Mission & Vision

Mission & Vision

The Texas Center for Justice and Equity (TCJE) advances solutions and builds coalitions to end mass incarceration and foster safer Texas communities.

In our vision, all Texans live in safe, thriving communities where incarceration is rare and every person has the opportunity to succeed.

Letter from the Executive Director

Letter from the Director

Hello, and welcome to our website!

I’m Leah Pinney, the Executive Director of the Texas Center for Justice and Equity (TCJE) – formerly known as the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. We’re a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Austin, Texas, with staff in major counties throughout the state. We also support the work of system-impacted leaders across Texas.

In our advocacy at the State Capitol and on the ground in Texas cities, we are proud to partner with community members, fellow advocates, academics, service providers, and many others to transform justice. We are intent on ending mass incarceration: by reorienting the state’s criminal legal system toward prevention, healing, and redemption; by stemming further growth in an already bloated and ineffective system; and by fighting for investments in community-based supports that exist outside of the system. We want all Texans to feel safe, have hope, and succeed, and it takes each of us to make that vision possible.

Read more

Hello, and welcome to our website!

I’m Leah Pinney, the Executive Director of the Texas Center for Justice and Equity (TCJE) – formerly known as the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. We’re a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Austin, Texas, with staff in major counties throughout the state. We also support the work of system-impacted leaders across Texas.

In our advocacy at the State Capitol and on the ground in Texas cities, we are proud to partner with community members, fellow advocates, academics, service providers, and many others to transform justice. We are intent on ending mass incarceration: by reorienting the state’s criminal legal system toward prevention, healing, and redemption; by stemming further growth in an already bloated and ineffective system; and by fighting for investments in community-based supports that exist outside of the system. We want all Texans to feel safe, have hope, and succeed, and it takes each of us to make that vision possible.

This is a Texas-sized undertaking, and we’ve been at it for more than 20 years – doing the work to move the needle on reform. We conduct research and data analysis, produce reports and fact sheets, share stories of system impact, craft proposals for reform, and engage in education with decision-makers.

Over time, we’ve seen more people safely diverted from prisons and jails. We’ve seen the state’s youth and adult prison populations fall, and prison facilities close. We’ve seen meaningful investments in local programs that help people address their needs and get back on their feet.

We do know that we still have far to go. Texas remains a leading incarcerator, disproportionately locking up people of color, criminalizing mental health and substance use disorders, and disrupting families – all with a multi-billion-dollar price tag.

But more Texans than ever before are pitching in to help right these wrongs, and we’re grateful to you for supporting our fight for a better Texas. I hope this website will provide the information you need as you join us in making a difference!

  • If you’re looking for ways to get more involved, check out our supporter hub to learn how to partner with us locally or at the State Capitol. And take a look at our system-impacted coalitions to see if you’d like to participate!
  • Are you interested in reading more about justice policy areas and our recommendations for reform? Check out our searchable library of reports, fact sheets, and infographics.
  • If you’d like the specifics about how we’re fighting for better outcomes for all Texans, you can dig into our state policy areas and our work on the ground in Texas counties.
  • Want to see what our team feels about rising issues? Check out our blog or find quotes from our staff on our news page.
  • Lastly, sign up to receive our monthly e-updates to keep up to date on our work, important reports and events, and other key news.

Thank you for your interest in TCJE. Together, we can create a brighter future for Texas!

Warmly,
Leah

P.S. If you’d like to invest in our team and this work, please make a contribution here! We’re a small team with a big mission, and your donation means we can continue the day-to-day work to build stronger families and safer, healthier Texas communities.

Read less

Our New Name

Our New Name

tcje logo

THE TEXAS CRIMINAL JUSTICE COALITION IS NOW THE TEXAS CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND EQUITY!

We are thrilled to share our new name, which we believe better exemplifies our mission and values. Here’s why we made the change, where we’re going from here, and how you can help us transform justice in Texas.

20 years of justice reform. In 2000, our organization was established as ProTex: Network for a Progressive Texas. Since then, we’ve worn different hats, first as the Texas Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, then later with the name you know: the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. (You can learn about this history and more in our 20th anniversary timeline.)

Read more

THE TEXAS CRIMINAL JUSTICE COALITION IS NOW THE TEXAS CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND EQUITY!

We are thrilled to share our new name, which we believe better exemplifies our mission and values. Here’s why we made the change, where we’re going from here, and how you can help us transform justice in Texas.

20 years of justice reform. In 2000, our organization was established as ProTex: Network for a Progressive Texas. Since then, we’ve worn different hats, first as the Texas Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, then later with the name you know: the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. (You can learn about this history and more in our 20th anniversary timeline.)

Our organization has always worked to challenge mass incarceration and support system-impacted people through state policy reform. Over the last decade, we’ve expanded our focus to include county-based outreach, and we are strongly committed to centering the voices of system-impacted people. We know the solutions that create real public safety lie outside of the justice system – and that the people closest to the problem know more about those solutions than anyone else.

The next 20 years. In 2021, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition became the Texas Center for Justice and Equity! Our new name is a reflection of our priorities: justice that focuses on transformation and community wellbeing, and equity across systems, in our communities, and in our own organizational culture.

When we announced our new name, we also announced a different kind of agenda for the next year—one that focuses more on people than on specific policies. We’re using this time to build up the community-based power of our Statewide Leadership Council and Texas Women’s Justice Coalition, collect data on the impact of the system, and connect with people across the state. Ultimately, our new name is about you: your input, your stories, and our shared vision for a safe, healthy, just Texas.

20 seconds to get involved. Want to make change together? You can start NOW! Sign up for our e-alerts or invest in TCJE to make an immediate impact!

Want to learn more? Read our press release on the name change, check out an archive of our past policy work, or learn about where we’re headed for 2023.

Read less

Our Values

Our Values

TCJC is committed to advancing safe, thriving Texas communities. We believe in collective leadership, and in centering the voices and experiences of system-impacted people in efforts to reimagine justice. We hold ourselves accountable to the communities we serve through our advocacy, and we prioritize members of impacted and marginalized communities in our hiring and on our Board.

The values below lie at the heart of our work. They inform our overarching policy goals and shape our daily interactions with each other and with members of our communities. While each of us are individuals, we are also part of larger, interconnected systems, and it is only through collective empathy that we can achieve genuine safety, healing, justice, and liberation.

Read more

TCJC is committed to advancing safe, thriving Texas communities. We believe in collective leadership, and in centering the voices and experiences of system-impacted people in efforts to reimagine justice. We hold ourselves accountable to the communities we serve through our advocacy, and we prioritize members of impacted and marginalized communities in our hiring and on our Board.

The values below lie at the heart of our work. They inform our overarching policy goals and shape our daily interactions with each other and with members of our communities. While each of us are individuals, we are also part of larger, interconnected systems, and it is only through collective empathy that we can achieve genuine safety, healing, justice, and liberation.

DIGNITY & POTENTIAL: We respect and value each person’s inherent worth, abilities, and contributions. Solutions to harm and violence must be rooted in this recognition.

EQUITY & FAIRNESS: We believe that every person deserves the opportunity to thrive. Each Texan should have access to the individualized resources and supports they need to live a safe, healthy life.

ANTI-RACISM: We know that only by acknowledging the racist foundation upon which the criminal legal system was built – as well as how that racism continues to be perpetuated today – can we meaningfully uproot bias, promote intergenerational wellbeing, transform our communities, and prioritize true public health and safety for all Texans.

INQUIRY & TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGE: We value a persistent eagerness to learn, including from each other’s experiences, which will inspire and inform innovative models, strategies, and practices that most authentically address the needs of people and communities long harmed by systems that inflict trauma and pain.

Read less

Reimagining Public Safety

Reimagining Public Safety

Today, the very systems that drive mass incarceration are facing a worldwide reckoning. Global protests against egregious policing and racial injustice have narrowed the spotlight on historic abuses levied on particular communities and have brought TCJC’s mission sharply into focus. We fight to end mass incarceration and build safe, thriving Texas communities where every person has the opportunity to succeed.

Read more

Today, the very systems that drive mass incarceration are facing a worldwide reckoning. Global protests against egregious policing and racial injustice have narrowed the spotlight on historic abuses levied on particular communities and have brought TCJC’s mission sharply into focus. We fight to end mass incarceration and build safe, thriving Texas communities where every person has the opportunity to succeed.

Through work at state and local levels, TCJC supports shrinking the justice system, deflecting and diverting people from the cycle of system involvement as early as possible, and investing in our communities. We are not focused on policing alone, just as we do not focus on any individual element of the justice system. Our work looks at the bigger picture: how our bloated justice system is permanently harming people while wasting money at every level, and how that money would be better invested in equity-based resources and alternatives that give people pathways to wellness.

As part of our state legislative work, as well as our ongoing work on the ground, we have conducted extensive research on how our justice system can be transformed to save money and lives at every point of contact. This includes innovative, restorative alternatives to policing that will keep kids and adults from entering the justice system. It means sentencing and parole strategies that will reduce incarcerated populations without jeopardizing public safety, while saving the state significant money. It includes a reentry infrastructure that can improve outcomes and reduce re-offending after release from prison or jail.

This moment is an opportunity for a cultural reset, and that’s what we think it deserves: a top-down reevaluation of how our money is spent and how many of our dollars could be stretched further on the road to a future where every Texan has access to real public safety. It means radically rethinking our response to crime, as well as substance use, mental health crises, and trauma.

Although this moment represents a collective social acknowledgment of the harms perpetuated by policing and corrections systems, it is also the result of generations’ worth of frustration and fear. Repairing the historic and persistent harm done to communities of color—in particular, the Black community—by a justice system rooted in inequality will not happen overnight, nor soon enough. Past and ongoing systems of entrenched disenfranchisement and criminalization affect communities of color today in the form of disadvantages in housing, education, health care, and more. For many Texans, the feeling of being unprotected or outright endangered by our system of “public safety” is not the product of a single encounter; it is the culmination of countless damages, disadvantages, and destructions inflicted upon entire communities.

At TCJC, we hear stories every day of how our justice system is failing. Some of these tragedies make headlines, but many are confined to quiet phone calls or handwritten letters. One thing is clear: particularly for people of color, our system is not serving its stated goal of public safety.

Given this reality, changing practices or rewriting rules is no longer sufficient. It is time to re-envision our understanding of public safety. It is time to divert funding from the flawed institutions that have repeatedly failed significant swaths of the population. At the systems level, accountability means acknowledging these failures and actively working towards transformative change.

Reimagining public safety will require us to consider cycles of violence and trauma from start to finish. It means taking a holistic view of the toll that policing and incarceration take on families, and focusing on solutions that will prioritize healing and family unity—sparing damage, loss, and future justice system involvement for the next generation. It means rethinking the role of police as catch-all first responders to help reverse the pipeline of undervalued people into the justice system. It means deflecting people into well-resourced, community-based programs for prevention, treatment, or restorative programming. It means evaluating reentry as a process rather than a disparate set of challenges, and working to improve outcomes in housing, licensing, job placement, trauma recovery, and more on the path to success for individuals, families, and entire communities. It means listening to the needs of communities most harmed—working with crime survivors, formerly incarcerated people, and other directly impacted people towards accountability and rehabilitation, rather than punishment and perpetuation.

Reimagining public safety requires us to recognize that the institutions that make some people feel safe put others in danger. It forces us to acknowledge the direct link between inequitable systems and justice involvement. It demands that we approach complex social problems, and each other, with empathy. 

Reimagining public safety may be difficult for some, especially at these emotionally charged crossroads and during a global health crisis. But, if anything, this landscape proves how badly change is needed. If we invest in our public health and education infrastructures and prioritize the needs of communities, we can move forward together into a vision of public safety that is fiscally responsible and morally sound.

Texans deserve better, and we at TCJC are committed to fostering racial equity, insisting on accountable leadership, and building safe, healthy Texas communities.

Read less

The TCJE Team

Board of Directors

Join Our Team

Join Our Team

Job Opportunities

TCJE does not currently have any open positions.

The Texas Center for Justice and Equity is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will be considered based on individual qualifications, without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, familial status, military status, and any other protected class. We value diversity and encourage people of color, people with prior justice system involvement, and LGBTQ applicants to apply.

Contract Opportunities

TCJE invites you to put your talents to work for our mission! We have an open call to develop a pool of skilled contractors that we can call on to support various projects and activities throughout the year. If you’re interested in being considered, please send an email to Leah Pinney at LPinney@TexasCJE.org that introduces yourself and shares more about your particular skills and experience. Please attach a resume and/or one sample of your work that you think highlights how you could help advance our mission. In the email subject line, include which of the following opportunities you’re interested in:

  • Copy Editor [Ongoing, as needed]
  • Publication Designer [Ongoing, as needed]

Internship Program

TCJE’s Fall 2021 internships have been filled.

TCJE offers a dynamic and engaging internship program where students gain hands-on experience in areas related to adult and youth justice policy in Texas. For more information about this program, please contact Leah Pinney at (512) 441-8123 ext. 109 or LPinney@TexasCJE.org.

Board Membership

Board Membership Posting

TCJE is looking for individuals from diverse regions of Texas who are enthusiastic and available to share their own skills, expertise, resources, affiliations, and connections to advance TCJE’s mission. If you have any questions, please contact Leah Pinney at (512) 441-8123 ext. 109 or LPinney@TexasCJE.org.

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