Criminal Justice

3.5 minute read

Our Position

Dark grey icon of the scales of justiceOur criminal justice priorities in 2023 include improved medical care, increasing the use of medically recommended parole, and accessible and equitable educational and reentry programming.

CTD supports legislation that will authorize supported decision-making agreements for those with disabilities during court proceedings, which would allow authorized supporters to help individuals understand their rights during the legal process.

We also support more transparency in our jails concerning the release of medical information. CTD supports legislation that will make this process easier for families and agencies to inquire about the physical and emotional well-being of individuals with disabilities in custody.

We will also be advocating for the increased use of medically recommended intensive supervision (MRIS). This type of release can be an option for incarcerated people who are terminally ill or have serious physical or mental disabilities. In 2018, roughly 2,100 individuals were screened and only 63 were approved for medical release. We want to ensure that those who qualify can return to community care.

Another important criminal justice policy we will be working on with legislators and state agencies is the reinstatement of Pell Grants for incarcerated students. CTD will continue to make sure that the concerns about equity and accessibility are addressed to ensure that all incarcerated students have the same opportunities for quality college programing. 

CTD supports HB 1435 (Johnson), which requires county jails to appoint a Family Liaison officer to be a consistent point of contact for families.

CTD supports HB 305 (Johnson), which refines the process of approving people who qualify for medically recommended intensive supervision. 

CTD supports HB 3739 (Klick) / SB 1146 (West), which prohibits the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) from certain dehumanizing practices during medical
transport for women inmates.

The Latest

March 8, 2023: our Jennifer Toon recaps the Justice Impacted Girls and Women's Rally on Fox 7

May 23, 2022: view the recording of Reinstating Pell for Incarcerated Students: A Primer for Texas Advocates, a virtual event on which CTD's Jolene Sanders-Foster and Jennifer Toon were among the panelists.


In 2021, CTD made major strides into the area of criminal justice. This is critical work because it is well documented that people with disabilities are over represented in the criminal justice system, as well as more likely to be victimized while in the system and receive less access to supportive services. CTD’s work this session revolved around ensuring that both kids and adults with mental health concerns and/or an intellectual or developmental disability have the support they needed in both county and state facilities. We will continue these efforts into 2023. This will include improved medical care, increasing the use of medically recommended parole, and accessible and equitable educational and reentry programming.

Areas of focus in 2021 included:

County Jails

SB 49 (Zaffirini), effective September 2021, ensures that officials, including sheriffs and personal bond officers, who are responsible for the incarcerated persons in their custody, or for their supervision if they are out on bail, have access to information regarding a mental health condition or intellectual or developmental disability defendants might have. This would ensure that such persons are treated appropriately given their condition and provided with an adequate amount of supervision.

HB 2831 (White), effective September 2021, established a permanent advisory committee tasked with monitoring and gathering data regarding the detention of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities and providing recommendations and guidelines on the detention of such persons. This bill also includes more training for jailers.

HB 3447 (White), which did not pass, sought to address concerns to help prevent the medical neglect of county jail inmates by:

Death Penalty

HB 140 (Rose) would have addressed the use of the death penalty for people with severe and persistent mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder, by providing protections on the determination that the individual had a severe mental illness with active psychotic symptoms at the time of the offense. This bill did not pass.

Further Reading