Today marks the first day of the 85th Texas Legislature, and we're gearing up for a fight. We are ready to stand with those who have felt the devastation of our mass incarceration crisis first hand. We will fight to protect immigrants and keep families together. SAVE THE DATE: February 1, 2017 criminal justice and immigration groups from around the state will converge in Austin for a march, rally, art exhbit and visits to legislators to speak boldly about what we are fighting for. We hope that you'll join us.
Our priorities for the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature are as follows:
Reduce Incarceration Rates and Close Prisons - Texas’ over-reliance on incarceration is unsustainable, immoral, and has a devastating impact on the low-income communities of color disproportionately affected by these policies. We support legislation to safely and meaningfully reduce the number of people in Texas jails and prisons. In particular, we support overhauling the state jail system to reduce the use of incarceration for low-level offenses. We support policies that allow for closure of prisons and state jails, especially the prisons that are run by private corporations.
Decriminalize Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders - Behavior resulting from mental health and substance abuse issues should not be criminalized. Instead, individuals who need support to stay mentally healthy should have access to affordable and high quality outpatient care.
Meaningful Reentry Policies, including Fair Chance Hiring - The collateral consequences of our nation’s mass incarceration crisis, including barriers to housing and employment, are far reaching and disproportionately harm the poor and communities of color. We support legislation that eliminates discrimination in employment, housing, education or other basic necessities for individuals with criminal history and we support cities that seek to end that discrimination.
Immigration and Local Law Enforcement - Local and state law enforcement should never be used to enforce federal immigration laws. We oppose attempts to compel law enforcement agencies to participate in deportation programs, including requiring that police investigate the immigration status of people they stop or stopping those they suspect of being undocumented; requiring Sheriffs comply with unconstitutional voluntary immigration detainers; or threatening to remove funding from cities or counties that prevent collaboration between immigration agents and local law enforcement.