2021 Update: COVID-19 in TDCJ

COVID-19 virus
Source: https://www.defense.gov/explore/spotlight/coronavirus/

COVID-19 in 2021

It has been over a year since the COVID-19 virus began its spread around the globe. Many lives have been lost and nearly everyone’s lives have been altered in some way. Some Americans transitioned to work from home, and are just now returning to work. Masks are no longer mandated as vaccination rates rise. The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, will probably make up 50% of Covid-19 infections in the U.S. by early to mid-July.

A New Study

Last year, as the coronavirus killed hundreds inside TDCJ and sickened tens of thousands more, prisoner rights advocates unsuccessfully pleaded for state officials to more quickly release the thousands of people in prison approved for parole. In a recent study, the University of Texas’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs determined that eighteen people granted parole passed away before their scheduled release date from complications directly related to COVID-19. Many were waiting to complete pre-release programs that the TDCJ had delayed due to the pandemic.

In April, TDCJ housed nearly 11,000 inmates approved for parole, according to data from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. This is nine percent of Texas’s total prison population. More than 25 percent earned the privilege of parole six months earlier. Nearly 900 people were awaiting release for more than a year. The Parole Board has discretion to make completion of programs a condition of release on parole. These programs range between three and 18 months, and can take months to start.

Many families and prisoner’s rights advocates are calling for the pre-release programs to begin as soon as inmates enter TDCJ. This way, they argue, the offender can use their time in TDCJ constructively and parole earlier. But this ignores the reality that the pre-release programs are part of the equation. TDCJ relies upon and uses many means to maximize institutional adjustment and successful reintegration into society. And these programs are not among the static and dynamic factors that the Parole Board considers when casting their votes.

How We Can Help

While we do not expect the offering and availability of pre-release programs to change, the experienced parole lawyers at Cox Law can help you and your loved one understand the conduct, work, and curriculum that can optimize your loved one’s chances of earning the privilege of parole. We don’t take parole cases. We represent parole clients. And we fight for their freedom. To learn more about how we can help, please contact us immediately.

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