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Texas Impact’s Criminal Justice Agenda
Cindy Eigler

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What Do We Know About the Criminal Justice System?
Poverty

and a failing education system in many communities do not support an individual’s success. Racial disparity exists in the criminal justice system. United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Tremendous

The

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What Does My Faith Community Say?
 Section

164F of the United Methodist Church Social Principles:  "In the love of Christ, who came to save those who are lost and vulnerable, we urge the creation of genuinely new systems for the care and support of the victims of crime and for rehabilitation that will restore, preserve, and nurture the humanity of the imprisoned.”

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Texas Impact’s Criminal Justice Agenda
The

criminalization of individuals with mental illness
for and supporting recent reforms in the juvenile justice system

Advocating

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Roles for the Faith Community
Public
Public

Education
Education

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Administrative Segregation
Individuals

held in administrative segregation are kept in a cell for 23 hours a day, denied human contact, and generally are unable to participate in rehabilitation, education, or religious programming.

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Facts: Administrative Segregation

Texas is home to the largest prison system in the country housing over 150,000 individuals in 111 prisons throughout the state.
In 2011, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) housed 8,784 prisoners—over 5 percent of its total prison and jail population—in administrative segregation.

In 2011, the average length of stay in administrative segregation in Texas was 3.2 years.
In 2008, over 1,000 individuals from the TDCJ were released directly from administrative segregation into the community.

In 2011, more than a quarter of the individuals held in administrative segregation were identified as having a serious mental health or mental retardation diagnosis.

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Join the Movement!

Join with other faith leaders and Texas Impact to oppose the use of administrative segregation. Sign onto Texas Interfaith Leaders’ Statement on the Use of Administrative Segregation in Texas Prisons in the 83rd Texas Legislature and become part of the movement for change. http://texasimpact.org/content/sign-texas-interfaith-leaderstatement-about-administrative-segregation-83rd
Speak with your legislators about implementing third party review of administrative segregation practices in Texas.

Support upcoming legislation banning the use of administrative segregation for young people under 26 and for individuals with an Axis I or Axis II diagnosis.

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Juvenile Justice in Texas
 In

Texas, Latino youth account for 44% of the population, African American youth make up 13%, and White youth comprise 40% of the population; Latino youth are almost half of the referrals to the juvenile system, African American nearly 25% and White youth nearly 26%.
2010, 116,498 young people ages 10-16 were arrested in Texas and 86,548 were referred to their local juvenile probation department.

 In

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Facts: Juvenile Justice

Average age of youth entering the system is 15.
Eighty percent of youth were attending regular school or receiving home schooling. Most offenses committed by females are status offenses and men are responsible for the majority of misdemeanors, felonies and probation violations. 270 youth were certified to stand trial in adult criminal court.

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Facts: Juvenile Detention Facilities

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Seventy-nine percent of youth come from single parent homes.
Fifty-six percent of youth come from low-income families. Forty-four percent of youth have family members with history of criminal behavior. Seventy-two percent of youth need drug or alcohol treatment. The median reading achievement level is 6th grade, and median math achievement level is 5th grade.

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Eighty-three percent of youth has IQs below the mean score of 100.

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Recent Juvenile Justice Reforms

2007- law enforcement officers began visiting all TYC secure facilities to investigate complaints of sexual misconduct.
2007 March- TYC placed under conservatorship. Office of Inspector General and Office of Independent Ombudsman created. 2008- New executive commissioner appointed as head TYC and conservatorship label was eliminated. 2009- Significant legislative reform passed with a focus on providing more community-based alternatives to detention, prioritizing reentry support and services, and improving mental healthcare at juvenile facilities. 2011- Senate Bill 653 calls for the merging of the two State agencies responsible for juvenile justice, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission. The new, and unified Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) should better be able to address problems at ever level and provide a more effective and consistent continuum of services.

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Develop a Local Juvenile Justice Project in Your Community!

Organize a training facilitated by Texas Impact staff in your community.
Plan a visit to your local juvenile justice facility. Work with Texas Impact staff to develop concrete steps your community can do to support reforms. Participate in a community-based partners conference in the spring to share and learn from other local groups and become more effective.

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Other Important Criminal Justice Issues for the 83rd Session

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State jail reforms/closures
Reduce use of private prisons/jails Reduce licensing barriers and employer liability for hiring formerly incarcerated individuals Encourage use of policies and programs that decrease the size of the prison population.

Alternative to incarceration programs


Probation/Parole reforms
Drug courts

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An Opportunity for Change: Sunset Review of Criminal Justice Agencies

In 1977, the Texas Legislature created the Sunset Advisory Commission to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies. The 12-member Commission is a legislative body that reviews the policies and programs of more than 150 government agencies every 12 years. The Commission questions the need for each agency, looks for potential duplication of other public services or programs, and considers new and innovative changes to improve each agency's operations and activities. The Commission seeks public input through hearings and recommends actions on each agency to the full Legislature.

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Thank you!

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Cindy Eigler, LMSW
cindy@texasinterfaith.org 512-472-3903