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.


A Matter Of Life And Death

Obel Cruz-Garcia, a 46-year-old Dominican man who did not speak English, sat in a Houston courtroom on a Friday in July 2013. He faced a jury that would decide whether to sentence him to death for the gruesome killing of 6-year-old Angelo Garcia — a crime he has maintained he did not commit. His life, quite literally, depended on the outcome of the case.

Read the rest of this story from Huffington Post.

Why Do People Keep Dying in the Harris County Jail?

Like all teenagers, Fred Harris longed for freedom. At 18, he was small: 5 feet tall, 98 pounds. He also acted much younger than his age, which meant other kids bullied him. His mother, Dallas Garcia, told The Appeal and Type Investigations, “[He] didn’t understand, like, just extremely how different he was.”

Read the rest of this story from The Appeal/Type Investigations.

Texas bill requiring 10-year prison sentences for gun felonies faces opposition from criminal justice and firearm advocates

A Texas bill that would require a 10-year prison sentence for people who use a gun while committing a felony has drawn concern from two groups that aren’t usually on the same side of legislative debates: criminal justice reform advocates and gun rights groups.

Read the rest of this story from the Texas Tribune.

Bill would close youth prisons in Texas

A bill filed Thursday would abolish the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and shutter the state's remaining five secure youth prisons by 2030. Representative James Talarico, flanked by advocates and formerly imprisoned youth, announced the push to close the agency because of the cycles of violence and abuse within its facilities.

Read the rest of this story from Texas Public Radio.

Lawmakers offer stark choices for ending the crisis in Texas’ youth prisons — shut them all down, or build more

Long entrenched in a continuous string of scandals over child abuse and mistreatment, Texas’ youth prison system is broken beyond repair and should be shut down, according to a state lawmaker. In a dramatic proposal Thursday, state Rep. James Talarico announced legislation asking his colleagues to close the state’s five juvenile prisons and dismantle the agency that runs them by 2030.

Read the rest of this story from the Texas Tribune.

New Texas House priorities focus on brain health, juvenile justice reform

Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican, released three additional priority bills Tuesday. The new batch of bills dedicate more dollars toward brain health research, aim to improve the outcomes of youth in the state’s juvenile justice system, and address concerns among some Texas parents over content in public school libraries.

Read the rest of this article from CNHI News.

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.