Vol. 4 | February 2021
Harris County, Texas, is striving to lead in criminal justice innovation in the United States. The efforts described in this NEWSLETTER represent JAD's work for the Harris County Commissioners Court, and only a selection of JAD's pioneering policy work. In the coming months and years, JAD will continue to build coalitions with local stakeholders, identify successful initiatives from other jurisdictions and forge innovative, evidence-based reforms from the ground up.
February marks Black History Month, an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as, African-American History Month. This month is a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that calls on all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in shaping US history. But how did this celebration come to be -- and why does it happen in February? To learn more visit: African American History Month. Gov
Effectively Managing the Health of the Harris County Jail Population During a Pandemic
By the Office of the Harris County Sheriff's Department in collaboration with JAD
Harris County Sheriff's Office
Ericka Brown, MD, MBA,FACHE
Program Manager, Public Health and Safety
Harris County Sheriff’s Office
Early during the pandemic, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez hired Dr. Ericka Brown to oversee efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in the state’s largest jail.

Dr. Brown implemented an aggressive testing program that has administered over 25,000 tests to people housed in the jail. The positivity rate ranges between 2-3%. The testing program combined with stringent quarantines upon entry into the jail, mandatory mask-wearing, and hygiene practices, has prevented the jail from becoming a COVID-19 hotspot. 

In concert with this effort, strict employee COVID-19 surveillance guidelines have also been implemented. Seven people housed in the jail have died from COVID-19, which places the jail COVID-19 death rate far below that of the County’s free-world population. Dr. Brown has recently collaborated with the Harris County Department of Health to administer COVID-19 vaccines to over 400 frontline healthcare and detention employees. She has also worked with the Texas Department of State Health Services to become a vaccine provider for the jail population.

We have been met with many challenges over the past year including increased population and court delays however, the medical and law enforcement teams have done an outstanding job at keeping everyone safe. In this ever-changing environment, we will continue to think of innovative ways to serve the needs of the population and offensively combat this pandemic despite our challenges.” - said Dr. Ericka Brown.

Harris County jails are running out of space and are fluctuating in numbers with almost being at capacity. Concerns of overcrowding are coupled with concerns and strategies being put into place to aid in keeping a COVID outbreak at bay and keeping people out of danger.

I am proud of the work our jail medical team and our entire jail staff ­have done to protect people entrusted to our care from the virus,” said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. “The rising jail population is an issue of an overall caseload crisis. This is a systematic challenge across Harris County that includes the courts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the many levels of justice. I will continue working with those who are in a position to expedite the adjudication of cases to more quickly resolve them in a way that is fair to victims, defendants, and taxpayers.”

As the jail continues to hold a high census of about 9000 inmates daily, they work closely with the Harris County Justice Administration Department, Harris County Public Health Department, and Houston Public Health Department to provide necessary support and resources to maintain a low COVID -19 positivity rate. Through weekly, now monthly meetings, all stakeholders are kept abreast of the needs of the jail and work collaboratively to address them. 
To identify potential defendants eligible for release and therefore decrease the jail population, members of Pretrial Services reviewed the criminal histories of 1,543 defendants in an emergency session over the MLK Jr. holiday weekend.

Working around the clock, PTS team members successfully identified 364 detainees with nonviolent charges and 1,151 detainees with bonds below $10,000 who were being held solely on those charges.
Ly Mai Vong (PTS)
The findings were forwarded to the DAO for review and recommendations. Harris County is working with the courts to help alleviate the jail population concern, which will help keep down COVID cases. Included in collaborating with Jail population control is Virginia Ryan.

As part of our work with the Safety + Justice Challenge Grant, an In Custody Jail Population Manager position was created in the Sheriff’s Office. In November 2018, Virginia Ryan took over this role here in Harris County after a similar role in New Orleans, where she was the Justice System Administrator (JSA).  As JSA, Ryan helped reduce the jail population by 32.9%. To accomplish this impressive goal, she addressed inefficiencies in the booking, processing, and release of inmates; reduced over detention through inmate grievances; and corrected processing deficiencies. Ryan was a member of the Jail Population Management Subcommittee of the Mayor’s Office and was the Coordinator for the Vera Institute Bond Review Project.
In January, she represented Harris County on a webinar presented by the Urban Institute and JMI through the SJC. The webinar discussed the role and the value of jail population managers and jail population review boards throughout the SJC Network; she was one of the 3 presenters.  Ryan described how she uses data from a jail population dashboard to create specialized lists to provide to judges to better inform pre-trial decisions.  The lists contain detailed information such as who has held and what type, how long a person has been in custody, type of charge, bond amount, and PSA Score, as well as other relevant information.  The judges use this information to determine whom they want to schedule for a bail review hearing or have Pretrial Services meet with them.  She also set up a process in a Joint Processing Center Courtroom for pre-trial arrestees who are being released on a personal bond to meet with a Pretrial Services Officer to sign the bond paperwork. In addition, she has set up a process for the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole (BOPP) to have access to individuals in custody on parole holds. BOPP sends her a list of individuals to be pulled daily to meet with a parole officer to decide if they want a hearing or wait to resolve the Harris County charge. This has cut the parole hold jail population in half since March. These processes have been crucial to use every day during the pandemic to expedite the release process and will likely continue after the pandemic.  

Here is a link to the Jail Population Dashboard.
News & Information on Policy Work by JAD
In Harris County, Government Innovation Fellow Gabriela Solis is embedded with the Harris County Sheriff's Office working with Assistant Chief Lee, Sergeant Lomelo, and Frank Webb to strengthen the County’s pre-arrest diversion efforts. Specifically, Solis is supporting the implementation of innovative strategies that enhance client engagement and connection to services at the Jail Diversion Center, the County’s mental health jail diversion program that serves as a resource to more than 40 Harris County law enforcement agencies, processing over 1700 diversions in its first year of operation. 

Solis’ work is focused on collaborating with Jail Diversion Center staff to identify client engagement and service referral challenges while developing strategies to create more client-centered services. Solis has led the effort to condense the client intake process to reduce diversion client wait time and create a client data tracking and review system to improve triage and service matching. These strategies aim to reduce intake barriers and strengthen client connections to case management staff supporting client transition back to the community, ultimately deepening the impact of pre-arrest diversion.

Government Performance Lab (GPL) Pretrial Services Incentive-based Supervision Pilot
By Hena Rafi
Following the implementation of Local Rule 9 and the increase in bail reform jail releases, Harris County Pretrial Services (PTS) saw exponential growth in the number of individuals under supervision. This increase has strained agency resources by limiting capacity to focus on the highest-risk cases and contributing to health risk to staff and clients.

One strategy to address this challenge is to right-size supervision levels by reducing the intensity and frequency of supervision required for clients who have demonstrated compliance with conditions. To do this, Government Innovation Fellows Lindsay Graef and Hena Rafiq launched a pilot program with six criminal court judges to regularly review compliance data and identify clients who are eligible to have their reporting requirements reduced.

To launch the pilot, the fellows introduced a new compliance tracking system at PTS, working directly with agency staff to enter standardized compliance data. Each week, the fellows regularly analyze the newly collected data and reduce reporting requirements for compliant individuals. The fellows also regularly track key metrics to understand the pilot’s impact on compliance, public safety, and cost savings. The pilot has now grown to include nine judges. In addition to reducing health risks and increasing agency capacity to focus on the highest-risk cases, this pilot also aims to provide greater agency and freedom for clients to maintain connections to the community while on pretrial supervision. 

Spotlight on Media & News Announcements
Charles Rotramel and Zarana Sanghani, Executive Directors of two service providers for youth, have co-authored an op-ed that went out to various media publications. This article reinforces the value of reinvesting new and unspent funds into grassroots services that have been shown to reduce youth incarceration. In particular, in Black and Latino communities that are struggling with economic and health disparities since COVID-19. Research has shown that for youth, being incarcerated can be harmful on many levels. Whereas, community investment instead of imprisonment shows a healthier and safer path for the youth and the community.

This article helps to demonstrate the need for a Harris County Youth Reinvestment Fund and the lasting positive impact funds would have on our communities. 

Charles Rotramel
Houston reVision
Zarana Sanghani
Acting Director
Center for Urban Transformation
How We Can Reinvest in Harris County's Youth
By: Charles Rotramel, CEO, Houston reVision &
Zarana Sanghani, Acting Director, Center for Urban Transformation
Without a doubt, 2020 was a year of devastation and loss — especially for Harris County's Black, Latinx, and low-income residents who were hardest hit by both the health and economic crises the pandemic precipitated. For those of us who work closely with young people in these communities, it was also a year that required thinking outside the box.
That's how the idea to start a Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund came to be. Harris County is poised to use a mix of new and unspent funds that would typically be spent by Juvenile Probation and redirect up to $4 million back to grassroots services that have been shown to prevent youth incarceration. Community members, advocates, and direct service providers — including the two of us — call on the Commissioners Court to approve the request at the end of this month.
At the outset of the pandemic, Harris County reduced the number of detained youth by 41% in two months. This reduction in the number of juveniles in detention magnified the already urgent need for community support to help our young people stay out of youth facilities for good. Groups like reVision, Center for Urban Transformation, and My Brothers Keeper, and others have boldly and aptly stepped up to provide access to educational opportunities, mentorship, and hot meals for these youth and families. And while there are fewer juveniles incarcerated in Harris County now than in at least 40 years (the actual date is probably much earlier), the juvenile crime rate has not surged. Keeping youth in their homes and communities while supporting them with meaningful services has proven to be a winning formula. It keeps families together, avoids traumatizing young people, saves taxpayers money, and leads to positive long-term outcomes. Keeping youth out of detention has also saved money that Harris County can now use to spearhead a deeper investment in communities most impacted by youth incarceration.
The reinvestment fund proposal isn't a gamble or an arbitrary investment. It's part of a bold new blueprint for youth justice that's been in the works since before the pandemic. Institutions do not own this vision. Instead, it starts in the communities that are home to many of the young people and their families. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo campaigned and won on the promise of meaningful justice reform. A Community Reinvestment fund is one way she and the Commissioner's Court can come together as trailblazers on an issue their constituents care about.
 An overwhelming amount of evidence shows that community investment promotes "a more durable, 'thicker' brand of community safety to replace the 'thin' kind that reliance on imprisonment provides." While incarceration often worsens youth behavior, community investments have been shown to work. One study even found that in a typical city with 100,000 residents, every ten additional organizations devoted to community development or violence prevention led to a 9% drop in the murder rate. One local point of evidence is that since March, only 12 youth supervised by reVision have been reincarcerated. This number represents at least a 90% reduction since 2019.
Meanwhile, the alternative — detaining young people in a secured facility — is extremely harmful to their well-being and has never been shown to improve public safety. Youth incarceration often worsens mental illnesses, dramatically increases self-harm risk, and is associated with poorer long-term health.
The need for the reinvestment fund couldn't be more urgent. Black youth are incarcerated at five times the rate of white youth, and Latino youth are 65% more likely to be detained or committed than their white peers. In Texas, Latinx youth make up over 40% of the young incarcerated population, and Black youth over 35%. Unfortunately, these are the same communities that have also been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. COVID-19 is exacerbating Latinos and Black people's economic and health inequities nationwide, particularly in Harris County.
The surplus funds that could jumpstart the community reinvestment fund are more than a COVID-19 silver lining. This is an opportunity borne out of policy innovation, tireless advocacy, and longstanding necessity. We don't just want to keep youth out of prison during a pandemic. We want to support their families, communities, and development so that we can keep them out of trouble for good. 
A Look at Policy & Partnerships at Work
Leaders of Tomorrow
by LEE Program & TLIP - JAD team

Marissa Bosley
Southern University
Law Center
Edrius Stagg
Southern University
Law Center
Xonzy Gaddis
The Harris County Justice Administration Department (JAD) has benefited immensely from its amazing interns' talent since its inception in 2019. In Summer 2020, Commissioner Rodney Ellis placed two policy interns with JAD thru Precinct Ones', Leadership, Experience and Employment (LEE) Program. The interns joining the JAD team were, Xonzy Gaddis, and Kamryn Linton. “Starting out with JAD was truly was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything else. Being involved in building dashboards, my previous disdain for statistics was overturned with the guidance of JAD team members. Everyone’s so willing to educate you on how you can be a well-rounded changemaker,” notes Xonzy, the longest-tenured intern in the history of JAD.  

Another internship program that has provided incredible interns for JAD is the Texas Legislative Internship Program (TLIP). TLIP was created to provide real-world experience to young civic-minded students and, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, TLIP’s sponsor (Commissioner Rodney Ellis) has still been able to successfully secure mostly remote assignments for this year’s class of interns that are designed to prepare them to be tomorrow’s civic and legal leaders.

TLIP participants receive academic credit hours for participating in the program, which combines their academic studies and research with supervised practical training.
Every legislative session since 1990, I have proudly supported the Texas Legislative Internship Program, which allows undergraduate, graduate, and law students to have the opportunity to serve as interns across government agencies. Programs like TLIP, which empowers students with the resources they need to take on internships in public service, create a pipeline for the next generation of public sector leaders. I hope that the TLIP class of 2021 is able to learn valuable lessons about serving their fellow community members throughout their internship, and I look forward to seeing how this experience informs their future career paths,” Commissioner Ellis recently said.

Since its inception, over 750 interns have graduated from the program, including JAD’s Senior Justice Policy Research Analyst, Lindsey Linder, who graduated from the program in 2015. Lindsey credits TLIP as being a springboard for her career, saying, “TLIP completely changed the trajectory of my life and provided me with the tools and contacts I needed to pursue a future in public policy.”  

JAD currently hosts three TLIP interns: Xonzy Gaddis (Grinnell College), Marissa Bosley (Southern University Law Center), and Edrius Stagg (Southern University Law Center).

"I am excited to join JAD this semester as a TLIP intern! It has been a great opportunity for me to improve my sense of professionalism and to be proactive in combatting systemic injustices in law enforcement and other areas of criminal justice,” said Bosley.

Since October 2020, I have gained so much knowledge as to the level of research and study that is put into creating policy. My university Chancellor, John Pierre, and my constitutional law professor, Angela Allen-Bell, suggested I look into the opportunity because of my desire to combat systemic racism. My greatest takeaway is there is no overnight fix to the number of issues we deal with and there are a lot of stakeholders working behind the scenes to affect change,” Stagg added. 

A day in the life of JAD’s interns involves truly staying on top of situations at all times. Mondays being by checking in with the wonderful policy team members and assisting JAD staff in completing projects through data collection and analysis, note-taking, scurrying to complete memorandums for submission to Commissioners Court, writing recommendations, conducting interviews and creating talking points. Tuesdays, we tune into Commissioners Court and watch for any JAD-related topics. On Wednesday, we check in with the entire JAD team and even get to present our own projects! On Thursdays, we dive into performing detailed research on criminal-justice related issues, including youth justice, alternatives to incarceration, non-law enforcement responses, restorative justice, independent law enforcement oversight board, participatory budgeting processes, racial disparities, and indigent defense and lead presentations and meetings around these topics to facilitate discussion and build partnerships with stakeholders (but this is an everyday thing!). Fridays, we usually get a reminder from Lindsey that our bill analysis on proposed legislation that’s been filed at the Texas Legislature is due! Sometimes, you might even be invited to help out on a rapid-response project over the weekend—the grind never stops! 

JAD's interns are truly grateful to Commissioner Ellis and his team for placing them with JAD. They also thank Jim Bethke, Ana Yanez-Correa, and the full JAD team for allowing them to work alongside change-makers in the community, impacting the work that will improve Harris County residents' lives!
Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab Supporting the County
By GPL - JAD team
Ana Billingsley
Justice Administration Department (GPL - Assistant Director)
Hena Rafiq
Pretrial Services
(GPL - Government Innovation Fellow)
Gabriela Solis
Harris County
Sheriff’s Office
Harris County was awarded technical assistance from the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL) to support the County in strengthening pre-trial supports and services in line with the priority reforms outlined in the ODonnell consent decree. The mission of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL) is to speed up our nation’s progress on difficult social problems by improving how state and local government functions.

The GPL hires full-time staff that it embeds to government agencies, typically for 12-36 months, to lead intensive reform projects. Once the embedded team identifies a reform that improves population outcomes, they support scale adoption through knowledge sharing, dissemination, and light touch technical assistance and support.

As part of this award, the GPL has embedded three full-time staff in justice agencies across the County to pilot projects on diversion, pre-trial release, and bail reform. The GPL Harris County Team includes: Assistant Director Ana Billingsley embedded at the Justice Administration Department (JAD), Government Innovation Fellow Gabriela Solis embedded at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and Government Innovation Fellow Hena Rafiq embedded at Pretrial Services.
*Pre-Covid Meeting
The Harris County GPL team has supported the Justice Administration Department in the rollout of ODonnell consent decree implementation to support inter-agency pre-trial reforms, created an interim transportation and housing referral service program to support persons released from jail at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, collaborated with Pretrial Services to pilot a new a change in supervision conditions for clients who have demonstrated consistent compliance, and helped the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Jail Diversion Center test new client engagement and service connection strategies.

"In Harris County, I’m supporting the Sheriff’s Office and Harris Center on interventions that try to interrupt the cycle of people in and out of jail or having police contact when what they really need is mental health treatment. In my work, I have learned that often people with the most contact with police are caught in both the homelessness and criminal justice systems. I think my background in helping run homeless shelters and doing street outreach to severely mentally ill people have been helpful in breaking down the silos that build up between these systems. I have been able to represent the sheriff’s office at meetings with the County Homelessness Task Force and regional homelessness coalition to advocate for the needs of this population." - said Gabriela Solis

A core component of the GPL’s approach to technical assistance is taking advantage of working side by side with justice agency stakeholders on a daily basis. In addition to meeting quarterly with each of the Harris County Commissioner’s Court offices, the GPL Team convenes frontline staff workgroups to generate ideas on project strategies and track progress towards improving client outcomes.
Data & Analytics News - Bytes
Indigent Defense Dashboard Guide 

A person who has been accused of a crime and lacks the resources to hire a lawyer has a constitutional right to legal representation at government expense—this is known as “indigent defense.” Providing criminal defendants who cannot afford an attorney with effective legal counsel is critical to ensuring due process. Still, Harris County has not always done enough to ensure indigent defendants receive quality legal representation.

To help enhance transparency and build public trust in Harris County’s indigent defense and court appointment practices, JAD has launched two data dashboards for the public: 1) The Court Appointments Dashboard, and 2) The Indigent Defense Dashboard. The Court Appointments Dashboard looks at indigent defense case appointments between private attorneys and public defenders from 2017 to the present.

The data on this dashboard is separated by calendar year and refreshed daily. The Indigent Defense Dashboard provides data on indigent defense caseloads and fees for private attorneys and public defenders. The data on this dashboard is separated by fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th) from 2014-2019.

To help the public interact with and interpret data from these data dashboards, JAD has created the Indigent Defense Dashboards User Guide. This guide includes step-by-step instructions for navigating the court appointments and indigent defense dashboards, and other helpful information that will help maximize the dashboards’ usefulness for the public (including definitions of common terms and underlying assumptions of the data).
If you have any questions about the dashboards or guide, please contact the Harris County Justice Administration Department by email at jad@jad.hctx.net

Download the User Guide {here}

What’s Happening Around Harris County
Managed Assigned Counsel (MAC)
by Kenneth Hardin, Executive Director, MAC
Sincerity (for blue), passion (for red), and hope (for white),” said Executive Director Kenneth Hardin when asked about the choice of colors for the logo of the newly created Office of Managed Assigned Counsel (“MAC Office”). “This office symbolizes many things in our ultimate task to design a more efficient court appointment system. Grounded in passion and through sincerity, we will create stairs of hope for clients who feel invisible in the criminal justice system,” Director Hardin continued.

Back on October 13th, 2020, the Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously appointed Kenneth Hardin to lead its new endeavor of establishing the County’s first-ever MAC Office—only the 4th of 294 counties in Texas to do so.  The goal of the Commissioners Court is to establish a defense delivery to achieve the benefits of public defender system independence, caseload controls, enhanced training, mentoring, and monitoring and performance while working with members of the private bar. So far, Director Hardin appears to be off to a fast start.

To date, the MAC office has already launched what Director Hardin describes as “only phase one” of its website. Additionally, Director Hardin has completed and received approval for grant personnel modifications for what will be an 18-person staff. The application process for two of those positions has already closed and Director Hardin is expected to name both an Office Administrator and Misdemeanor Division Chief & Training Director by the conclusion of the month.
With the helpful input from many attorneys and judges in our great county, we are moving along nicely but there is much work left to be done before we are operational," said Director Hardin. Director Hardin’s next immediate endeavor includes adding additional staff, finalizing office space within walking distance to the downtown courthouse, and creating focus groups for attorney input on supportive initiatives within the MAC.

The MAC also exists to support our attorneys. As a career public defender, I value their voices in order to learn how we can best serve our community,” Hardin said. The office website, which includes even more substantive information about the MAC, can be found at https://mac.harriscountytx.gov/.

Harris County Sheriff's Office Receives Certification on Safe Policing for Communities

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is proud to announce that the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has received Certification on Safe Policing for Communities from the Texas Police Chief’s Association and Department Of Justice as established by Presidential Executive Order 13929.
In July of 2020, during the review of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Department Policy 120 – Grant Management, Grant Manager Brian Schmitz and Sergeant Anthony Martin discovered a Presidential Order directing the Department of Justice to require a Safe Policing for Safe Communities Certification before granting money to Law Enforcement Agencies.
The order, dated June 16th, 2020, was an order to ensure Law Enforcement Agencies strived to provide transparent, safe, and accountable service to the community. To accomplish this order, the DOJ required a Standards of Certification by an independent credentialing body; for Texas that was the Texas Police Chiefs Association Foundation.
The standard set for meeting this Certification addressed two categories: Adherence to Applicable Laws and Prohibition of Choke Holds. Additional requirements were established for certification beginning January 2021. Those requirements included: Use of Force and De-escalation Techniques. Additional areas of concern included: Termination of UOF, Duty to Intervene, Training Protocols, Medical Care, Warning Shots, Shooting at moving vehicles, warn before shooting, and No-Knock Warrants.
At the same time of this review, the Sheriff’s Office Policy Unit was in the process of revising policy 501 – Use of Force. Before knowledge of this executive order, the Policy Unit was already in the process of addressing several of the concerns listed. The Policy Unit revised the policy to include choke-holds, discharging weapons at moving vehicles, duty to intervene, providing medical care, and other areas of concern.
The policy was then approved by Sheriff Gonzalez and the certification paperwork was completed. The policy was retitled to De-escalation and Response to Resistance and sent to the Texas Police Chiefs Association for certification. Thereafter, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office was recognized for meeting the Texas Law Enforcement Best Practices Recognition Program.
On January 19th, 2021, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office received notification it had met the certification requirements under the Texas Law Enforcement Best Practices Recognition Program and was in compliance with the Presidential Executive Order and Department of Justice guidelines for Safe Policing for Communities.
Harris County Reentry Program
By Jennifer N. Herring, MSW
Manager, Reentry Services
The Harris County Sheriff's Office Reentry Programs were created by Jennifer Herring in 2013-2014. The mission of the HCSO Reentry Department is to send people back into the community better than they came in. The key to a successful reentry process is to connect, collaborate and build a continuum with strong community partners; transitioning people back into their communities better than they were before they were incarcerated. Our goal includes providing justice-involved individuals a 90-day strength-based program designed to reduce recidivism, increase public safety and assist these individuals in becoming healthy productive members of society, using a holistic approach to transitioning individuals back into their communities.
Herring's role in the Reentry Department is visionary, leader, director, manager, and teammate. Our foundation is built on establishing a relationship of trust and security between client and worker. We also strive to provide an atmosphere of excellence through structure, discipline, responsibility, and accountability. Individuals are taught life skills, education, through an evidence-based curriculum, and provided educational classes in creative writing, parenting, finance, employment skills, substance use, trauma-informed care, mental health, etc. 
Every day we strive to assist individuals in finding their purpose in this life. We connect them to resources to strengthen their community, offer mentoring and support to assist them in their transition, and motivate and encourage them to become better people!
The Year of the Library
Harris County Public Library Celebrating 100 Years!
By Nancy Hu, Communications Manager, Harris County Public Library
In honor of the Harris County Public Library’s 100th anniversary, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the Harris County Commissioners approved a resolution this week declaring 2021 the Year of the Library “in celebration of a century of learning, literacy, and growth.”
In 1921 when Lucy Fuller, Harris County Public Library’s first Head Librarian, was provided $6500 with which to stock library stations in post offices, schools, businesses, and private homes across the County, she probably did not imagine that her eventual successors would preside over a collection exceeding 1.8 million items. Nor could she have envisioned that libraries would one-day house computers, 3D printers, laser cutters, family learning centers and that they would provide thousands of programs annually ranging from storytimes and cooking classes to escape rooms and variety shows. But through the succeeding years, HCPL has remained true to Lucy Fuller’s core mission to provide information and resources that enrich lives and strengthen Harris County communities.
The Year of the Library
Harris County Commissioners Court plans to proclaim 2021 The Year of the Library in Harris County in recognition of the library’s first one hundred years and its commitment to remain a vital and vibrant asset for the people of Harris County.
We see our Centennial as a celebration of the history of Harris County as a whole and especially of the everyday people who shaped that history,” said Edward Melton, HCPL’s Executive Director, “The growth, progress, and innovation you see in the library’s story over its first one hundred years mirrors that of Harris County.”
As the name suggests, Harris County Public Library plans a year-long celebration of its first 100 years and the people who shaped and continue to shape it.
HCPL Digital Archive
In preparation for the Centennial, HCPL librarians, for the first time, began systematically collecting and digitizing materials to document the library’s history. Their efforts resulted in the HCPL Digital Archive, an ongoing collection of photos, articles, scrapbooks, and videos of HCPL since 1921. Each month in 2021, the Archive will present digital exhibits to tell a specific story – bookmobiles, important people at HCPL, hurricanes, and other disasters. It will also feature each of HCPL’s 26 branches throughout 2021, with detailed timelines that trace the library’s century-long commitment to serve Harris County residents. 
The Library’s Story Is Your Story
Libraries change lives in big and small ways. HCPL staff knows this because people tell them about how an HCPL literacy tutor or just the right book at the right time has changed their lives for the better. In conjunction with the Digital Archive Project, the library, for the first time, will begin to systematically collect those stories. Early in 2021, the library will launch an initiative modeled on StoryCorps which you may have heard on broadcasts of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Patrons will record their stories with help from HCPL staff on Microsoft Teams and the library will collect and publish them via social media and the HCPL website.
What’s a Celebration without Music and Fun?
HCPL’s Programming Department and staff have been planning for the centennial celebration for months. Each month in 2021, the library will release a new original video highlighting each decade of the library’s existence. To go along with the in-house productions, the library plans to host live music performances—online for now—by local and national acts. The first of these will be January 20 at 6:30 PM on Facebook Live with the premiere screening of HCPL’s production of A Library is Born, a Chaplinesque silent film followed by a 1920s style hot jazz concert with the Boomtown Brass Band. In February, for African American History Month, in partnership with Apollo Chamber Players, two nationally known composers, Paul Cornish and Damien Snead, will debut musical pieces in celebration of the library’s first 100 years.
Our libraries are shared spaces where people from all walks of life are welcomed and encouraged to explore their own pathways to knowledge,” said Melton, “HCPL’s Centennial Year of the Library is an opportunity for everyone to share the sense of community we try every day to create,”
For more information about Harris County Public Library’s Centennial Celebration, visit www.hcpl.net. To watch HCPL's virtual stories visit, https://www.hcpl.net/page/virtual-programs
Thomas Goodman

Thomas Goodman was a seasoned fixture within the Pretrial Services team. He oversaw Sentinel, our partner in electronic monitoring services, and earned our deep respect for his commitment to service, dependability, and quality of work. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
Karen Montgomery

Karen had been with Pretrial Services since November 2014, assigned to the Midnight shift. She was loved by all who knew her. The dedication and joy Karen brings to her work earned the respect of everyone who’ve had the privilege to work alongside her. She will be missed by all.
JAD Will Hold the Next CJCC Meeting on
Next CJCC Meeting
Thursday, March 11th
12:30pm - 2:00pm