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More Voices at the Capitol = More Justice in our Communities!

Apr 28th, 2021 | Category: TJP Newsletter

More voices at the capitol means more justice in our communities! Working toward that goal, Texas Jail Project is facilitating testimony by people impacted by the criminal justice system, women, those living with disabilities, veterans, and people of color. We hope you’re inspired by their efforts and will join us — see the call to action at the end of the newsletter and reach out to your representatives!

Goldie Van Zandt (left) spoke with Krish Gundu, TJP’s executive director, prior to giving eloquent testimony against Senate Bill 21. Herself a veteran, Goldie described how high bail was preventing her husband, Jerome, a Navy veteran of more than 20 years, from being released into a treatment program for veterans. Her story of his history and issues, was a perfect example of how this bill harms those who need to be in treatment instead of in jail.

TJP organized members from many communities—veterans, pregnant persons, people of color, those experiencing illness or disabilities, and those with low incomes—to speak out about challenges they face:
Glenn Hayes (top) 20 years old, traveled from Baton Rouge to speak to the committee about his experience being trapped in the Smith County Jail for 116 days without ever being indicted. TJP advocate Dalila Reynoso facilitated his release and journey home with funds from TJP’s community bail fund.
Don Wilson Glenn (left) spoke in favor of Rep. Jasmine Crockett’s HB 1352, which would require courts to grant PR bond or bail to end lengthy and dangerous pretrial detentions like the one that resulted in the tragic death of Don’s nephew Nathan King, held in Polk County jail on minor charges until he died of TB.
Cathi Cross gave powerful virtual testimony on behalf of her pregnant daughter who lost her baby in the Brazoria County Jail in support of HB 1308.
Jean Skinner (right in two-person pic) drove all the way from Denton to speak about her brother’s tragic death in the Denton County Jail during testimony on HB 20 and later spoke for HB 3447 along with TJP staffer Gabriela.

Texas Jail Project also coordinated the testimony of professionals with legal and medical expertise, such as 
Donna Broom, attorney (left in two-person pic) made a strong argument against HB 20 based on casework and a passionate desire to correct the injustices built into our legal system
—Allison Crawford,  PhD nursing student (not pictured) testified in favor of Rep. Mary Gonzalez HB 1308 which will ensure mental health care for pregnant people who’ve experienced miscarriage or other trauma in county jail.

Texas Jail Project’s staff all worked on coordinating and encouraging folks to come and testify in addition to writing and speaking themselves:
Diana Claitor, TJP Communications director, submitted written testimony in support of HB 2901, which addresses a growing problem—the disguising of deaths in custody—by creating civil penalties/fines, for officials who fail to report an inmate death in a county jail. She also wrote testimony on behalf of HB 1352.
Dalila Reynoso, community advocate and organizer for TJP spoke against SB21 as well as
Gabriela Barahona, program associate, gave testimony at the capitol in support of HB 3447,  a bill concerning the medical abuse and neglect in county jails. We also submitted four written testimonies from loved ones whose rights as medical decision makers were denied because of confusing and arbitrary medical information release processes.
Texas Jail Project and Disability Rights Texas created joint written testimony against SB 20.
Krish Gundu, TJP executive director, was invited to speak on behalf of HB 1092, mandating verification of veterans status at intake in county jails—an essential step toward veterans getting the treatment for which they are eligible. In addition, she traveled from Houston multiple times to coordinate witnesses and staff testimony.

Gabriela created visual aids for House and Senate committee members like this one that tells the stories of how these proposed laws can help or harm real people’s lives. 

We’ve spent the past three months exercising our voices at the Texas Legislature fighting for the rights of incarcerated people – can you join us today to take URGENT action against House Bill 20?

HB 20 would explode our jail population, deny thousands of people the opportunity of a moneyless bond, and line the pockets of greedy bail bondsman companies.

This bill would impose statewide pretrial risk assessments that are biased against poor people and people with disabilities by flatly calculating supposed “risk” instead of assessing needs.

HB 20 will hurt poor Texans by expanding cash bonds.
Call your State Representative NOW & urge them to VOTE NO on HB 20.
Don’t know who represents you? Find out here: https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home

Find their number here: https://www.txdirectory.com/online/txhouse/

Texas Jail Project relies on public donations to do our work on behalf of vulnerable populations in Texas county jails—those experiencing mental illness or living with disabilities, veterans and pregnant persons.

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