What is the Texas Women's Justice Coalition?

The Texas Women’s Justice Coalition was created in 2018 in response to an increase in women’s incarceration and the unique needs of women in the criminal legal system.

Our founders include the Texas Center for Justice and Equity (TCJE), Brittany Barnett (Girls Embracing Mothers), and Lauren Johnson (ACLU of Texas).

We are a group of formerly incarcerated women, advocates, and service providers. We are working to create change for incarcerated and returning women in our local areas, and we advocate together for state-level policy reforms at the Texas Capitol.

Hear From System-Impacted Women

The women of the Texas Women’s Justice Coalition shared their stories as part of our “Hear from Her” series. Read individual interviews or click to see all of their stories!

Policy Work

As the Texas Women’s Justice Coalition launched in 2018, TCJE released a 2-part report series on women’s justice in Texas: A Growing Population and An Unsupported Population. The series also includes a quick guide, which shares key facts and statistics.

Then, after a retreat to the Texas Hill Country with Coalition members in 2019, TCJE released The Future of Dignity, which shares the Coalition’s history and priorities for policy reform.

TCJE has also tracked the Coalition’s legislative work at the state Capitol, including their fight for dignity and other reforms in 2019, their 2021 policy agenda, and their advocacy for family reunification and other supports for women during the 2021 session.

In 2023, the Coalition is fighting for women to have more rehabilitative and vocational programming in prisons, to ensure they get the same programming access that men already have. And we’re excited to support the youth-led Finish the 5 campaign, given that girls in Texas’ youth prisons are at risk for later system involvement.

Family Reunification & Preservation

Family Reunification


During the 2021 session of the Texas Legislature, formerly incarcerated women championed HB 2926. The bill creates a path for formerly incarcerated parents to regain custody of their children after having had their parental rights terminated, provided the parent has taken steps to create a safe, stable home and met other conditions. It passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by the Governor.

Since the new law went into effect in September 2021, the Texas Women’s Justice Coalition and partners have hosted a series of family reunification clinics. The events, some hosted virtually, aim to provide parents with “know your rights” information and screen prospective petitioners for eligibility. The first reunification cases have already moved through the court system; parents who regained custody in fall 2021 were able to spend the holidays with their children that year! More information about family reunification, including a list of resources, is available on this webpage.

Cynthia and Chloe pose with a presentation of their reportIn May 2022, TCJE’s women’s justice team published a larger analysis of the women’s justice landscape in Texas in a new report. Motherhood and Pregnancy Behind Bars: Texas Must Rethink How It’s Treating Mothers and Families explores statistics on women’s incarceration, familial impacts, racism and inequity within the system, and implementation of previous women’s justice legislation. In addition to a set of recommendations for lawmakers and stakeholders, the report provides an update on the family reunification process.

In March 2024, TCJE launched the next stage of this work with a new family preservation campaign. Our women's justice team released a series of videos highlighting the devastating impacts of family separation, the positive outcomes of reunification, and parents' rights within these systems. Next, Women's Justice Director Cynthia Simons will join partners to create a "Know Your Rights" guide for parents, accompanied by future clinics to reach as many Texas families as possible with this information. More about family preservation, including video links and key stats, is available on this webpage.

The Future of Dignity

Texas Women's Justice Coalition in Action

  • Webpage: Family Preservation | Click here >>
  • Webpage: Family Reunification in Texas | Click here >>
  • Report: "Motherhood and Pregnancy Behind Bars: Texas Must Rethink How It's Treating Mothers and Families" (May 2022) | Click here >>
  • Issue Brief: "Breaking the Bias: Women and Incarceration" (Mar. 2022) | Click here >>
  • Video: International Women’s Day 2022 Virtual Panel Discussion (Mar. 2022) | Click here >>
  • Video: A Coalition member’s story of system impact (Mar. 2021) | Click here >>
  • Photo Gallery: Texas Women’s Dignity Retreat (Nov. 2019) | Click here >>
  • Op-ed: “Some progress on women’s justice in Texas — but more must be done” (Oct. 2019) | Click here >>
  • Blog Post: Update on the Justice for Women campaign (Sept. 2019) | Click here >>
  • Photo Gallery: Women’s [In]Justice Day (Mar. 2019) | Click here >>
  • News Article: “Texas Prison Reformers Demand Dignity for Incarcerated Women” (Mar. 2019) | Click here >>

Join the Coalition

Are you a formerly incarcerated or system-impacted woman? Do you have a family member behind bars? Are you a justice system practitioner working to improve outcomes for women in the system? Join the Texas Women’s Justice Coalition to connect with women like you and work together for change!

The Coalition meets approximately once a month over Zoom, in addition to holding events and providing advocacy opportunities. Fill out this form to share your information with Cynthia Simons, who coordinates the Coalition!