Legislature finished, work continues!

Tell candidates to prioritize criminal justice reform.

You may be seeing this page because you tried to take one of our actions on an issue you support. The session is over. The chips have fallen. After lawmakers largely failed address drug addiction, reduce unnecessarily harsh sentences, limit unnecessary arrests, hold police accountable for misconduct or reform our money-bail system, it is frankly time to elect better lawmakers.

That’s where you come in. It is critical in this coming primary season for like-minded criminal justice reformers in both parties to hold candidates accountable to the principles of freedom, liberty, justice and equity that all Texans stand behind. Although this is a bipartisan issue, and both party platforms contain calls for significant reform, lawmakers have failed to stand up to the tax-payer-funded criminal justice institutions that want to keep pouring money into the same failed strategies that pay their salaries.

Texas spends more than hundreds of millions of dollars each biennium to cycle addicts through a system of incarceration that provides little to no treatment or rehabilitation. We send more than 7,000 people per year for possession of a controlled substance in amounts that indicate addiction. We arrest tens of thousands every year for minor pot possession.

The majority of addicts are re-arrested shortly after release because addiction is a disease characterized by relapse and Texas doesn’t provide treatment while they’re locked up. We must spend tax dollars more effectively by moving our tax dollars from paying for felony prison to funding treatment services for drug addicts on misdemeanor probation.

Meanwhile our jails are clogged with people who should not be there at all — traffic violators who couldn’t afford their ticket, people who have not been convicted of any crime but who cannot come up with a $500 bail fee, mentally ill people arrested because our first responders have no other tools.

If we are going to fix this system, we must start asking the hard questions of the candidates who ask for our vote — especially those in down-ballot races like judges, county attorneys, district attorneys, county commissioners and even constables.

  • What are you going to do to treat people with a drug addiction?
  • What are you going to do to reduce pre-trial incarceration of people who simply can’t afford bail?
  • What are you going to do to reduce costly and unnecessary arrests because people couldn’t afford to pay their traffic tickets?
  • Do you support SWAT reform, asset forfeiture reform, or any other reforms to police practices that restore Texans’ rights over their own property?
  • Do you support making minor marijuana possession a Class C misdeameanor and ending arrests for these minor violations?
  • Should police have a policy of de-escalation and training in de-escalation strategies?

More Ideas for Candidate Questions: Check Your Party Platform

Republican Party of Texas Platform
Texas Democratic Party Platform

We will be posting more detailed strategies for holding candidates accountable to the criminal justice reforms you support in the coming weeks. Thank you for staying engaged!