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Make the criminal justice system just for all Texans

The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world and is the only industrialized western country (besides Japan) that still imposes the death penalty. Mass incarceration is often fueled by a for-profit prison industry that lobbies for more crimes and longer sentences, even if the result makes our state less safe. Texas puts to death more Americans than any other state. If Texas were a country, we would tie (with Syria) for 8th in the world in number of executions.

Texas has the 4th highest incarceration rate in the country, and many prisoners are locked up for non-violent offenses like drug possession. Over-incarceration hurts all Texans, damaging children, families, and communities of those incarcerated for low-level, non-violent offenses. The lack of effective rehabilitation services makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the formerly incarcerated to start new, productive lives. Nothing about this system improves public safety.

The problems with Texas’ criminal justice system are numerous: over-incarceration; lack of medical parole for aging non-violent offenders; overly harsh drug penalties; ever harsher sentencing called “criminal enhancements”; private prisons profiteering off criminal convictions; the death penalty. Want to help put an end to these counterproductive, expensive, and inhumane practices? Keep reading to learn more about ending over-incarceration and the death penalty. The time is now for criminal law reform in Texas. See how you can get involved to ensure justice for all in Texas!

Reports and Additional Resources

Solitary Confinement
Conditions for Certified Juveniles in Texas County Jails, University of Texas

Private Prisons
Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration, ACLU
Dawson State Jail Report, Grassroots Leadership

Death Penalty
Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2011, The Year in Review, TCADP
Map of new death sentences in Texas, 2007-2011, TCADP
Struck by Lightning: The Continuing Arbitrariness of the Death Penalty Thirty-Five Years After Its Re-Instatement in 1976, Death Penalty Information Center
Smart on Crime: Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis, Death Penalty Information Center

Over Incarceration
Smart Reform is Possible, ACLU
Adult Corrections Reform: Lower Crime, Lower Costs, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Tools for System-Involved Youth and Tools for System-Involved Adults, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition
Texas County Resources, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

Drug Policy
Breaking Addiction without Breaking the Bank: Cost-Effective Strategies for Texas Lawmakers to Reduce Substance Abuse, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests: The War on Marijuana in Black and White, ACLU

Stay informed

Follow these blogs to stay up to date on criminal law reform issues in Texas:

The Liberty Blog, ACLU of Texas (Civil Liberties Issues in Texas)

Texas Prison Bid’ness (The Private Prison Industry in Texas)

Grits for Breakfast (Issues pertaining to Texas’ Criminal Justice System)

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (Death penalty in Texas)

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