Houstonians impacted by mass incarceration call on Harris County not to fund additional assistant district attorneys

February 11, 2019

Texas Advocates for Justice calls on Harris County to prioritize alternatives to incarceration to address needs in impacted communities

WHAT: Testimony at Harris County Commissioners Court

WHO: Texas Advocates for Justice, formerly incarcerated Harris County residents, and allies

WHEN:   Tuesday, February 12th, 9:30am

WHERE: Harris County Commissioners Court, 1001 Preston St, Houston, TX 77002

HOUSTON — Members of Texas Advocates for Justice (TAJ), a network of formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones across Texas, will speak to the Harris County Commissioners on Tuesday to express their opposition to Harris County District attorney Kim Ogg’s request for a $20 million increase in funding to hire more than 100 additional prosecutors.

“Harris County should be investing funds in the programs that keep our community safe and out of the criminal justice system in the first place,” said Dianna Williams, Houston organizer for Texas Advocates for Justice and Grassroots Leadership.  “Funding more prosecutors will only make the incarceration crisis worse.”

TAJ members have pointed to the disproportionate impact of prosecutions on communities of color.   According to data analyzed for a report that Grassroots Leadership will release next month, Black people comprised less than 20% of the population in Harris County 2017.  Yet, over a three year span from 2015 to 2018, African Americans made more than 45% of bookings into the Harris County jail and served more than half of all nights in the jail.  Investing in more prosecutors is likely to only deepen this impact.

TAJ members will also call on the county to invest in alternatives that keep people out of the criminal justice system in the first place, including increased investments in mental health treatment and deprioritizing arrests and prosecutions for low-level arrests.  

Texas Advocates for Justice and Grassroots Leadership are joining other criminal justice reform advocates including the Texas Organizing Project and Texas Criminal Justice Coalition in calling on the Harris County Commissioners Court to reject the request for $20 million to hire more prosecutors.  

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Texas Advocates for Justice is a statewide network uniting formerly incarcerated individuals, their families, people of all faiths, and allies to build safe and resilient communities through organizing, leadership training, and connections to community resources. TAJ is an organizing project of Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization are things of the past. Follow us @Grassroots_News.