First in size of prison population. First in prison construction. First in for-profit imprisonment. First in supermax lockdown. And, most notoriously, first in executions. By almost any measure, Texas reigns supreme in the punishment business.
The state's uniquely harsh, racialized, and profit-driven style of punishment, developed on slavery's frontier, became a template for the nation in a post–civil rights era. And the state today remains for many a bellwether—not only in the realm of incarceration and penal policy, but also in the larger worlds of politics, demographic change, and culture.
But there are signs that twilight may be upon the "Texas tough" ethos. What could these signs portend for the Lone Star State and its outsized influence on criminal justice policy in the United States?
At this Open Society Institute event, Soros Justice Fellow Robert Perkinson and other experts discuss the life and times of America's roughest, largest penal system from infancy to empire.
- Robert Perkinson, Professor, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, and author of Texas Tough: The Rise of a Prison Empire
- Ana Yañez-Correa, Executive Director, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition
- Nicole Porter, State Advocacy Coordinator, The Sentencing Project
- Ann Beeson, Executive Director, U.S. Programs, Open Society Institute
- Leonard Noisette, Director, Criminal Justice Fund, U.S. Programs, Open Society Institute