Celia Israel

STATE REPRESENTATIVE CELIA ISRAEL

Improving our Criminal Justice System

Although many needed efforts to establish the rights of Texas prisoners failed to move this session, there were several successful ones. Here is a rundown of these bills:

  • HB 1083 requires the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to perform a mental health assessment of an inmate before confining them to administrative segregation. Placing mentally ill prisoners into solitary confinement is cruel. I was thrilled to see this bill pass the House unanimously and be signed into law by the Governor.
  • HB 549 forbids county jails from limiting prisoner visitation for disciplinary reasons and requires in-person visitation options, passed the House and the Senate. I was proud to stand up for inmate families and support this bill. This bill is effective, without the Governor’s signature, on September 1, 2015.
  • HB 48 creates the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission, which will work to review overturned wrongful convictions of innocent Texans. I was proud to stand with the rest of my colleagues on such an important initiative. HB 48 passed both chambers and was signed by the Governor.
  • HB 1140, one of my efforts this session, brings greater accountability and transparency around pregnant inmate care. We have heard horrifying anecdotes of mistreatment of pregnant inmates, and this legislation will get to the bottom of what is really happening in our county jails. HB 1140 passed both chambers and was signed by the Governor.

There is so much more work to be done to establish the rights of the accused and incarcerated, but we can be proud of the genuine progress made this session.