TCJE Blog

Children are the hidden victims of parental incarceration; reuniting families would change their lives

The consequences of incarceration can be a life sentence in many ways. But being separated from your child should not be one of them—especially if you have changed the reason you were removed from their life and can now meet your child’s needs.

After my incarceration, I have navigated obstacles related to housing, employment, and equitable higher education. Those things are extremely difficult to overcome, but being unable to see my children or be actively involved in their lives...

No Handmade Cards for Incarcerated People this Valentine’s Day

I am formerly incarcerated, and I have spent a few Valentine’s days in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). On holidays, there is a feeling of loneliness like no other behind the brick walls of prison. I remember the homemade cards women would receive from their children in the days leading up to February 14th. Husbands would send thoughtful cards to their wives. Those cards were a glimpse of hope and humanity sent from the outside. I would receive a thoughtful handwritten letter...

A Beginner’s Guide to the Texas Legislative Session

No matter how many times you walk into the Texas Capitol, you never lose the feeling of awe at being in such a beautiful and historic place.

Before I joined the TCJC team, I had visited the Capitol a few times. But during Second Chance Month (April) 2019, I walked through the doors with a new sense of belonging. I was there alongside my coworkers, colleagues, and friends to watch from the gallery as a...

TCJC’s Top (20)20 List

 

This year, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition turned 20 — and, as always, the TCJC team has been working to ensure that our mission is meeting the moment. Over the past several months, as the interconnected challenges of COVID-19 and racial injustice have earned the national spotlight, we have seen calls for improved health and safety approaches. As budgets are upended and incarcerated people remain at risk from COVID-19 outbreaks, TCJC’s advocacy to end...

Putting Youth Justice in Action for YJAM 2020

Since 2008, October has been dedicated to youth justice. Every year, advocates, family members, and system-impacted kids have come together with leadership from the Campaign for Youth Justice to mark Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM), formerly called Youth Justice Awareness Month. 

In a typical year, YJAM is an opportunity for the youth justice community to highlight wins and needed reforms through rallies, events, and more. We get to meet face-to-face and share stories of resilience...

A Message from the Executive Director: Your Thoughts, TCJC’s Vision, and Our Shared Values

A year ago, I sent out an email asking TCJC’s supporters for your input on our work. We collected survey responses from 140 people, who represented all walks of life and levels of justice system impact. I read about your priorities for policy reform, your difficulties navigating an opaque and insensitive justice system, and your reasons for joining us in this fight.

None of us could have guessed how different the world would be a...

Bail Blog Series: Final Thoughts

“It’s just a messed up system. It makes me feel like…I’m not a free American citizen.” –George*

The pretrial detention process is chaotic, frustrating, and exhausting for the people mixed up in it. It creates and perpetuates a cycle of criminality on the basis of poverty. George, introduced in a previous blog post, bluntly encapsulated this sentiment when he described his anger towards the bail process and the larger criminal justice system. His perspective...

Bail Blog Series: What Comes After Release?

Until now in this series, I’ve been focusing on the time that people unjustly spend in pretrial detention. Interviews with people like Lance* and George* (introduced in previous blog posts here and here) have shown first-hand the cruelty of present jail conditions and the confusion with which cases are reset and delayed. Lance and George have characterized their time inside the Harris County Jail as chaotic, frightening, and assaultive—a punishment for a crime they...

Bail Blog Series: Jail Conditions

Jail isn’t a great place. But it’s not supposed to be, right? It’s a “bad” place for “bad” people. That’s okay then; jails are what they’re supposed to be.

For too many years, this embarrassingly childish way of thinking created tension between my perception of jails and the values of humane treatment. I, like many outsiders, never actively wanted jails to be terrible places. But I was certainly comfortable with their reputation as subpar, writing...

What My Time with TCJC Taught Me About Leadership and Justice

Finding the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition was a bit of a fluke—or at least that’s how it felt at the time. Doug Smith, TCJC’s Senior Policy Analyst, had come to speak to one of my classes at St. Edward’s University in 2018. I spoke to him after his presentation and asked for one of his business cards. About a year later, when I decided I wanted to spend my summer making a difference, I found...

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