Texas Justice Initiative is a nonprofit organization that collects, analyzes, publishes and provides oversight for criminal justice data throughout Texas.
After Michael Brown was shot and killed by former officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, Americans suddenly realized the dismal state of data-collection on officer-involved shootings.
A scramble ensued to track how often members of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in America shot civilians – a daunting, complex and fragmented task. Departments vary vastly in their approaches to collecting data on their interactions with the public, including their uses of force, rendering comparisons and analysis impossible. Even when departments do collect data, it’s often difficult for the public to access, parse and analyze for themselves.
But in Texas, things are different.
In 2015, lawmakers passed legislation that required agencies to report shootings to the state. Paired with a decades-old law that mandates deaths by officer-involved shootings and in any other type of law enforcement custody are reported to the state, the laws set Texas apart from most other states in requiring such reporting by police.
Amanda Woog and Eva Ruth Moravec had each worked with one of the data sets independently but decided to join forces in 2016, when they co-founded the Texas Justice Initiative to build a portal for our criminal justice data. Through the portal and other tools, TJI makes the data available to the public in a user-friendly way. TJI also analyzes the data and explains our findings, and attempts to provide oversight by helping to ensure the data sets are complete and accurate.
We believe that with quality information, we can better understand each other, craft good policy, improve governance, ensure accountability and identify creative solutions. TJI hopes to promote informed discussion on controversial topics of grave importance and impact research that leads to police, detention, and sentencing policy reform. We hope our work will also encourage replication in other states, both by bringing attention to the Texas policies and how they do or do not work, and by creating a platform that can be duplicated using data from other states.
Who We Are
Eva Ruth Moravec
Executive Director and co-founder Eva Ruth Moravec is a 2018 John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Criminal Justice Reporting fellow, a freelance reporter covering criminal justice in Texas and throughout the U.S. While in a data journalism class for her Master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, Eva Ruth started a database of officer-involved shootings in Texas. She then explored cases in her database through “Point of Impact,” an investigative journalism series that ran in three Texas daily newspapers. She has covered criminal justice in Texas for a decade, including stints at the San Antonio Express-News and The Associated Press. Find her on Twitter here.
Marketing consultant Bergan Casey provides communications support and strategic direction for nonprofits. Before becoming a consultant, Bergan worked for several nonprofits and PR agencies in Washington, D.C., London and Austin. Bergan has also served as the Executive Director of The Headliners Foundation and Women’s Storybook Project of Texas (interim). Find her on LinkedIn here.
TJI Coach Andrea Torres has nearly 20 years of experience in Austin’s local government and nonprofit sectors where she assembled a diverse set of skills in the areas of fundraising, program management, and program evaluation. She particularly enjoys working with organizational leaders to help them develop the necessary skills to move their organizations forward.
The Texas Justice Initiative is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization under the governance of a board of directors. The board meets quarterly and can be reached via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Booker received his master’s degree in criminology from Florida State University in 1993. His career has been primarily in juvenile justice. He has worked with delinquent youth at a day treatment program in Tallahassee, with juvenile sex offenders in California, and at a wilderness camp in western North Carolina. He has also been a juvenile probation officer in Tennessee and Georgia. He began teaching criminal justice and criminology classes in 2006 at Georgia Southern University. He moved to San Antonio in 2016 and is currently the internship coordinator in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UTSA. He also teaches classes on juvenile delinquency, offender counseling, and community corrections. He has been involved in community efforts to improve the relationship between police and minority communities. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and his rescue Doberman Pinscher, Lilly, and gardening.
Nicole Hutchison is the founder and backbone of non-profit, The Rusty Diamond Network. Born out of her personal tragedy, and subsequent incarceration within TDCJ in 2018, Nicole saw the need for peer-to-peer mentorship and support within prison walls. Upon her release, the seed grew, and with a vast network in place, re-entry, parole, family services, clothing, housing and resources are now in the suite of services offered by The Rusty Diamond Network. Nicole's 25-year career in Global Fortune 500 companies, focused on software solutions and data analytics to solve organizations largest problems, gave her the tenacity and skillset to advocate and tackle the difficult criminal justice system to fight for women's mental health and re-entry success. The Rusty Diamond Network partners with several organizations in Texas, and across the US to advocate for overall reforms and restorative justice.
Karen M. Kennard is a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig LLP. Karen has practiced law for over 25 years, including 11 as the City Attorney for the City of Austin. There, Karen was instrumental in leading several high-profile initiatives. She started her law career as the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Midland and later worked at the Texas Municipal League, where she provided legal and legislative services to elected and appointed city officials throughout Texas. A graduate of the Texas Tech University School of Law, she is a member of the Austin Chapter of the Links Inc and the Beta Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.
Meme Styles is the visionary behind MEASURE, a nonprofit she founded in 2015 to build trust, increase transparency and measure progress in underserved communities. As “chief volunteer,” Meme works with the board, leadership team and the community to further the organization’s mission. In 2018, MEASURE successfully advocated in Austin for evidence-based policing as a way to increase collaboration and transparency. Meme, a graduate of American Military University, holds a certificate in Performance Measurement from George Washington University College of Professional Studies. By day, Meme works for the State of Texas as a Privacy Officer, safeguarding data.
Commander Chris G. Vallejo is a 26-year veteran of the Austin Police Department and oversees the Northwest Area Patrol Command. He is excited about implementing evidence-based practices to address crime and measure community sentiment and organizational effectiveness. Chris serves as a National Police Foundation Policing Executive Fellow, is an NIJ LEADS Scholar, a board member with the Texas Justice Initiative, and is a Police Advisor to Measure, an Austin-based community research and advocacy group. Chris is an avid student of leadership, evidence-based policing, performance-management systems, police officer health and well-being, and 21st-century policing principles. Chris holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science from Midwestern State University with concentrations in constitutional law and political science with Summa Cum Laude honors. He is currently pursuing a master’s in criminal justice at Texas State University.
TJI is grateful for the financial support we’ve received so far. Many thanks to the individuals who’ve donated to TJI directly and through Facebook, and to our grantors: the Awesome Foundation, CredCon, the John and Florence Newman Foundation, and the Charles Koch Institute.