Author Archives: lwaters

About lwaters

A native Texan, after earning her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Political Science at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, Lauren decided to head back home to pursue a career in public policy. She came to the LBJ School to study Social & Economic Policy and has spent the past year gaining exposure to a number of different topics--from substance abuse treatment to juvenile justice reform--both in and out of the classroom. She is excited to spend this summer interning at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition in Austin, an organization dedicated to identifying and advancing real solutions to the problems facing Texas' criminal justice system.

Starting Off Right

I started my internship with a bang a few weeks ago, arriving at 8:30 on my first day to accompany the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition’s (TCJC) executive director and a group of staff to June 5th Sunset Advisory Commission Hearing on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Inside the Sunset Advisory Commission Hearing on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

As far as first days of work go, it was a pretty great one. Walking through the halls of the Capital always gives me sense of endless possibility and fills me with excitement about where I can take everything I’ve learned at LBJ and what I can do in the future to make real, positive change.

In the hearing, I had the opportunity to learn about the current state of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and get a sneak peek into the sort of  initiatives we can expect to see in the upcoming Legislative Session. It was especially interesting to listen to discussions of current inefficiencies in the system, and the policies that foster them. For example, did you know that the ten sickest inmates cost the State approximately $1 million dollars each year, but because of restrictions on eligibility for the Medically Recommended Intensive Supervision (MRIS) Program, they remain in TDCJ custody? These individuals are too sick to be a threat to society and could easily be released into treatment facilities or nursing homes where Medicaid & Medicare would cover their expenses. Instead, because of what Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston) described as “tough politics” they remain in TDCJ custody, costing the state money that could be spent elsewhere.

It is these sorts of inefficiencies, that could be solved through making tough political choices and improving policy, that the Sunset Advisory Commission highlighted for legislatures in the June 5th hearing. As I learn more and more about criminal justice in Texas, and become more and more invested in finding ways to improve the condition of system involved individuals, I will be interested to see how the next Legislative Session unfolds!

Since that first introduction to the current state of Texas criminal justice, I’ve been back in the TCJC offices working on a number of projects related to the employment issues facing former offenders in Texas…in fact, I almost have my first product ready to be sent off for publication…but more on that later! All in all, I definitely have no complaints about the first few weeks of my summer internship experience!


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Summer Internship at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC)

Howdy, y’all! Greetings from Austin, TX!  After finishing up my first year at LBJ, I’m excited to get start my summer internship at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC).

This summer, I’ll be working primarily on issues related to employment post-reentry. For many formerly incarcerated individuals, obtaining employment after release is a critical step towards successfully re-integrating into their community and becoming responsible, law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately, finding a job after you’ve spent time in the Criminal Justice System is often not an easy task. My job this summer is to figure out what policy makers may be able to do to help non-violent offenders find jobs and obtain economic stability. I’m excited to work on this topic, as it perfectly melds my dual interests in social and economic policies and provides me with a chance to explore how various factors influence an individual’s long-term economic success.

My work will involve data base construction, survey research, policy brief writing, and much more. I won’t start work until June 5th but I’ve met with my internship supervisor and am looking forward to my first day. As fate would have it, June 5th is also the scheduled Sunset Advisory Commission hearing for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. So my first day of work I’ll be arriving early to head over to the Capital with TCJC’s Executive Director to observe the hearings and take notes for later use!

Can’t wait to have that experience and start getting to work on my projects at TCJC!