When kids get in trouble with the law, it is far more likely they’ll be incarcerated if they’re Black or brown, and that has created a wide racial-justice gap for America’s youth, including in Texas. A new report from The Sentencing Project shows a promising improvement in many states, but nonetheless found that Black youth are more likely to be in custody than white youth in every state but Hawaii.
TCJC In the News
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Raised on the streets, the sound of gunshots is just down the road from one group of teens in northeast Austin. Around the corner, a friend is being held at knifepoint. But one nonprofit in Austin is determined to show these youths another way to live. “I had to choose a better route. I was stuck in my ways, doing what I wanted to do,” said Antonio Martinez, 21.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler and City Council Member Greg Casar are responding to Save Austin Now’s #MakeAustinSafe initiative, calling it a “far-right-wing police mandate.” Last week, the political action committee submitted its police-related petition for an ordinance to be on the November 2021 ballot. Adler and Casar said in a press release the ordinance would “slash funds” for city services including EMS, mental health care and parks services.
Becky Stewart was looking forward to a Saturday with her son Cameron in mid-March. The two planned to drive down from Williamson County, stroll around Zilker Park in Austin, maybe visit a food truck. Cameron, at 19, was Becky’s youngest son. He was bright, charismatic, entrepreneurial. He had decided to take a pause before college to explore starting a business.
With more than 25K signatures on petition, Austin voters may be able to decide on ‘re-funding police’
The nonprofit organization behind a petition to increase policing in the city of Austin says it’s received more than 25,600 signatures — making the proposed changes eligible for the November 2021 election. The local political action committee Save Austin Now began the petition in May and now says it’s completed the drive it hopes will make several changes to “#MakeAustinSafe.”
A proposal for overhauling the Texas bail system gained steam at the legislature over the weekend before stalling dead in its tracks Monday when Democrats left the state to deny GOP lawmakers a quorum. The quorum break targeted an unrelated election bill similar to Senate Bill 7, which Democrats killed using the same quorum-busting tactic in May.
Texas is one of only three states to automatically treat 17-year-olds as adults when they are arrested, and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition said that can often lead to a lifetime of involvement with the justice system. Since 2007, advocates to “Raise the Age” have encouraged state policymakers to change laws, so teens can go through the juvenile justice system instead.
Ground Game Texas, a new voter mobilization group, announced Wednesday they would be launching a new campaign to create a ballot initiative in Austin to decriminalize marijuana and end “no-knock” warrants. The “Austin Freedom Act of 2021” would decriminalize low-level marijuana offenses and prevent police in Austin from entering someone’s residence without first notifying them.
When Lorenzo Culbero appeared before the New York parole board in December, nearly 15 years after he was incarcerated and four months before his potential release date, the board deferred its decision for 18 months. Culbero said the board cited his failure to complete a substance use program as one of the reasons for its decision.
Girls Embracing Mothers offers a chance for formerly incarcerated moms to rebuild relationships with their daughters
“No running!” says Diana Lopez, a volunteer at a summer camp organized by the nonprofit Girls Embracing Mothers. You can’t blame the young campers as they make a break for their cabins: The summer heat is finally kicking in, and swimming is the next activity on deck. They’ve already enjoyed archery and spoken-word poetry at the STEM Center of Excellence at Camp Whispering Cedars in southern Dallas.
On Tuesday, June 15, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted to delay moving forward with the design of a new women's jail for at least a year. The decision came after more than three hours of testimony from more than 100 callers, including formerly incarcerated women and leaders from Austin Justice Coalition, the Lilith Fund, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Texas Fair Defense Project, Grassroots Leadership, and other activist organizations.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed Thursday the agency has been directed by Gov. Greg Abbott to move prisoners from the Briscoe Unit in Dilley to make room for migrants with low-level offenses. “Beginning on June 16, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) began moving inmates from the Dolph Briscoe Unit in Dilley, Texas, to other facilities with available capacity throughout the state. This action will allow the unit to serve as a central holding facility for non-TDCJ detainees who have been arrested and charged with a state offense,” a TDCJ spokesperson said in a statement.
A new report shows that dozens of Texans have died in prison from COVID-19 despite already being granted parole. Within a year of the coronavirus pandemic, 18 people who had been approved for parole died with the virus before while still in prison, according to a report released Thursday from the University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Governor Greg Abbott made several new announcements on Texas’ efforts to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico; including a $250 million down payment, and a letter to President Biden demanding land obtained by the Trump administration for a wall be given to the State.
Maggie Luna tried to fit all of the love she had for her three children onto a tri-fold poster board a week before her court date. Each section of the plain white board was adorned with a photo timeline dedicated to one of her children, illustrating Luna’s presence in their lives from birth up until the day they were taken from her. It was a desperate attempt to persuade a Harris County judge to let her keep the kids. But the judge didn’t bother to look up at her or her poster before terminating Luna’s rights to her children.
Lorenzo Thomas’ first memory after waking up in John Peter Smith Hospital (JPS) was hearing a Fort Worth police officer talking to a nearby medical worker. “We did one chest compression” on him, Thomas alleges officer Daniel Hafer told the medical worker.
A coalition of grassroots groups and community leaders gathered before a planned vote by Travis County commissioners to secure design services for a new $ 80 million women’s prison. The Women’s Prison is a proposed project under the 2016 Travis County Master Plan, a 20-year blueprint to modernize Travis County’s prison facilities, including a new central accounting facility in downtown Austin. Overall, the first phase of the plan has an estimated price of $ 240.5 million.
Local groups rallied Monday outside of the Travis County Commissioners Court to push for change in the jail and incarceration system. The groups called on commissioners to vote against new spending on the County’s women’s jail. The nearly $4.3 million contract is set to be voted on by commissioners during Tuesday’s meeting.
A group of criminal justice advocates, activists and formerly incarcerated people is calling on Travis County to abandon its plans to build a new, 350-bed women’s jail and suspend construction projects on any other jail facilities. Travis County Commissioners will vote Tuesday on the plan to build a $79 million women's facility, which was one of the pillars of a 2016 plan to revamp the county’s correctional complex.
Ahead of a scheduled vote by Travis County commissioners to secure design services for a new $80 million women’s jail, a coalition of grassroots groups and community leaders gathered June 7 to protest the plan and encourage alternative investments, including diversion programs. The women’s jail is a proposed project of the 2016 Travis County Master Plan, a 20-year blueprint to upgrade Travis County Jail facilities, which also includes a new central booking facility in downtown Austin.