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.
In 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.