The Mithoff Pro Bono Program’s Parole Project assists women who are incarcerated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in their efforts to obtain parole. In the first three years of the project, the pro bono team, led by Justice Center senior research attorney Helen Gaebler, has won nearly two-thirds of its cases, sparing 18 women years of incarceration. With this track record of success and the enthusiasm of the student volunteers working on behalf of these women, the pro bono project continues to grow, assisting 19 women in 2021 and involving more than 50 students.
The Parole Project takes another big step in 2022 with the addition of a full time Parole Fellow, who will supervise student volunteers as well as work to further expand the Project’s reach by providing training and technical assistance on parole packet preparation to other Texas law schools, impacted families, and criminal justice reform advocates around the state. This two-year fellowship is made possible through a generous private donation.
The Justice Center continually seeks ways to expand on its work in this area, including submitting comments, together with the Texas Law Civil Rights Clinic, to the Texas House Committee on Appropriations regarding the impact of Texas’ aging inmate population on rising health care costs at TDCJ. The comments recommend expanding early release options for Texas’ geriatric prison population, a group already far less likely to return to prison for new crimes and posing lower criminogenic risks than younger individuals.