HBCU Criminal Justice Research Hub

At the Center for Justice Research, we recognize that socioeconomic determinants of health make up many of the root causes of crime and are aggravated by interactions with the criminal legal system. Our mission is to reduce both violent crime and mass incarceration in Houston and beyond by bringing together researchers, local organizations, and community members with lived experience to collaboratively form solutions that address these core issues. In doing so, we also aim to reduce racial, ethnic, gender, ability, and class-based disparities within the criminal legal system.

The Problem

Houston, along with many cities across the United States, suffers from high poverty, unemployment, and homicide rates. These social distress factors and crime rates coincide with high incarceration rates, as Houston contains four of the top 30 most incarcerated zip codes in Texas. Texas has a higher incarceration rate than the national average, and Houston and Harris County, like counties all over the country, disproportionately incarcerate Black youth and adults.

Criminal legal system involvement negatively affects employment opportunities and achieved socioeconomic status, housing access, mental health, and other health outcomes, and many of these factors, in turn, predict criminal legal system involvement. The cyclical nature of incarceration and violent crime is clear, and there is an urgent need for community-informed solutions.

19.4%

The proportion of Houstonians living under the poverty line, including over 520,000 children under 18 years old

8.4%

The unemployment rate in Houston, compared to 6.3% nationally

59k

The number of people who interacted with the Homelessness Management Information System in 2022 in the Tri-County area

700k+

The number of people experiencing food insecurity in the Greater Houston Area

Mission

Our mission is to reduce both violent crime and mass incarceration in Houston and beyond by bringing together researchers, local organizations, and community members with lived experience to collaboratively form culturally-responsive, data-driven solutions. In doing so, we also aim to reduce racial, ethnic, gender, and class-based disparities within the criminal legal system.

The HBCU Criminal Justice Research Hub, funded by the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity, brings together HBCU researchers, local organizations, and community members to collaboratively address violent crime and mass incarceration. We believe community input is vital to this work and that community members with lived experience are the true experts in this field. Together, we aim to develop non-punitive solutions to violent crime, given the negative effects of criminal legal system involvement for individuals, families, and whole communities.

In the first two years of this project, we will conduct a public safety needs assessment in Houston, and researchers will develop needs assessment research plans for their respective communities. The Houston needs assessment, combined with community input gathered at our multiple Hub meetings, will allow us to determine culturally-responsive, data-driven interventions and policy recommendations. The Hub will also focus on researcher development, cultivating a diverse cohort of criminal justice researchers and social engineers.

Ultimately, the Hub aims to expand the capacity of HBCUs to address the root causes of mass incarceration and violent crime and inform interventions that are led by and for impacted communities.

 

Project Manager

KIANA HENLEY

Kiana Henley is the HBCU Criminal Justice Research Hub Project Manager and also supports various writing and editing projects for the Center for Justice Research. Her background is in nonprofit consulting and academic editing in a wide range of fields, with a specific focus on the social sciences.

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Her previous contracts include InPlay, an educational nonprofit, the Center for American Progress, and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Focusing her research on racial equity in housing policy, criminal justice reform, voting rights, and the intersections of these three fields, her passions align with the Center for Justice Research’s focus on reducing mass incarceration and eliminating disparities within the criminal legal system.

Kiana holds an M.A. in Public Policy and an M.A. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, as well as a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute.

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Community Advocates

TAMMIE LANG CAMPBELL

Tammie Lang Campbell is a nationally recognized civil rights leader, author, and founder of the Honey Brown Hope Foundation, an award-winning 501(c) 3 non-profit that works from the schoolhouse to the courthouse to offer programming, resources, and support aligned with its causes—civil rights and environmental stewardship.

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Under her leadership, the Foundation addresses the school-to-prison pipeline by providing direct advocacy support and resources—most notably the nationally recognized “How to Advocate for Your Child Toolkit for Black and Brown Parents and Guardians”; advocates for criminal justice policy reform; provides post-conviction advocacy support; creates educational programming to promote environmental stewardship; and supplements curriculum gaps in education through “History Talks” programs that have exposed over 5,000 youth and their families to the often untold civil-rights era history.

As a natural extension of her work, she has served on or as: Texas Southern University’s Center for Justice Research Residential Advocate; Harvard University School-to-Prison Pipeline Roundtable; First Female President of NAACP – Missouri City; Vicinity Branch; Education Chair of Texas State NAACP Conference; Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum; Fort Bend District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Committee Chair; and Harris CountyDistrict Attorney’s Transition Team member.

Campbell is most notably the recipient of the following recognition: National NAACP Image Award for Community Service; Top 25 Women of Houston; Jasper, Texas Key to the City; North Houston Frontiers’ Drum Major Award; Anti-Defamation League Award; and MVP Award from National Parents Union. She has also been recognized as Sophisticate’s Black Hair Magazine’s “Role Model Beyond Beauty” and by both the Texas and Hawaii House of Representatives.

She is a graduate of Alcorn State University and considers her two adult children, Shar-day and Dennis Jr., as her greatest blessings.

GARY OWENS

Gary Owens has served Harris County Juvenile Probation Department (HCJPD) for nearly 20 years. He currently works as a Shift Supervisor at the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center in downtown Houston, overseeing operations at the secure facility.

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HCJPD provides supervision and services to over 6,600 young people between the ages of 10 and 17 annually who are under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. With approximately 1,100 employees, it is the largest juvenile probation department in Texas.

Mr. Owens began his career at HCJPD as a Detention Officer in the then-newly formed Mental Health Services Division, working at the Burnett and Bayland Reception Center. This division later expanded into medical services as well and became the Health Services Division. He served in both the Psychological Services Unit and Psychological Stabilization Unit.

In 2017, Mr. Owens leveraged his background in mental health and organizational operations by becoming a Shift Supervisor in Residential Services. In this role, he has helped redefine operations to make the detention facilities more therapeutic.

Mr. Owens received his B.B.A. in Marketing from Texas Southern University in 2003 and a B.A. in Arts from Houston Community College in 1999.

LATOSHA SELEXMAN

LaTosha Selexman has worked in public health for more than 10 years providing services and supports for underserved populations in the Greater Houston community.  She currently serves as the Bureau Chief for the City of Houston Health Department’s Bureau of Youth and Adolescent Health, the Community Reentry Network Program and the My Brother’s Keeper ReDirect Diversion Program.

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Some of her prior social service experience includes roles such as the Program Manager for the Harris County Area Agency on Aging’s Care Transitions Program as well as the Information, Referral and Assistance and HICAP Benefits Counseling programs.  She also previously served as a Parole Officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Parole Division.

LaTosha is dedicated to supporting justice impacted individuals with successful community reintegration. Through her extensive experience in developing and fostering partnerships, she has been successful in cultivating community-wide collaboratives with the overarching goal of reducing recidivism. She has been instrumental in creating and maintaining a network of services and supports for justice impacted individuals to aid with workforce development, case management, access to care and more. Further, she has a wealth of practice and knowledge around implementing community and evidence -based reentry initiatives. She is responsible for coordinating efforts with correctional agencies and community-based organizations to promote advocacy, criminal justice system reform and to increase community awareness and outreach. She is a skilled presenter speaking locally and beyond sharing how the experience of incarceration and reentry impacts individuals, family members and the community. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Delta State University and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield. She also holds a Certificate in Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Her greatest joys are spending quality time with her family, reading, exploring museums, and traveling.

 

DAMION WALKER

Damion JaDonne Walker, the founder of Kognitive Enterprises Inc., and Cognitive Justice Intl.(501c3) has received Congressional Recognition by US Representative Al Green, as a “CraigWashington Scholar”, because of his commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others. However, in 1993 at 16, Damion was arrested, certified as an adult for several aggravated offenses and after 17 years of incarceration he was released at the age of 33.

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While in prison, Damion earned an associate’s degree from Alvin Community College and was elected as gavel club president of Toastmasters and gravitated to public speaking immediately.

Upon his release from prison, Damion would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston in broadcast journalism, and be a requested featured speaker at events. However, through the organizations he founded, Damion is now working with formerly incarcerated, underserved communities, individuals with barriers and agencies looking to understand these populations.

Damion currently works at Harris County Public Health as the Community Coordinator for the Community Violence Interruption Program. He also serves on select boards and committees advising agencies on issues from workforce development, positive communication and cultural diversity. His recent appointment as a Community Advocate on the HBCU Criminal Justice Research Hub Project is a testament of his dedication and commitment to work of justice issues and solutions.

Researchers

JUAN J. BARTHELEMY

Juan J. Barthelemy is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Houston. He earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Social Work from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2005, a MSW from Washington University in St. Louis in 1999, a Master of Arts in Education in the area of Educational Psychology from the University of Northern Iowa in 1995, and a B.A. in Psychology from Southern University at New Orleans in 1993.

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Dr. Barthelemy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Board Approved Clinical Supervisor (LCSW-S). He is currently licensed in Texas and Louisiana. Furthermore, Dr. Barthelemy’s research interests revolve around criminal justice and law enforcement, justice-involved youth, and community engagement as an intervention to reduce violent crime. His professional practice experience includes working as a substance abuse treatment provider and a sex offender therapist in juvenile secure care facilities, as well as providing telehealth-based therapy. In addition to his clinical experience, he has conducted diversity workshops and other trainings. He has presented at international, national, and local conferences, and he has also published numerous journal articles and book chapters.

NICOLA D. BIVENS

Nicola Davis Bivens is a Professor of Criminology at Johnson C. Smith University where she also serves as the Program Coordinator and is the 2023 recipient of the school’s Par-Excellence Teaching Award, 2022 Sit Lux Faculty Award, and the 2012 of the CATO Par-Excellence Teaching Award.  She is also a Research Fellow at the Homeland Security and Workforce Development Institute at North Carolina Central University.

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In 2018, she received the York County (South Carolina) Office of Emergency Management Service Award and in 2020, was named a Summer Scholar for the National Humanities Center. For 30 years, Dr. Davis Bivens has studied, worked, or taught in the field of public safety and emergency management.  Nicola holds her BS, MS, and EdD degrees in criminal justice (respectively), as well as an MPA in Emergency Management. Her scholarship has appeared in the Studia z Polityki Publicznej [Public Policy Studies Journal], Journal of Education and Social Policy, Journal of Applied Security Research, Journal of Justice Studies, Paradigm Shift: An Interdisciplinary Journal on the African American Experience, Field Educator, and the Journal of Criminal Justice and Law Review. 

DAVID A. REMBERT

David A. Rembert is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Justice Studies in the College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology at Prairie View A&M University. His current research, teaching, and consulting interests focus on violence, child maltreatment fatalities, corrections, and juvenile delinquency, especially as they relate to social justice.

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He is also interested in child welfare, law, legal aspects, justice policy, offender risk assessment, and program evaluation. His recent published research has appeared in Corrections: Policy, Practice and Research, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, and the Prison Journal. His professional career outside of academia includes practical experience as a case manager for Youth Villages and Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and as a correctional officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. David is currently serving as vice president for the Texas Association of Criminal Justice Educators and president of the AAUP Advocacy Chapter at Prairie View A&M University.

JOHNNY RICE

Johnny Rice II, Dr.PH., MSCJ serves as Department Chair and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Coppin State University in Baltimore, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). He is also a Research Fellow in the Bishop L. Robinson Sr. Justice Institute where he is leading a student research team exploring the factors that influence young black men to possess firearms.

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Before joining Coppin, he worked as a senior program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice in their Center on Victimization and Safety. He has spent the past 23 years providing leadership, technical assistance, and support to organizations that serve low-income fathers and families in the areas of child welfare, youth development, and criminal justice in efforts to create safe and stable communities. Before joining Vera, he worked as a public administrator for the Maryland Department of Human Services (formerly Department of Human Resources). At DHR, he served as the state administrator for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Program, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) Domestic Violence Program, the Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Program, and federal and state-funded Responsible Fatherhood programs.  His portfolio also encompassed Emergency Food and Homeless Services programs.

Previously Dr. Rice held the position of Chief Operating Officer and Director of the nationally recognized Men’s Services Responsible Fatherhood Program at the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. At CFUF, he assisted in developing a partnership with the House of Ruth Maryland Gateway Project, cited by Health and Human Services as one of the first collaborations in the nation between a responsible fatherhood service provider and a domestic violence abuser intervention program. Dr. Rice has served in the role of consultant, speaker, workshop presenter, and faculty member for the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), Futures Without Violence, Office of Family Assistance (OFA), and other recognized governmental, social justice, and fatherhood organizations. He formerly served as Board President for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV). Dr. Rice is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Baltimore Alumni Chapter “The Benchmark”. He resides in Maryland and is a proud husband and father.

Additional Background (Early Career):

Dr. Rice’s past employment experience covers a significant cross-section of diverse areas. While employed as a foster care worker for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services Mr. Rice was given the task of the reunification of families. He would often assist in devising treatment plans for parents in efforts to strengthen the fragile family unit. He has worked at a secured residential treatment center as a youth counselor providing structure and guidance for adolescents with emotional and behavioral challenges who were deemed suicidal, homicidal, and AWOL risks. As an addictions counselor within the Maryland correctional system, Dr. Rice worked with incarcerated inmates teaching classes in Moral Problem Solving and Relapse Prevention. Working in corrections exposed Dr. Rice to low-income noncustodial fathers who were in need of a comprehensive array of support services (i.e. ongoing substance abuse treatment, domestic violence counseling, child support issues, and access and visitation concerns). He actively pursued resources to meet fathers’ needs. Before entering Human Services, Dr. Rice was employed in various capacities in the field of safety and security in the private sector.

Subject Matter Experts

PAUL ELAM

Dr. Elam is responsible for diversifying the Institute’s portfolio to address cutting edge issues that affect the health and well-being of our society. His deep understanding of youth violence and prevention, crime and justice, and child maltreatment is nationally recognized.

 
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Dr. Elam brings a wealth of knowledge and experience measuring racial and ethnic disproportionality and believes that sound public policy analysis should include an examination of whether all people are being treated fairly and equitably. His current leadership efforts include mentoring and training professionals from historically underrepresented groups in culturally responsive and equitable engagement to ensure that the people who are most impacted are at the center of conversations which seek to find solutions to problems affecting them. Dr. Elam works closely with governmental, philanthropic, university, and nonprofit clients, providing strategic consultation to advance decisions in ways that improve lives, advance social justice and produce equitable outcomes. Dr. Elam earned a PhD in Family and Child Ecology, a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and Urban Studies, and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, all from Michigan State University.

AMBER GOODWIN

Assistant District Attorney, Travis County, Texas

NONI GAYLORD-HARDEN

Noni Gaylord-Harden is a Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Texas A&M University and Director of the Youth Rising Lab (youthrisinglab.com). Dr. Gaylord-Harden is a clinical psychologist and her research focuses on the impact of exposure to community violence and traumatic loss on Black adolescents and families in disinvested, urban communities.

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The overarching goals of her work are to address disparities in community violence exposure and traumatic loss and to minimize the adverse effects of violence exposure by enhancing existing strengths and assets embedded in Black youth, families, and communities. She has published several peer-reviewed research articles and presented numerous scientific conference presentations on these topics, and her team aims to utilize findings from this research to develop and implement interventions that promote healing for Black adolescents and families. She has received funding from The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the American Psychological Association, and the Institute of Education Sciences for her research efforts.

GEORGE RHYNE

George E. Rhyne, Jr. is currently employed as the Administrator for the Texas Anti-Gang Center – Houston. Mr. Rhyne has over thirty-nine (39) years of law enforcement experience with the Texas Department of Public Safety, where he served as a Trooper, Corporal and Sergeant in the Traffic Law Enforcement Division and a Sergeant Investigator, Lieutenant, Captain and Major in the Criminal Investigations Division.

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As a result of his experience in working in multiagency law enforcement environments, Mr. Rhyne prepared the original white paper and formative documents to develop the Texas Anti-Gang (TAG) Center Program in 2013.   Additionally, Mr. Rhyne has been responsible for developing the TAG concept from one (1) location to ten (10) locations throughout the State of Texas, providing subject matter expertise and operational strategies to law enforcement agencies in addressing violent crime within their respective jurisdictions.

Mr. Rhyne currently holds an Associates of Arts Degree from El Centro College in Dallas, Texas and is a graduate of the Northwestern University – School of Police Staff and Command and the FBI – Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Development Association.  He has also has attended multiple law enforcement training courses primarily focused on criminal enterprise investigation and executive leadership/management. Mr. Rhyne is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, FBI – Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Association, American Association of State Troopers, Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association and the serves as the immediate Past President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) – Houston Chapter.   Mr. Rhyne currently serves as a principal in the Department of Justice – Violent Crime Initiative, a law enforcement project to specifically address pervasive gang activity and violent criminal activity in the greater Houston – Harris County area.

From a community volunteer perspective, Mr. Rhyne has resided in Houston for over 39 years and is active in his Southwest Houston Community. A resident of District K, Mr. Rhyne is a active member of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church, where he has worked in the Youth and Children Ministry, volunteered for the Houston ISD – Real Men Read Program, presented multiple community based programs of “The Law and Your Community” for NOBLE, worked as a mentor for The Positive Black Male Association of Houston, supporter/volunteer for Young Financial Wizards of Southeast Texas and  member of the “Friends of Marian Park”, which has adopted a City of Houston – PRD park for beautification efforts and worked with the City of Houston – Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office and Health Department in their anti-gang/violence reduction efforts.

Mr. Rhyne is married, with three (3) sons.  It is his desire to continue his professional and community efforts to make Houston a better place to live and raise a family.

Moderator

CARLA BRAILEY

Dr. Carla D. Brailey exudes an extraordinary presence, radiating brilliance, influence, and unwavering passion across every aspect of her life. As a distinguished Professor of Sociology and inaugural Senior Fellow of the esteemed Barbara Jordan Institute of Policy Analysis at Texas Southern University, she has cemented her status as an unparalleled thought leader and trailblazer.

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With an unwavering commitment to addressing social inequality, Dr. Brailey’s expertise encompasses the profound complexities of racism, classism, sexism, sexuality, and urban studies. Her intellectual prowess and groundbreaking research have earned her recognition as a credited expert in the field. In 2019, she co-edited the highly acclaimed book “Women and Inequality in the 21st Century,” solidifying her commitment to championing social justice and equity in the United States. Anticipation surrounds her upcoming edited book, “Black Perspectives in Sociology,” which is poised to redefine the narrative and reshape the discourse in her field.

Dr. Brailey’s impact extends far beyond the walls of academia. As a committed public servant leader, she has shattered glass ceilings and made history as the first Black woman Democrat to run as Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 2021. Her strategic acumen and invaluable contributions as the Vice Chair of the Texas Democratic Party have left an indelible mark on the political landscape. Furthermore, her role as the Senior Advisor for the 2020 Michael Bloomberg for President Campaign of Texas exemplified her ability to build diverse and groundbreaking campaigns, solidifying her status as an unparalleled force in political strategy.

In addition to her exceptional career accomplishments, Dr. Brailey is the visionary owner and founder of the prestigious Frontrunners Strategic Management Group (SMG). This cutting-edge firm facilitates transformative change, offering strategic thought and analysis to companies focused on professional development, strategic planning, and training. Driven by a steadfast commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity, Frontrunners SMG empowers executives and small businesses to envision and actualize their long-term visions.

Dr. Brailey’s journey as an educator and leader has been paved with exceptional achievements. Beginning her career as a middle school teacher at the renowned Imani School of Houston, she has since honed her skills as an exceptional lecturer at Howard University, Prince George’s Community College, and the University of Houston. Her prowess as a captivating orator has garnered invitations from prestigious institutions and media networks, including MSNBC, NPR, Fox Network, and Houston Public Media, further solidifying her status as an influential voice and subject matter expert.

Earning accolades and recognition for her outstanding contributions is a testament to Dr. Brailey’s impact and influence. She has been honored with the Barbara Jordan Award from the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, listed among the Top 50 Entrepreneurs of Texas in 2019, and celebrated as one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women in 2018. The Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce recognized her as a Role Model for Women in the Fast Lane of STEAM, showcasing her inspirational leadership and unwavering dedication.

Dr. Carla D. Brailey is a true extraordinaire, leaving an indelible mark in academia, politics, and society. Her intellect, innovation, and unyielding commitment to empowering others have positioned her as a luminary figure, driving meaningful change and setting new standards of excellence. With her exceptional talents and boundless potential, Dr. Brailey continues to shape the future, transforming lives and inspiring future generations.

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