Texas Jail Data: Phase 1

A major focus at the Texas Justice Initiative is gathering and collecting data related to the Texas criminal justice system that is public but isn't made available in convenient or user-friendly ways. By making this data more easily accessible, we hope to provide context and insight on the Texas criminal justice system.

We’re excited to release a new series of data that relates to Texas’ jails. While what you see now looks less like “data” and more like a list of downloadable PDFs, organized by year and report type, we are making this information available in one place for the first time. This set of reports is an important first step towards building a tool that will allow users to interact with the jail data in the future.

Texas jails are required to report the data in our collection to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, which oversees the facilities. Data contained in these reports provide a glimpse of who is being incarcerated in our jails and what happens inside of them during the course of a month. Population reports total the number of individuals held in each county, and immigration detainer reports show how many of those individuals are held on federal immigration holds, and the associated costs. Another report on pregnancies shows how many individuals are pregnant in jail each month, and serious incident reports summarize the total numbers of several types of incidents that can occur in a jail every month.

Typically, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards posts many of these reports on its website, although the publication of these reports stopped “temporarily,” TCJS told us last fall. The Serious Incident Reports in our collection were only made available via TJI’s open records requests.

Collecting these reports is vital to building the interactive tool we envision, and we decided to make them available on our website, even in their original form. Our volunteers will continue to architect a system that automatically scrapes these reports, and also connects these data sets in various visuals. If you’re interested in joining our team or providing funding to help us progress, please email: eva.ruth@texasjusticeinitiative.org.