profit prison company based in Dallas, he is downright grim. “Securus is mercenary,” he says. “They’re squeezing blood out of a rock.”
Miguel Moll went before the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues yesterday to tell the story of his introduction to the Harris County Jail. He was 17, he told lawmakers, when he was caught joyriding in a stolen car and brought to the Harris County Jail.
AUSTIN (AP) — As national unrest swells over police officers not indicted in high-profile shootings, a Texas House panel on Thursday heard testimony on bills seeking to calm public concerns of bias.
When it comes to criminal justice, we certainly respect the wisdom and experience of Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who has spent much of his 30 years in the Texas Senate working on those issues. His leadership on criminal justice matters is recognized on both sides of the aisle. As chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Whitmire is rare, being one of two Democrats tapped by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to chair a Senate committee.
The scene at a South Dallas apartment last month was shocking: a 14-year-old girl in bright pink pants, a blue top — and handcuffs — being hustled into a police car, after allegedly drowning a 2-month-old baby. Today, the girl, who is not being named because of her age, wears a shapeless navy uniform and tan shower shoes.
A mere decade and a half into the new millennium, state lawmakers appear to be grasping a basic tenet of facilitating employment: If you want all your citizens to have jobs, maybe don’t prevent them from getting jobs.
AUSTIN - Jailhouse visits are among the latest casualties of the digital age, with conversations squeezed through metal grates or thick plastic dividers replaced by Skype-like computer calls. Some are now revolting against the technology, calling it a poor substitute for human contact.
After defeating Democrat Wendy Davis in the race for Texas' top leadership position, Abbott wasted no time announcing he'd sign a bill this legislative session to allow the open carry of handguns. "If an open-carry bill is passed by the House and Senate and arrives at my desk, I will sign it into law," he pledged November 5, the day after he won. "If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it's good enough for the state of Texas."
In Texas, you have to be 21 to apply for a concealed handgun permit, and, in many cities, 18 to buy an e-cigarette. In the eyes of the criminal justice system, however, you are considered an adult at age 17, a nearly century-old law juvenile justice advocates and law enforcement increasingly agree is out of step with national norms.
A bill filed Monday morning will decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in Texas. The bill, numbered H.B. 507, would make knowing or intentional possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a non-criminal offense with a civil penalty of no more than $100.