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:

As We Honor Juneteenth, We Must Acknowledge—and Continue the Fight Against—Modern-Day Slavery

The holiday of Juneteenth represents hard-fought and long-overdue freedom. Celebrated on June 19th, it’s a day filled with festivities, including great food and folks wearing their best clothing. Why is that such an important part of the day? When Black people were slaves, they were given slop and scraps from their owners’ meals. Their clothes were rags pieced together from leftover materials or thrown out clothing. So the food and clothing represent a grand rising...

Don’t Reward Local News for Misleading the Public About Bond Reform

Every week, people in and around Houston (one of the largest cities in the US, with over 7 million people in the metro area) turn on their computers or televisions—and see bias and misinformation about the criminal legal system. It’s not just COPS and Law & Order, either. As TCJE’s recent research has found, false narratives run rampant in Houston-area TV news, especially English-language stations. And one of the worst offenders when it comes to...

Nine Seconds in Minneapolis: Reflections on the Police Murder of Amir Locke

As we celebrate the history of Black culture and the people that made and are still making courageous efforts in the ongoing fight from freedom to equality, we are met with another reminder that police brutality and over-policing on Black, indigenous, and people of color are still a crisis in America—one that takes our Black sons, brothers, and fathers, leaving families shattered and communities traumatized.

Last week, we witnessed another murder of another Black man...

2021 in Review: A Year of Transformation at TCJE

I’m sure you’ve seen the posts all across social media: it’s the time of year when people reflect. They’ll share their most heard songs (mine: “Jackson” cover by Trixie Mattel and Orville Peck, “Jerome” by Lizzo, “The Six” by the Six the Musical cast). Or they might note personal accomplishments from the year (mine: a lot of homemade empanadas and one truly phenomenal maple pecan pie).

For our organization, there’s also a lot to reflect...

Are you getting the whole story? Lessons from our report on media bias in Harris County

This week, TCJE released a report I co-authored on media bias in local TV stations’ coverage of bond reform. When I first began working on this project, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Attempting to methodically analyze media coverage was a daunting task, and many key details needed to be defined. Which forms of media would we analyze? How would we determine bias? Which articles should be included or excluded?

Over several weeks, these questions...

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition is now the Texas Center for Justice and Equity! Learn More