Vol. 16| February 2022
JAD and Harris County Extend a Warm Welcome to
the First Deputy County Administrator for Justice and Safety

Turner brings more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement and security operations in the public, private, and education sectors. Most recently, he has led the Houston Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as Special Agent in Charge since 2014, directing daily operations including all National Security, criminal investigative programs, operational, administrative, financial, and security functions.
Turner’s exceptional experience and dedication to public safety have prepared him to drive Harris County’s ongoing efforts to enhance public safety and reform the criminal justice system in support of the 4.7 million residents of Harris County.
Highlights from his 30-year tenure with the FBI include leading FBI Field Office management of security operations for Super Bowl LI, the MLB World Series, and Hurricane Harvey recovery and response, and serving as on-scene commander for the Santa Fe High School and Naval Air Station (Corpus Christi) active shooter investigations.
In 2015, Turner was a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, one of the most prestigious honors in the federal career civil service, which is only given to the top one percent of Senior Executives by the President of the United States.
Turner’s recruitment follows Harris County’s recent hiring of Dr. Tina Petersen to serve as Director of the Harris County Flood Control District (FCD); Dr. Milton Rahman who will lead the Engineering Department (ENG) as County Engineer; and Daniel Ramos who has been named Executive Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Welcome to the County, Mr. Turner!

Across the nation, states, counties, and cities are reporting across-the-board increases in gun-related violent crime. And here in Harris County, we are not immune from this alarming national trend. Many factors are at play, including a lack of common-sense gun laws that has led to unchecked weapons of war on our streets in the hands of people who should not have access to them. 
To fight gun violence in Harris County, we are investing in solutions that are both tough on crime and smart on crime. This week, we approved a new budget that invests $1.4 billion in justice and safety alone. This is the highest amount we’ve ever spent on public safety in County history. This budget ensures that we’re giving law enforcement the resources they need – like a raise for our Harris County
sheriff’s deputies and deputy constables, more overtime for law enforcement, and higher salaries and staff for the District Attorney’s Office. But the budget also makes sure we are addressing long-standing issues at the core of the crime wave, through programs like our Community Violence Interruption Program, which zeroes in on gun violence by helping those most at risk of committing crimes to escape gangs and resolve neighborhood conflicts peacefully by providing caseworkers that help with services like mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, employment services, and mediation. Or like the Holistic Assistance Response Team (HART) program. Fewer than four percent of 911 calls are related to violent crime – HART teams of trained social workers and behavioral health and medical professionals provide support and services to residents experiencing homelessness, behavioral health issues, or social welfare concerns, freeing up police to focus on violent crime. HART begins operations with the Sheriff’s Department this Spring, and we anticipate building several teams throughout the county over time. This month, we also kicked off the $50 million Clean Streets, Safe Neighborhoods program by tearing down a decrepit building that served as a haven for drug dealers and other criminal elements in Cypress Station. The prevention and neighborhood safety program targets neighborhoods with high rates of crime to improve visibility in residential areas, address long-standing blighted and abandoned structures, and implement other improvements shown to enhance public safety. 
These initiatives are not experiments. These are research-based methods that have a much greater success rate in ending cycles of violence than incarceration alone. Keeping communities safe doesn't have to be all about law enforcement, or no law enforcement at all. We don’t have to choose – in Harris County, we know we must do both. We’re investing in our public safety AND in strategies that build up our communities, which is the smartest and most effective way to keep our residents safe.
Lina Hidalgo
News & Information on Policy Work by JAD

The newly restructured Criminal Justice Coordinating Council met on January 27th. As the CJCC tackles Harris County’s justice and safety challenges, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, CJCC Chair Commissioner Ellis highlighted Harris County’s Justice and Safety Goal Statement: 

Harris County will promote safe, healthy, thriving communities through restorative and evidence-based strategies that foster public trust, prevent violence and trauma, reduce racial and economic disparities, and minimize criminal justice system exposure where at all possible.” 

At the meeting, the members discussed the state of the Harris County Jail, which is almost at full capacity, and the efforts to address case backlogs in the criminal courts. To clear court backlogs more quickly, Harris County has added Emergency Response Dockets for the Felony and Misdemeanor Courts, an Associate Judge Program in the District Courts, and staff for the District Attorney’s Office and Harris County Sheriff’s Office to tackle the evidence backlog.
The new structure of the CJCC, which has 17 council members and will include far more voices as committee members, will allow diverse stakeholders to address key challenges facing the criminal legal system.
JAD will support the CJCC members and committees to work toward a fair, efficient, and effective justice system.  
Be on the lookout for the next CJCC meeting to be announced soon! 
JAD is happy to announce the award of the second round of community engagement grants to three local non-profit organizations. The Tahirih Justice Center, Center for Urban Transformation, and reVision Houston have been selected as the second round grantees.

The community engagement grants aim to promote one or more of the following objectives:

  1. Preventing involvement in violent or criminal activity as either a perpetrator or victim among those who are at risk,
  2. Diverting youth or adults from formal system involvement at the pre-arrest, arrest, or earliest stage possible,
  3. Reducing the risk of reentry or re-involvement in the criminal justice system and,
  4. Contributing to community healing through restorative justice practices.

The Community Engagement grants are a critical part of our work as a site for the Safety + Justice Challenge. These grants are tools that support our public safety through advancing and investing in our nonprofit organizations in our community that provide support to Harris County residents. We anticipate work to begin immediately. The first round of grants were awarded in October 2020 to the Center for Urban Transformation, Tahirih Justice Center, and Beacon of Downtown Houston.

For individuals interested in learning more about the work of these grantees please contact Karen.Evans@jad.hctx.net.

Harris County operates one of the largest jail systems in the United States. And as part of an ongoing effort to minimize the use of jails for non-violent, offenders, reduce recidivism, and disparities, Harris County received a grant to work with the Safety & Justice Challenge(SJC). The Safety and Justice Challenge is a collaborative effort between John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and many partners and stakeholders throughout the United States.

To support Harris County’s vision to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, the Racial and Ethnic Equity Committee was created and assigned to be managed by JAD. The committee consists of approximately thirteen community representatives and four government officials. It is focused on improving education and transparency, developing interventions to reduce disparities, and advancing best practices.
As part of the Safety & Justice Challenge with Harris County, Karen Evans, JAD's Racial and Ethnic Equity Outreach Manager presented at SJC's Virtual Network Meeting earlier this month.

The theme aimed to unite criminal justice stakeholders on a path forward and share practices, strategies, and policies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic that should be examined more closely, replicated, or sustained. The Virtual Network meeting schedule was loaded with presentations and panel discussions from racial justice pioneers across the entire SJC network.
Evans had the opportunity to share JAD’s experience and success establishing and managing the Racial and Ethnic Equity Committee (a standing committee of Harris County’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council) by serving as a panelist on the ‘Creating and Sustaining Racial and Ethnic Disparities Working Groups’ discussion. Along with a diverse panel (see below) of racial justice specialists, Evans discussed strategies for establishing, operationalizing, and overcoming challenges to building community-centered and high-performing workgroups that address racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system. Panelists also discussed general racial justice work, for example, defining success within the racial equity space.

  • Karen Evans, Community Engagement Manager, Harris County
  • Kate Hoadley, Racial Justice Program Manager, New Orleans
  • Tenisha Stevens, New Orleans Criminal Justice Commissioner
  • Chris James, The W. Haywood Burns Institute
  • Moderator: Tom Eberly, Program Director, Justice Management Institute

Evans looks forward to future collaborative conversations with SJC's partners and stakeholders on reducing disparities in the jail system.
A Look at Policy & Partnerships at Work
Since its inception in 2019, the Justice Administration Department has benefitted from the talent and partnerships of interns. This year, we welcome three new interns from the Texas Legislative Internship Program (TLIP).

TLIP is an internship program sponsored by Commissioner Rodney Ellis which provides young civic-minded students with real-world experience. Commissioner Ellis created TLIP in 1990 because of his mentor, the late Congressman Mickey Leland, who stressed the importance of using one’s individual success to provide opportunities for others. Through TLIP, undergraduate, graduate, and law students serve as interns across government agencies. This empowers students with the resources to pursue careers in public service and learn valuable lessons about serving their fellow community members.
Summer J. Anderson, one of the three interns, works with the policy division for JAD, researching and compiling data from Harris County's criminal justice stages to create one source that will track data over time and support the team within their own projects. The weekly report will ultimately serve as a resource and directory for important information and metrics.
A second-year law student at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Summer is a proud Houstonian. In her leisure, she enjoys watching anime and long walks with her dog. Summer is ambitious, driven, and eager to find a legal area where her passions and concerns regarding the economic disparity in Houston’s public education align with her work.
Anderson learned about TLIP through the Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law campus by the distinguished Professor Douglas. He directed the TLIP information be disseminated to the student body, and later had a meeting to further describe the program. After attending the meeting, Summer became excited to learn about a program that would allow her to learn the inner workings of local government in Houston. 

After I learned more, I immediately wanted to be a part of TLIP and applied. With this opportunity, I am able to help my native city and learn a new area of law. By the end of this internship, I hope to attain as much knowledge from the team and create meaningful work to foster great connections and experience for my legal career," stated Anderson.

Now working closely with Harris County policies, she is growing to understand how to create positive initiatives on public issues.
Cedric S. Anderson Jr. is a TLIP intern that joined the JAD team and works alongside Summer in the policy division. Cedric currently works closely with one of the other policy team members conducting case law research on law enforcement use of force.

A first-generation law student from Natchez Mississippi, and a current 2L at Southern University Law Center, Cedric is a member of the American Bar Association, Black Law Student Association, and Intellectual Property Law Association. Cedric attended the University of Southern Mississippi for 2 years and then matriculated to Alcorn State University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Cedric is passionate about the racial disparities in the criminal justice system, specifically the juvenile justice system. Cedric has been racially profiled, and even held without counsel as a minor because an officer said he, "fit the description." This was one of the driving forces that pushed Cedric to law school.  
With TILP and the Justice Administration Department specifically in the policy division, I hope to gain insight on the process of solving pressing public policy issues that affect us today and strengthen my legal writing skills. I strongly believe that TLIP can help mold me into a more effective leader, writer, and contributor to the advancement of public policy in this high political climate with real-world experience on policy writing development for the Harris County Legislature,said Anderson.

Cedric learned about TLIP through a previous internship after expressing his interest in public policy. Cedric plans to sit for the Texas Bar Exam and practice civil litigation, IP law, and public policy in Houston Texas.
Alexandra Medina is a former 1L from South Texas College of Law and has started her TLIP internship, with the communications division for the Justice Administration Department, organizing social media posts, transcribing interviews, and designing promotional items. All these projects aim to bring informative and educational outreach to the public, media, JAD's partners, and stakeholders.
Originally born in Santiago, Chile, Alexandra lived in Brussels, Miami, and Virginia before moving to Houston where she completed her middle school and high school education. A member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, Alexandra graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations from the Louisiana State University Manship School of Mass Communications and received a minor in Spanish after completing a semester abroad in Valparaiso, Chile. In her free time, Alexandra enjoys watching children’s movies, singing her favorite songs, and taking walks.
I am very interested in public service and making a difference in underprivileged communities within Harris County. I believe this program complements my desire to serve the public by increasing my exposure and understanding of some of the most pressing issues facing our community today. Additionally, I am interested in exploring another avenue besides law school which would allow me to serve others in the public service sector, while still using skills I’ve acquired with my undergraduate degree in mass communications,” stated Medina.
Alexandra learned about the TLIP program after taking part in a fundraising initiative for Judge Lina Hidalgo. Through this internship, Alexandra hopes to strengthen her communication skills and her legal writing skills, as well as develop new professional relationships with other like-minded people. 
Insight into the JAD's Data and Analytics Division

JAD has developed and published a number of relevant works that can be found on the JAD website. JAD has also provided easy links to useful dashboards developed by other Harris County departments on the JAD website. A description of the many dashboards on the JAD website is below.   
The Jail Population Statistics Dashboard prepared by the Harris County Budget Management Department is refreshed daily and contains details about the current jail population.
The Traffic Stop Demographics Dashboard prepared by JAD with data received from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) allows viewers to see various metrics of the different outcomes and possibilities during a traffic stop. While the dashboard’s focus is Harris County, data across Texas can be seen as received from TCOLE.
The Court Appointments Dashboard was prepared by JAD to enhance transparency with Harris County court appointment practices and includes views of both felony and misdemeanor court appointment rates (private attorney vs. public defender) since 2017.
Harris County Indigent Defense Dashboard prepared by JAD provides data on indigent defense caseloads and fees for private attorneys and public defenders by fiscal year.
Index-Crimes Dashboard prepared by JAD using public data obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) provides crime trends over time in Harris County along with comparison crime rates from other jurisdictions in Texas as well as other large metropolitan areas.

Coming next month...the Harris County Bail Dashboard. This one-of-a-kind, public-facing dashboard will give a transparent look into the current bail bond practices in Harris County.
Support Survivors of Domestic Violence
The Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (HCDVCC) will be launching their 2022 Campaign to Increase Community Knowledge of the Intersection of Domestic Violence Cases in the Criminal Justice System. For this campaign, HCDVCC will be hosting a series of six deliberate dialogues with community partners in the criminal justice field (majority of which will be virtual), to discuss various domestic violence and criminal justice topics. 

Additionally, HCDVCC will also be inviting panelists from these dialogues to participate in the weekly HCDVCC Connects Facebook live meeting held every Monday from 12-12:30. These same individuals will be invited to participate in the Monthly HCDVCC Community meeting held on the 2nd Thursday of every month as well.   
The first of these dialogues will be held virtually on Thursday, March 31st from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. and will be a discussion with Pretrial Services (PTS), Harris County Jail Re-Entry Services, and Harris County Bail Bond Board. 

Additionally, the Director of Pretrial Services, Natalie Michailides, has been invited to speak at HCDVCC’s Facebook Live on March 7th at noon and discuss her and her work with Pretrial Services. 

You can register in advance for the Deliberate Dialogues: Domestic Violence Cases and The Intersection of Criminal Justice, here: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XzzqINSzSX28R3owpwmb0w
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The Harris County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) met for the second time on January 21, 2022.

Sonia Corrales, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (HAWC) facilitated a virtual meeting and the group worked on creating a vision and mission statement. The SART agreed to use two SART Toolkits including:

The group had a great discussion in breakout sessions and had the opportunity to report out on both the proposed vision and mission and provided valuable feedback. Sonia and Emilee agreed to resend to the group for final approval. 

The investment of each and every Harris County SART member is not just impressive, but inspirational! SART members have demonstrated that by working together, as a collaborative group, we can create the best infrastructure to better support sexual assault survivors, as they interact with all systems,” stated Sonia Corrales, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, HAWC.  
In The News
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