Vol. 5 | March 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.
President Biden has made federal resources available for Harris County residents, including financial support for uninsured losses to homes. Register now at 1-800-621-3362 or visit disasterassistance.gov
News & Information on Policy Work by JAD
One Year ODonnell Report
By: Bryonne Cummings, JAD
The independent monitors overseeing Harris County’s historic bail reform agreement filed their one-year report describing their work and Harris County’s implementation of the ODonnell Consent Decree on March 3rd, 2021. The one-year report can be found at https://sites.law.duke.edu/odonnellmonitor/.  
The key findings found in the report include:  

  • A gradual decline in repeat offending across the entire 2015-2019 time period.  
  • A steady reduction in the numbers of misdemeanor filings.  
  • A large reduction in the use of cash bail in misdemeanor cases.  
  • A reduction in race, ethnicity, and sex disparities in imposition of cash bail.  
  • A large reduction in the premiums that misdemeanor arrestees have paid in bond fees.  
  • An overall decline in pretrial jail days for most misdemeanor defendants.  
  • Increasing numbers of carve-out misdemeanor cases, including domestic violence misdemeanors.  
The independent monitors serve a key role in overseeing and supporting this work advancing a holistic, evidence-based approach to pretrial reform that has been missing in other jurisdictions in the past. Duke Law professor Brandon Garrett was appointed independent monitor last March and leads the seven-year monitoring project of the ODonnell Consent Decree. He works closely with deputy monitor Sandra Guerra Thompson, professor of law and director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law Center, with the intensive engagement of stakeholders. Also with Dr. Dottie Carmichael of the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, which includes analysis of Harris County data. 
Additionally, per the ODonnell Consent Decree, all parties recognize that the input and involvement of the residents of Harris County will be essential to meaningful and lasting reform and to encourage effective ongoing monitoring, and evaluation of the system. The Harris County Justice Administration Department (JAD) is committed to involving community members in the implementation and monitoring process. JAD began hosting semiannual meetings, virtually until further notice, in October 2020. At each meeting, a representative of each Defendant group and the Court Monitor must report on the implementation of the Consent Decree, including explicitly identifying areas of success and areas for improvement. The next meeting will be held the last week in April.  
U-Visa Certifications
What Are They, and Why Are They Needed?

By Veronyka James, JAD
Imagine being victimized and afraid to contact law enforcement because of your immigration status? 

Imagine reporting the victimization, and cooperating with authorities, but still fearing deportation due to your immigration status? 

This can be the reality for more than the approximately 412,000 undocumented immigrants in Harris County. 

In 2018, for the entire United States, there were 58,991 total U-Visa applications filed, and 4,308 of these were denied (7.3 percent); however, 228,764 applications were still pending (from both 2018 and previous years), and as a result, applicants could still face deportation proceedings. Further impacting immigrant survivors of crime is an inconsistency with how completing the necessary paperwork for a U-Visa is handled by the various agencies within Harris County. To assist the population of Harris County residents who may have been impacted by crime but fear reaching out to law enforcement Commissioners Court approved a motion made by Commissioner Garcia, Precinct Two

The motion instructed the Justice Administration Department (JAD) to draft a plan for the drafting of a model procedure for law enforcement agencies for processing requests for the completion of Form I-918B and the promotion of said procedure to local law enforcement agencies.   

The U-Visa was created as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000. Its purpose was to assist law enforcement agencies and encourage reporting by those who might be fearful of law enforcement due to immigration status. To qualify, a survivor must have suffered substantial physical or mental injuries from certain qualifying crimes (e.g., domestic violence, trafficking) and help authorities in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime. The U-Visa awards lawful status (and thus the ability to obtain a work permit) and a path to a green card and citizenship for immigrant survivors and their families.  

One of the eligibility requirements to receive a U-Visa from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the completion and submission of form I918-B or Supplement B (i.e., "law enforcement certification"). This form needs to be completed by a certifying agency (e.g., law enforcement, prosecutors) to confirm that the individual was victimized by a qualifying crime and is currently or will likely to be helpful in the detection, investigation and/or prosecution of said crime.

Completing and submitting Form I918-B is required to apply for a U-Visa, but it still does not guarantee USCIS will grant a U-Visa to the applicant. This is partly because USCIS has an annual acceptance cap of 10,000. Additionally, there is currently an immense backlog of applications; as of March 2020, there were more than 200,000 applications pending review. As a result, approvals take on average five or more years to process fully.   

To fulfill the Court's request, the Justice Administration Department (JAD) is examining U-Visa law enforcement certifications to determine appropriate evidence-based policies to support immigrant survivors of crime better. JAD staff have already met with various victim service providers, HCSO, HPD, and the District Attorney's office to learn the status of current policies on U-Visa certifications. JAD has also reached out to the Constables to understand their certification policies. 

JAD plans to submit findings and recommendations to Commissioner's Court later this month. Stay tuned to learn more about best practices related to the U-Visa process and ways,  we can better assist with the present inconsistencies surrounding U-Visa certifications that will enhance support to immigrant survivors of crime.  
Spotlight on Media & News Announcements
Assata Richards
Redefining Youth
Justice Coalition
Harris County Judge
Henry Gonzalez
Executive Director Harris County Juvenile Probation
Harris County Commissioners Approve First of
It's Kind Community-Led Multi-Million Dollar
Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund

Groundbreaking Fund will create a new public safety model that shifts money away from
incarceration towards youth programs and services

By: Laura Lucas, JAD
The Harris County Commissioners Court approved on Tuesday a groundbreaking multi-million dollar Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund. The first of its kind in Texas, the Fund will re-envision public safety for youth in Harris County by investing in community programs that keep youth from becoming involved in crime and prevent youth incarceration. The Fund aims to address racial disparities in juvenile detention and is part of a bold new approach to justice that begins with investing in communities impacted by incarceration.

"The Reinvestment Fund is part of a groundbreaking vision for youth justice — a vision that institutions do not own. Instead of maintaining the punitive status quo, this Fund will help to directly invest in the communities that are home to many Black and Latinx youth and families that have been neglected for far too long," said Assata Richards, Redefining Youth Justice Coalition.

"The future of our county depends on our children. We've taken steps to invest in early childhood education, and we must also take steps to ensure that children who become involved in the justice system are not thrown away by our society. Evidence shows that alternatives to incarceration for kids lead to better safety outcomes and more productive future citizens. We will continue our commitment to evidence-based decisions when it comes to making our community safer. This is about making sure that kids involved in the justice system are held accountable, but are also given an opportunity to become productive members of our society. The Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund is another important piece of our work to reshape the justice system in ways that improve public safety and address inequity at the same time," stated Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who voted in favor of the Fund.

The Reinvestment Fund is comprised of funds initially earmarked for juvenile probation, as well as $2 million from the county's General Fund. The Fund will invest in grassroots service providers based in neighborhoods most impacted by the juvenile justice system and employ staff who reflect the youth and families they serve. The Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, which has been a partner in this effort, is fully committed to this innovative approach.

Multiple organizations and individuals with first-hand experience made their voices heard in Commissioners' Court to support the Fund. Directly impacted youth and families, youth-serving organizations and advocates, and government officials supported the Youth Justice Reinvestment Fund as part of a new vision for youth justice in Harris County. Over 60 signatories sent a letter of support to the Commissioners. Many of these supporters have been working with the Justice Administration Department, as well as the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, to find alternatives to youth incarceration even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the need for the Reinvestment Fund became more evident as the pandemic became lethal for people confined in prisons and jails.

"Our department is committed to working with community groups to ensure Harris County youth will be served by those who know them best and are from their community," said Henry Gonzales, Executive Director of the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. "This new fund will allow us to continue doing this in a more robust and streamlined manner and increase community capacity to help more Black and Latinx youth stay on the right track."

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.

This initiative will also contribute to prevention work for youth and families to entering typically poverty systems, by re-engaging them to employment and education (opportunity youth), and supported with services like mental health, typically protective factors to avoid landing in extremes events (e.g., homelessness).

The Justice Administration Department is now facilitating an accessible "get-ready" period to prepare interested organizations to bid on contracts to serve as the Fund's backbone organization and third-party evaluator. Once hired, the backbone organization will select grassroots service providers to fund, strengthen and coach for the pilot project's duration.
In the News
Media Articles
Judge Lina Hidalgo named a "Leader" in TIME Magazine's, 2021 NEXT 100 List
TIME Magazines, 100 Next, is an annual list that serves as an extension to the Time100 list. This list aims to highlight "the 100 individuals who are shaping the future of their fields and defining the next generation of leadership in business, entertainment, health and science, sports, activism, and more," and they've recognized Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo as a leader.
In the profile, written by Beto O'Rourke, former Texas Congressman, he states that "It's hard to imagine a tougher set of circumstances to confront in your first term in office, but she has really distinguished herself and makes us proud,"

To read the article in full click here: 2021 TIME100 Next
A Look at Policy & Partnerships at Work
Criminal History Dissemination 

By: JoAnne Musick and Bryonne Cummings 
Local Rule 9 and the ODonnell Consent Decree require any information that is relied upon by a hearing officer, must also be provided to the public defender in advance, to allow adequate preparation for misdemeanor pretrial (15.17) hearings.

While the Harris County District Attorney’s Office (DAO) was not a party to ODonnell, they championed a project to electronically provide public defenders, and eventually defense attorneys in the assigned court, the ability to obtain criminal history before misdemeanor pretrial hearings. DAO personnel spent months attempting to find a resolution that would not run afoul of Texas’ Department of Public Safety (DPS) rules and regulations related to disclosures. Eventually, the Justice Administration Department (JAD) was able to break a barrier at DPS so that the DAO could lawfully begin providing such service. Coincidently, as that barrier was cleared, DAO had just completed programming for a new Intake with their eCharge application creating a streamlined, paperless, and fully electronic intake system.

With eCharge in production, the DAO had the base architecture to offer enhancements to begin providing criminal histories to the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) and hearing officers for the 15.17 hearings. 
With the assistance of JAD, Commissioner’s Court agreed to fund an overtime project for DAO programmers to build the enhancements. With a short window of 4 weeks, the DAO delivered the beginning of electronic delivery of criminal histories beginning January 30, 2021.

eCharge is largely the brainchild of DAO Software Engineer Evan Peterson, in conjunction with Litty Thomas. Evan Peterson, Litty Thomas, and other DAO team members worked tirelessly to move this project forward and meet the February 1 deadline. In the weeks following February 1, Evan, Litty, and the team will continue to enhance eCharge with the ultimate goal of functional dashboards for PDO and magistrates to locate key information regarding criminal history in a timely and on-demand manner. 
Evan Peterson
DAO Software Engineer
Our defenders now have the same information as the hearing officers and assistant district attorneys. This was necessary so that we could effectively do our job in mitigating harm to our clients.” Bainum added that “the ODonnell Consent Decree protects all members of our community in the event they are accused of a crime. The presumption of innocence means nothing without notice and a fair hearing, so the Decree requires that the 'arrestee have access to all of the evidence and information considered at the bail hearing, including any criminal history from the National Crime Information Center (‘NCIC’) and Texas Crime Information Center (‘TCIC’).' Particularly where liberty is at stake, due process demands that the individual have the opportunity not only to advance their position but to correct or contradict arguments and evidence offered by the government.
What’s Happening Around Harris County
Pretrial Services

by Jim Bethke, Interim Director of Pretrial Services
Heeding the advance guidance from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo to take immediate action to prepare for what became one of the worst winter storms in the history of Harris County, a group of dedicated pretrial service officers reported to work on Valentine’s Day, Sunday, February 14 with toothbrushes, change of clothes, and other essentials for a prolonged stay at the Joint Processing Center, the Family Law Center, and Criminal Justice Center to ensure pretrial services operations would not be interrupted. 

I commend Troyce Carter, Division Manager, Pretrial Screening for having his team prepared. I also want to acknowledge and thank the following pretrial service officers for working exceedingly long hours under extremely challenging circumstances: 
  • Alma Alvarado 
  • Carolina Castro 
  • Rosa Compean 
  • Janessa DeLaCruz 
  • Estella Fisher
  • Mike Freitag 
  • Gabby Gaines 
  • Rebeka Gonzalez
  • Wanisha Harris 
  • Dwayne Harrison 
  • Nicole Haynes 
  • Aldo Martinez 
  • Francisco Martinez 
  • Lauro Martinez 
  • Elvis McBride
  • Henry Mun 
  • Aurreana Pillow 
  • Shenequa Stone 
  • Sydney Tyrone 
  • Jocelyn Williams 
  • Terri Williams 
  • Luis Zelay
Your efforts showed extraordinary commitment to the administration of justice in Harris County. Thank you.
COVID-19 Continues to be
Number One Health Concern

by the Office of Harris County Public Health

COVID-19 is still infecting and making people in our community sick. Hospitalizations and cases are declining, but it’s too early to tell if this will continue. Vaccines are our newest tool for fighting the virus, though supplies are limited.

Currently two groups are being vaccinated, health care workers (1As) and people over 65 or those with underlying health conditions (1Bs). HCPH offers free vaccine clinics throughout the county and is supporting the federal government’s new Community Vaccination Center (CVC) at NRG Park. Partners include FEMA, the United States Air Force, Precinct 1 Constables, and NRG. Up to 6,000 people, a day can be vaccinated during the next six weeks which is augmenting existing local vaccination efforts. The Moderna vaccine is being provided at HCPH sites, and the Pfizer vaccine is being administered at NRG Park. People in the eligible groups are being pulled from the Harris County and City of Houston waitlists.

Register for the county waitlist at www.readyharris.org or call 832-927-8787.

To be added to the City of Houston waitlist visit https://houstonemergency.org/covid-19-vaccines/ or call 832-393-4220.

Even if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you can still protect yourself and your family. Wash your hands frequently, continue to wear a mask and stay six feet from people you don’t live with, and get tested at one of HCPH’s free testing sites. Register at hcphtx.org or call 832-927-7575.

For data on local COVID-19 efforts visit https://covid-harriscounty.hub.arcgis.com/
Commissioner Garcia and Baylor Unveil Second

By Office of Commissioner Precinct 2 - Commissioner Garcia
Earlier this year, Commissioner Adrian Garcia along with Baylor College of Medicine and UHPHealth unveiled the second ACCESS2HEALTH Smart Pod™ in Precinct 2. The Smart Pods™ are adaptable and mobile health care structures designed by Baylor College of Medicine Originally created to treat the Ebola outbreak in Africa. The units installed in Precinct 2 are the first to be located inside the United States.
With all the debate over our state and nation’s health care future, we decided to take matters into our own hands, bringing services directly to the Precinct 2 Community. Harris County is home to the finest medical center in the nation. However, many residents of Precinct 2 cannot access services from The Texas Medical Center. My goal was to bring all the resources of the Texas Medical Center into our neighborhoods.  That’s what makes these SmartPod ACCESS2HEALTH units so great. We can provide free access to health care services to places where they are needed most. It fills my heart with pride that Precinct 2 innovates in ways that help traditionally underserved areas,” said Commissioner Garcia.
Currently, the ACCESS2HEALTH Smart Pods™ are being used for COVID-19 testing performed by UHPhealth, however, in the future, it may support the distribution of vaccines once they become more readily available.
To set up an appointment to get free Nasal Swap Covid-19 testing, visit covid.uhphealth.org or call (346) 280-4133 (phone line is only operational Monday through Saturday, 8 AM - 3 PM).

Town Hall - Precinct 3

By Office of Commissioner - Precinct 3 - Tom Ramsey
On Jan 1., Commissioner Ramsey took office as the newest Harris County Commissioner. Not one to sit on the sidelines, the civil engineer turned civil servant began addressing Precinct 3 concerns.

Harris Co. Constables, a Houston City Council member, community leaders, Crime Stoppers of Houston, and a representative from the District Attorney’s office joined Pct. 3 residents and Commissioner Ramsey in a January “Crime and Safety” town hall. The live-streamed event gave each an opportunity to discuss the rising crime statistics from their point of view. The evening concluded with suggestions and proposals to improve awareness and the safety of families in Harris County.

In February, before the Commissioners Court voted on the budget, Commissioner Ramsey hosted another live event, Tom Talks, with David Berry, the Executive Director of Budget Management at Harris County. Viewers were invited to submit questions as the two discussed what would be voted on, how much was being budgeted for various departments and projects, and the reasoning behind the numbers.

In March, Commissioner Ramsey will appear in another town hall hosted by Houston City
Councilman Edward Pollard of District J to talk about flooding in the district and how the county can help prevent future problems.

Believing that you must listen first before you can serve and act, Commissioner Ramsey began the town halls as a way to reach out to Pct. 3 residents and give them a voice in county government. The response has been positive with future town halls being scheduled.
Jury Trials During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Stephanie Armand, JAD
The National Center for State Courts on February 22, 2021, released a brief on “Constitutional Concerns Related to Jury Trials During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”  The brief identifies the constitutional issues when courts have either suspended jury trials or have adjusted jury trial procedures to minimize public health risks to the jurors, staff, and court officers.  The purpose of the document is to guide court leaders in developing a plan to resume jury trials in their jurisdiction. 

In Harris County just as across the state, jury trials were suspended in mid-March.   Early on in the pandemic, the Harris County Judiciary along with the District Clerk led the charge in planning and identifying a venue where jury assembly and voir dire could resume safely.   They collaborated with internal stakeholders including Harris County Public Health and external with the Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) 

In July of 2020, Harris County entered into an agreement with NRG to conduct jury operations at the NRG Arena through mid-February.  A limited number of trials were held in August and September with the approval of the local administrative judge, regional presiding judge, and the OCA. The OCA observed jury trials here and other counties to develop guidance and issued a report in August 2020 based on those observations.  The judiciary created a jury proceeding plan based on the OCA guidance that was approved by the Regional Presiding Judge and the OCA on October 1st, 2020.  

The jury operations have been successful and Harris County renewed the NRG agreement to resume jury operations after Rodeo activities beginning March 29th through October 2021. 
An Update on the 87th Texas Legislative Session 
Key Justice Bills to Watch During 
the Legislative Session 
Texas’ 87th Legislative Session is underway, and so far 4,100 bills have been filed. Hundreds of these bills directly or indirectly impact Harris County residents.
JAD’s Policy and Research Division is monitoring justice-related proposed legislation in coordination with Ender Reed, Director, Harris County Intergovernmental and Global Affairs, and his team. So far, JAD has reviewed more than 600 bills. The last day of the 87th Regulation Session (sine die) is Monday, May 31. The governor then has until Sunday, June 20 to sign or veto bills passed during the regular session.
We appreciate all of the work the Intergovernmental and Global Affairs Department does to represent Harris County and JAD is happy to be a resource to their amazing team. 
Governor Abbott has highlighted six emergency legislative priorities:  
  • Broadband internet access for all Texans  
  • Laws prohibiting cities from defunding police  
  • Laws keeping people who accused of violent/repeat offenses from being released on bail  
  • Election integrity laws  
  • Legal liability protection for businesses operating in good faith during COVID-19  
  • Reforming the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)  
Additionally, Governor Abbott has highlighted the following legislative budget priorities:  
  • Access to COVID-19 Vaccines and Monoclonal Antibody Therapeutics 
  • Healthcare Access for Texans with Preexisting Conditions 
  • Availability of Teleservices and Expanding Access to Broadband 
  • Compliance with the Federal Foster Care Lawsuit 
  • Law Enforcement Access to Training 
  • Additional Body Cameras for Peace Officers 
  • Capitol Security 
  • Reforming Bail  
  • Election Integrity 
  • Learning Loss Due to COVID-19 
  • Broad Foundation for Civics Knowledge 
  • Attracting Jobs to Texas 
Bills to Watch: Of proposed legislation thus filed, below are some criminal and youth justice bills that might be of interest to Harris County residents.  
Proposed Changes to Policing  
HB 88 (Thompson): Relating to interactions between law enforcement and individuals detained or arrested on suspicion of the commission of criminal offenses, witnesses to the commission of those offenses, and other members of the public, to peace officer liability for those interactions, and to the confinement, conviction, or release of detained or arrested individuals. What it would do: Known as the “George Floyd Act,” this legislation would set limits on police use of force and improve transparency and accountability for local law enforcement. 
HB 1784 (Thierry): Relating to prohibiting the use of certain techniques when using force to make an arrest or search. What it would do: Would prohibit law enforcement officers from applying any technique that limits a person’s ability to breathe while making an arrest or detention of a person. 
HB 1750 (Crockett): Relating to the use of force or deadly force in defense of a person. What it would do: Would prohibit individuals responsible for determining self-defense from considering whether the subject of force was involved with criminal activity at the time of the event as a justification for use of force or deadly force. 
HB 1396 (White): Relating to law enforcement agencies and policies and procedures affecting peace officers. What it would do: Would require the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to collect, organize, and develop a database and publish a yearly report on peace officer misconduct and criminal activity. 
SB 352 (Miles): Relating to the suspension of the license of a dishonorably discharged law enforcement officer. What it would do: Would require the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to suspend a peace officer’s license on the first dishonorable discharge from a law enforcement agency, rather than the second or additional dishonorable discharge.
HB 741 (Allision): Relating to voter approval of a county or municipal budget that reduces by a certain percentage the amount allocated to provide fire protection, law enforcement, or emergency medical service. What it would do: Would limit a government body’s ability to determine budgets based on income and expenditure when deciding to reduce an emergency service’s budget by greater than five percent, and would trigger a jurisdiction-wide general vote from the population to accept or reject the budget reduction, regardless of other budgeting decisions.  
Proposed Changes to Bail 
SB 21 (Huffman): Relating to expanding circumstances wherein a defendant is not eligible to be released on a personal bond. What it would do: It would significantly expand circumstances wherein a defendant is not eligible to be released on a personal bond, including if the defendant has, in the preceding two years, failed to appear after being released on personal bond or has had a bond found to be insufficient; is charged with committing any offense while released on bail for another offense; was convicted of any felony offense in the preceding three years or any Class A or Class B misdemeanor offense in the preceding year; is currently charged with multiple offenses, regardless of whether the offenses are pending before the same court; is charged with an offense that involves possession of four or more grams of a controlled substance; and more. Additionally, the bill would subject charitable bail organizations to various rules and restrictions, and it would make various other procedural changes with regards to bail.
HB 955 (Dutton): Relating to the release on bail of a person charged with a violation of parole or mandatory supervision. What it would do: Would allow a person charged with violating parole or mandatory supervision to receive a personal bond, provided the defendant meets specified criteria (risk, etc.). 
SB 532 (Bettencourt): Relating to the release of certain defendants on personal bond or on bail. What it would do: Would prevent judges from being allowed to release a defendant on a personal bond if they committed another offense (any offense) while on personal bond and sets minimum bail for defendants facing multiple felony charges at $10,000. 
Proposed Changes to Indigent Defense 
HB 743 (Collier): Relating to a maximum allowable caseload for certain attorneys. What it would do: Would ensure that indigent defense appointments do not result in the applicable attorney having a caseload larger than a maximum allowable caseload established by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.
HB 277 (Collier): Relating to the appointment of counsel to represent indigent defendants in criminal cases. What it would do: Would require the appointment of counsel to represent an indigent defendant at the defendant’s first appearance before the court.  
Proposed Changes to Youth Justice 
HB 486 (Wu) and SB 85 (Miles): Relating to the age of criminal responsibility and to certain substantive and procedural matters related to that age. What it would do: Would raise the age of automatic adult criminal responsibility from 17-years-old to 18-years-old and raises juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17-year-olds. 
HB 1783 (White): Relating to the age of a child at which a juvenile court may exercise jurisdiction over the child and to the minimum age of criminal responsibility. What it would do: Would raise the lower age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 10-years-old to 13-years-old.  
HB 62 (Talarico): Relating to the use of disciplinary alternatives to suspension by a school district and the creation of the restorative justice coordinating council. What it would do: Would expand restorative justice practices in schools. 
HB 488 (Wu): Relating to requirements for a juvenile’s appearance in a judicial proceeding. What it would do: Would ban in-court youth shackling (with some exceptions for safety), and would allow minors to wear their own clothing, instead of having to wear a correctional facility uniform, for court appearances.    
Proposed Changes to Victim Services 
HB 302 (Collier): Relating to the prosecution of the offense of sexual assault. What it would do: This bill would add incapacitated sexual assault and instances where consent was withdrawn to the Penal Code. 
HB 210 (Meza): Relating to requiring a person convicted of an offense involving family violence or a person who is the subject of a family violence protective order to surrender firearms owned by the person. What it would do: Would require individuals convicted of family violence or who are subject to a restraining order due to family violence to surrender their firearms and/or prohibits them from purchasing firearms.  
HB 164 (Meza): Relating to extreme risk protective orders. What it would do: Would allow for the filing of extreme risk protective orders, would require an individual deemed to be an "immediate and present danger" to surrender their firearms, and would prevent an individual deemed to be an “immediate and present danger” from purchasing firearms.    
Other Bills to Watch 
HB 1307 (Gonzalez): Relating to the care of pregnant women in county jail or in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. What it would do: Would require additional healthcare services be provided to women who have had a miscarriage or suffered physical or sexual abuse while detained in a local jail or state prison facility.
HB 1459 (Crockett): Relating to a racial disparity impact statement attached to certain bills or resolutions creating or expanding criminal offenses. What it would do: Would require the Legislative Budget Board to produce a racial disparity impact statement on each bill or resolution that creates a new offense or significantly expands the applicability of an existing offense. 
HB 1735 (Wu): Relating to criminal penalties for possession offenses under the Texas Controlled Substances Act. What it would do: Would create a maximum sentence of five years for certain drug possession felonies of the third degree, would remove the possibility of life sentences for certain drug offenses, and would disallow certain offenses from being used to enhance punishment. 
HB 45(Johnson) and HB 870 (Thompson): Relating to the eligibility of certain criminal defendants for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history record information. What it would do: Would expand eligibility of certain defendants to obtain an order of nondisclosure of criminal history record information.  
JAD Will Hold the Next CJCC Meeting on
Next CJCC Meeting
Thursday, March 11th
12:30pm - 2:00pm

The Harris County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) was created by Order of Harris County Commissioners Court dated July 14, 2009.

The CJCC works collectively to manage systemic challenges facing Harris County's criminal justice system and strengthen the overall well-being of our communities by developing and recommending policies and practices that improve public safety, promote fairness, equity and accountability, and reduce unnecessary incarceration and criminal justice involvement in Harris County.  

The CJCC collects and evaluates local criminal justice data to identify systemic issues and facilitates collaboration between agencies, experts, and community service providers to improve Harris County's criminal justice system in accordance with best practices.

The CJCC meets quarterly and the 2021 schedule is as follows:
March 11, 2021
June 24, 2021
September 9, 2021
December 9, 2021

You can watch the live stream of each scheduled CJCC meeting at https://www.harriscountytx.gov/Government/Court-Agenda/Court-Videos

Speakers may sign up to speak on matters on the agenda at https://justiceinnovation.harriscountytx.gov/CJCC-Appearance-Request-Form