Yes, Orange is the New Black in Houston. Well, technically Black is still Black, but you get the point. We're helping eligible voters participate in the most significant of civic duties: voting!
Of the roughly 10,000 inmates housed at the Harris County Jail on any given day, 70% of them have not been convicted of a crime yet. Yes, some 7,000 people behind bars haven't been sentenced by a judge due to our crazy Bail system here in Texas that keeps people behind bars because they can't afford bail. And when election season rolls around, there's no mechanism in place to allow these inmates to vote.
Just to give you an idea of how significant a potential 7,000 voters are in a place like Houston, the Houston Mayor's race that made Sylvester Turner the Mayor was decided by roughly 5,000 votes!
Yes, since they haven't been convicted of a crime yet, they are eligible to vote. Unfortunately, there's no voting boot at the Harris County Jail. So, we're doing something about it!
WHAT WE're DOING ABOUT IT
As part of our INMATE JUSTICE PROJECT, Houston Justice and a coalition of organizations like Indivisible Houston are pushing the three County government entities to bring voting rights to those behind bars who are eligible. From the Harris County Sheriff's Department, to the County Clerk's Office, to the Tax-Assessor Collector's office to make this happen, but we need your help!
We need at least (10) folks to go through the one-hour training to become a Deputy Voter Registrar, get cleared through the county via background check, and finally help make this a reality.
7/31/17 Organizational Signup Deadline
8/15/17 Coalition Planning Meeting
9/9/17 Kick-Off Press Conference
Then, we'll register voters on the following Saturdays at Harris County Jail
Here's what the timeline will look like if you join the project:
- CLICK HERE to sign-up selecting "Inmate Justice Project" when you get to the selection section.
- Attend one of the Deputy Voter Registrar trainings in August to get your certificate. HERE'S THE LINK with training date/times.
- Join us for our kick-off press conference and #OITNBHOU day at the county jail where we'll go from cell-to -ell, pod-to-pod registering voters and passing out vote-by-mail applications for those that know they'll be behind bars through Election Day (November 7, 2017).
- Join our planning meeting/call on 7/25/17 at 7pm to help strategize next steps. RSVP HERE
In addition to signing up to actually register voters at the jail, there are other ways you can help, too!