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More Voices=More Justice

Apr 30th, 2021 | Category: Lead Article

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’ll read some of the stories below about people who brought their stories to the capitol and endured hours of waiting to be able to speak out—to put on the record the real-life impact of the criminal punishment system on their lives.

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.

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