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EJUSA Newsline

Reforming the Justice System in the Lone Star State

TX Huntsville PrisonTexas’ reputation as a lock-em-up state is losing steam. Over the last several years, Texas has closed three adult corrections facilities, reduced probation term lengths, improved funding for substance abuse treatment and other alternatives to incarceration, and helped people returning from prison to rebuild their lives. State policy-makers have also rejected various bills that would have enhanced penalties or created new crimes. All of this has begun to reduce the state’s over-reliance on incarceration without compromising public safety. Crime rates have dropped along with the prison population.

In an unexpected turn at this year's CPAC conference, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced on the main stage that shutting down prisons was good, conservative governance. (You can watch him say it in this video, also featuring EJUSA's Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty project.)

Last week, EJUSA's Executive Director, Shari Silberstein, traveled to Texas to spend the day with one of the leading organizations behind this change, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC).

Video: International attention to the death penalty

EU Video ThumbnailThe death penalty is not only dying in the United States. It’s dying all over the world. In the Western Hemisphere, 34 of the 35 countries have ended the death penalty in law or in practice.

That was the subject of the 56th Lecture of the Americas, sponsored by the Organization of American States last month. EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein was on hand for the event. Although much of the panel focused on the United States’ lone status carrying out executions in the hemisphere, Silberstein was able to share reflections about the strong momentum for repeal.

A week later, Silberstein spoke at a European Union event at the DC residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands, sharing the stage with several national partners to talk about what's next for death penalty repeal efforts.

Maryland work continues post-death penalty repeal

Maryland Repeal Bill Signing with Governor O'MalleyLast month, representatives from police, non-profits, prosecutors’ offices, mental health specialists, victim advocates, and more gathered to help launch the new Maryland Statewide Survivor Network. The network will help coordinate the various entities that provide services to families of homicide victims.

EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein was on hand to participate in the launch and planning meeting, where participants shared perspectives, discussed the needs of the community, and started a conversation around shared goals and values.

“When EJUSA and our coalition partners ended the death penalty in Maryland, we also made a promise to the families of murder victims that we would advocate for better services for them,” said Silberstein. “It was so meaningful to be at the network meeting and see the results put into action.”

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