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Former prisoners rally against solitary confinement at Texas Capitol
Marci Marie Simmons says one hug threw her into more than a month without human contact. Consoling a crying inmate violated a policy against touching other inmates, she claimed, and solitary confinement was the punishment.
Editorial: Why is Harris County paying private attorneys to do the public defender's job?
It'd be easy to make Jeanie Ortiz the poster child for all that ails the Harris County court system. After all, when you scroll through the indigent defense data for Texas, Ortiz is the only defense attorney in the county who raked in more than $1 million in taxpayer dollars representing low-income defendants last year.
When Jennifer Toon arrived at yet another prospective Austin rental in November 2021, she was welcomed by a dead rat. Its tail, curled limply on the duplex parking lot, was thicker than her cat’s. While the rat seemed welcome, Toon soon learned that she was not. As one of nearly 70 million Americans with criminal records, Toon continues to face “collateral consequences,” including housing and employment obstacles, over a decade after her conviction—even in a “Fair Chance” haven like Austin.
Editorial: Is 1 indictment in jail death of Jaquaree Simmons justice? Ask his mother.
It’s been almost two years since Jaquaree Simmons died after being found unconscious in the Harris County Jail. Shortly after, 11 employees were fired and another six were suspended without pay. But in the months since, his mother LaRhonda Biggles has waited to see how many of them would face criminal charges in the death of her 23-year-old son.
Finish the 5: UT students work with local organization to advocate for abolition of last Texas youth prisons
The Austin Liberation Youth Movement, a student-led organization that includes UT students, is advocating for the closure of the last five youth prisons in Texas through their Finish the 5 campaign. “We need a new system of accountability,” said Krupali Kumar, co-founder of the Austin Liberation Youth Movement. “If we’re looking at a lot of what these kids are in prison for, a lot of them are because of developmental behaviors. They need the right intervention. Prison is not an intervention — prison is a form of punishment.”
With Budget Surplus, Texas Lawmakers Will Consider Investments in Child Welfare
Buoyed by a hefty boost in revenue at the launch of this year’s legislative session, Texas lawmakers will consider a slew of budget and policy decisions aimed at improving the state’s troubled foster care and juvenile justice systems. According to the state comptroller, Texas has more than $188 billion in general revenue for the fiscal year 2024-25 — a 26% increase from the last budget cycle.