It’s been a long year, hasn’t it?
From the pandemic to the winter storm and even a hurricane, people in our state have faced ongoing challenges to their well-being. Yet, for multiple legislative sessions now, our state’s leaders have focused on pushing through discriminatory and oppressive measures that cause harm to the most vulnerable among us.
Rather than invest in healthcare or housing, lawmakers have accelerated the costly surveillance—and rampant mistreatment—of people of color, undocumented community members, and people experiencing homelessness. The governor is obsessed with forging a criminal legal system that treats people differently based on the color of their skin and their access to wealth. Instead of looking toward 2022, many Texas lawmakers seem dead set on bringing us back to the 1950s.
But we won’t go back.
Day in and day out, Texas Fair Defense Project keeps fighting to end the criminalization of poverty. And despite this year’s challenges, we’ve had major successes. We were able to get the City of Dallas to pull out of the OmniBase program, a move that will immediately help tens of thousands of people. We’ve cleared tens of thousands of dollars in debt and fees for hundreds of clients. Amid a tough legislative session, TFDP secured multiple victories that will help hundreds of thousands of Texans restore their driver's licenses and get relief for ticket debt and fines. All of these changes will help our neighbors go to work, take their kids to school and buy groceries—to live their lives.
My particular work at TFDP focuses on fixing Texas's broken probation system. In just over a year of the probation program's existence, we've waived the considerable fines and fees that keep our clients in the criminal legal system, advocated against our clients' incarceration for their inability to afford the costs of probation, and successfully petitioned the courts for early termination of clients' probation sentences. We help our clients move on from the criminal legal system and live their lives freely. Providing these services for free is essential to the fight against the criminalization of poverty.
But we’ve learned that these victories are never set in stone. We cannot let down our guard—and we won’t go back. And to keep this fight going, we need your help.
We’re looking for community members who share our core belief: poverty is not a crime. With your support, you will enable us to continue to take on unjust laws that punish people for being poor, as well as work directly with community members to get the materials they need to restore balance in their lives. Even more, your support will spark other community members to give, too.
We hope you’ll join us as we keep moving forward.
Thank you for your support.