TCJE Blog

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...

Bail Blog Series: The Chaos of Court Resets

Dissecting the criminal justice system in a classroom always felt comfortably analytical. Built on a foundation of logic and reason with the end goal of order and peace, the system made sense to me. It seemed to be a desirable and right institution in a very chaotic and wrong world. But this sheen of reasonability hides the system’s creativity; its loopholes and bureaucracy work like snares against those whose wallets are too thin to cut...

Bail Blog Series: An Introduction

Each courtroom in the United States houses an American flag. When judges bruise their benches with gavels, it happens under the watch of our stripes and stars. Like all the other neighbors in my sleepy Iowa town, naivety and the protection of middle-class suburbia let me grow up believing that the threads of our flag are woven with liberty and justice. The ubiquitous message throughout my schooling and in my home was that I didn’t...

What’s in a Name? How Words Matter as We Fight for Change in Dallas Schools.

It’s an old question: what’s in a name? When it comes to our work, words matter and names matter. Labels define who we are and what we do. This is the dilemma facing Texas schools today, where so many kids are in need of meaningful help to get them on a safe, stable path to fulfilling their potential.

In our work with Independent School Districts (ISD’s), we often hear about schools’ investments in “counselors.” On...

TCJC Statement on Recent Race-Based Violence

TCJC condemns targeted and police violence against Black people and people of color across the country and reaffirms commitment to racial justice.

While coronavirus has ravaged our prisons, jails, and communities – hitting poor people and people of color particularly hard – another epidemic has captured our national attention: race-based violence. The brutal images that have arisen in the last two weeks are burned into our consciousness: a police officer remorselessly murdering George Floyd in...

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