Harris County Reform Work

Fighting for Better Outcomes for Kids

ADDRESSING THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE: We have been working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in Harris County. We have analyzed data on students impacted by school policing, which has revealed stark racial disparities and troubling spending ratios on law enforcement compared to dropout prevention, college readiness, and parent and community engagement combined. We also released a report on school policing with ONE Houston and the ACLU of Texas, and we joined in co-hosting a “Teach-In” to get community input. We are currently working with area school districts to promote restorative strategies that keep kids in the classroom and on a productive path.

SUPPORT FOR "RAISE THE AGE": TCJE has joined with a coalition of Houston-area faith leaders and other advocates to support “Raise the Age” – which would increase the age of adult court jurisdiction from 17 to 18, and treat kids like kids. Texas remains one of three states left to raise the age.

SUPPORT FOR DUAL-STATUS YOUTH: TCJE's Jay Jenkins served on the Steering Committee and Oversight Committee of the Harris County Youth Collective, which works to support kids aged 10-17 in both the youth justice system and child welfare system – seeking solutions that help young people thrive in the areas of education, wellness, and the transition to adulthood. NOTE: The Youth Collective transformed into Collective Action for Youth.

ADVOCACY FOR YOUTH DECARCERATION DURING COVID-19: In light of COVID-19's impact on juvenile facilities over 2020 and early 2021, we and our partners held regular meetings with Harris County leadership – including the Harris County District Attorney’s Juvenile Division Chief and the Harris County Juvenile Probation Chief – related to reducing the population of detained youth. We also urged the Probation Department to partner with and resource community-based service providers, increasing the local capacity to care for kids being released from detention. We are thrilled that, in February 2021, Harris County formalized this effort through Texas’ first-ever Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund (comprised of funding initially earmarked for juvenile probation, as well as $2 million from the county’s General Fund), intended to ensure that investments in alternatives to detention flow directly into communities most impacted by juvenile detention, enabling under-resourced local providers to meet the unique needs of youth and families in their neighborhoods.