Advancing Criminal Justice Reform

IN THE 87TH TEXAS LEGISLATURE

Advancing Criminal Justice Reform

IN THE 87TH TEXAS LEGISLATURE

Problem

The 87th Texas Legislature session spanned January to May 2021. The session focused heavily on high-profile reform efforts around bail, police accountability, and drug policy. The Center for Justice Research identified 60 related bills, testified on 4 priority bills, and closely monitored legislative progress throughout the session.

Background

Bail reform stalled during the session due to some controversial provisions, but remains a priority issue for future legislative sessions in Texas. Police reform saw important progress with the passage of acts improving transparency, banning chokeholds, and establishing a duty for officers to intervene in cases of excessive force. Overall, 9 of the 65 criminal justice reform bills passed, led primarily by Republican-authored legislation.

Policy Recommendations

  • Special sessions provide opportunity for progress on stalled reform efforts.
  • New advocacy strategies are needed to cement police accountability and judicial reforms.
  • The Center for Justice Research remains committed to advancing evidence-based reforms for a more just system.

Key Takeaways

  • Bipartisan support for police reform is growing, but ending qualified immunity remains a key sticking point.
  • Strategic partnerships and public opinion shifts have created momentum for systemic change.
  • The Center for Justice Research’s advocacy and testimony assisted lawmakers in developing more equitable policies.