TCJE in the News

Press Contact: For all media inquiries, please contact Madison Kaigh, Communications Manager, at mkaigh@TexasCJE.orgor (512) 441-8123, ext. 108.


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.

Read the rest of this story from KXAN.

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. 

Read the rest of this article from the Houston Chronicle.

Fair Hiring, Unfair Housing

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.

Read the rest of this article from the Texas Observer.

Advocates call on Texas lawmakers to eliminate youth prisons

Advocates call on Texas lawmakers to eliminate youth prisons. Watch the full video report here.

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.

Read the rest of this editorial from the Houston Chronicle.

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.” 

Read the rest of this story from The Daily Texan.

Houston police union, criminal justice attorney differ on reforms amid Tyre Nichols killing, botched Galveston raid

Five other officers seen on video beating Nichols were fired and charged with second degree murder and other offenses. And locally, Galveston’s police chief Doug Balli has been placed on administrative leave after police botched a raid. While the cases are not related, the two incidents have sparked conversations about police training. Douglas Griffith, president of the Houston police officers union, and Jay Jenkins, the Harris County Project Attorney at the Texas Center for Justice and Equity, joined Houston Matters with Craig Cohen on Tuesday.

Listen to the full interview from Houston Public Media.

A Texas ‘Crime Stopper’ Targeting Reform Judges Could Gain More Power Over Them

Andy Kahan is a familiar face in media coverage of crime and punishment in Texas, especially in Houston, where he was the police department’s longtime victim’s advocate. For decades, he rallied support for tough-on-crime legislation and held press conferences with crime victims to oppose parole releases or voice approval for executions

Read the rest of this article from Bolts Magazine.

This popular TikTok chef left his prosecutor job after old, racist tweets resurfaced

Waymond Wesley, aka “Chef Way” on TikTok, was known for his food content — but after Twitter users unearthed posts where he made misogynistic, colorist, and body-shaming comments about Black women, things pretty quickly went downhill. On Jan. 24, Wesley tweeted a lengthy apology for his past behavior and announced his decision to quit his day job as a prosecutor at the Harris County, Texas district attorney’s office.

Read the rest of this article from Mic.

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.

Read the rest of this story from The Imprint.