2023 Bills That Are Still Moving Or Have Become Law

Last updated: June 1, 2023 

Texas’ 2023 Legislative Session is officially over, but our work isn’t done yet! Governor Abbott has until June 18 to sign bills, veto (reject) them, or let them pass into law without a signature. Now that the dust has settled, we’ve identified about 40 positive justice-related bills that still have a chance of becoming law (and a handful have already been approved by the Governor). 

Although we’re happy to see...

Beginner’s Guide: Your Texas Lege Questions, Answered

The 88th regular session of the Texas Legislature is coming to a close in just two weeks, and it’s been another intense one. For someone new to the “lege”—or even someone like me, in their third session! —it can be hard to keep track of what’s going on. There are bills, budget amendments, points of order, committee subs, and more. And because the session is so short (just 140 days every other year), things tend...

Celebrating Second Chance Month: How Telling My Story Helps Break the Cycle

I was just a teenager when I first started using drugs. After feeling the effects of drugs for the first time, I remember thinking, “This must be what happiness is.” I had spent every moment in survival mode for as long as I could remember. I had finally found a way to escape and numb the pain. For the next 20 years, that was my only solution until I completely lost everything – my family...

Reports by TCJE and Restoring Justice lead to indigent defense improvements and transparency in Harris County

Over half of the people accused of crimes in Harris County’s criminal courts are indigent, meaning they cannot afford to hire a lawyer and require a court-appointed attorney to represent them. Texas courts have claimed that defendants do not have the right to choose who their court-appointed attorney is, despite Supreme Court caselaw suggesting otherwise. This means the court’s process of choosing appointed attorneys is of utmost importance.  

In Harris County, a majority of indigent...

Another Cry for Safer Communities

Keenan Anderson, Tyre Nichols, and Tortuguita are just a few of the many intentional, state-sanctioned murders that have taken place in 2023.  

A 31-year old high school teacher and father in Los Angeles, Keenan Anderson was killed by police who tased him for over 90 seconds when he flagged them down after a traffic accident. Tyre Nichols, who was 29 when he was beaten to death by police in Memphis, was an avid skateboarder and...

How we can close youth prisons and #FinishThe5

This past August, breaking news revealed a major crisis in Texas youth prisons. The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), an agency that’s always been plagued with problems, was at a point of collapse. Due to severe staffing shortages, kids were stuck in their cells for up to 23 hours a day, forced to use the bathroom in water bottles and on lunch trays. In many cases, these are kids who are already traumatized – and...

Forging Ahead in the Fight for Justice and Equity: TCJE’s First Year

One year ago today, our organization launched a new name—and with it, a new vision for what justice can mean in Texas.

After 21 years—during the bulk of which we were called the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition—our staff, board, coalition members, and community came together in an important decision: it was time to change our name.

There were a lot of reasons to make the change, but the biggest was that we wanted our name...

Beginner’s Guide: Interim Hearings at the Texas Legislature

If you’ve followed previous posts in our beginner’s guide blog series (which you can scroll down to revisit!), you may know that the Texas Legislature only holds its regular session from January through May of every other year. But the reality of how our laws are made is actually a little more complicated–in part because legislators start working early, in what’s called the interim.

As you’ll see in the definition below from the Texas...

Imagining Solutions Beyond ALL Forms of Punishment: Size and Scope of Probation

Today, close to 2 million human beings are locked away in more than 6,200 prisons, jails, and detention centers that span the American landscape. In fact, the U.S. has been consistently known as the world’s warden because of the sheer number of people our country locks up on any given day.

However, the reach of America’s ruthless criminal punishment system doesn’t stop at those people behind bars. Millions and millions of people, in various ways...

Q&A: Incarceration, Advocacy, and the LGBTQ+ Community in Texas

As Pride Month 2022 comes to a close, I sat down with the TCJE comms team to share my thoughts on what the month means and the intersections between our work and the LGBTQ+ community. Below is our Q&A!

Q: How are LGBTQ+ people uniquely impacted by the criminal legal system?

A: There are some stats that show how stark this issue is: