In 2016, various advocates – including TCJE, Grassroots Leadership, the Texas Fair Defense Project, the ACLU of Texas, and Texas Advocates for Justice – began working with Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt and other local leadership on pretrial issues. We collectively provided her information and recommendations related to pretrial interventions and related reforms, and TCJE and other groups called on local leaders to invest in community-based programs and advance pretrial reform to reduce the local jail population.
In mid-2017, after Grassroots Leadership released a report revealing disparities in booking and in the number of days spent in the county jail by people of color, TCJE joined them and other advocates at a press conference, marking the second anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death in Waller County Jail. We again called on local officials to implement policies that will reduce local incarceration rates and racial disparities in the county jail.
Advocates also formalized a group, called DecarcerateATX, to continue to make demands regarding Travis County’s over-incarceration and racial discrimination. TCJE sat on the policy committee.