(IN)VISIBLE Conference / Galveston County Bail Practices / 4.18 Opioid & Substance Abuse Disorder Symposium / RECAP: Show Up for Black Mothers Summit

(IN)VISIBLE: Vulnerable People in the Criminal Justice System Conference

This morning I was the keynote speaker at the (IN)VISIBLE: Vulnerable People in the Criminal Justice System Conference. I spoke about what was included in the Sandra Bland Act, and what it means for criminal justice reform in Texas.

Click here to view a summary of the Sandra Bland Act that was the basis for today’s keynote speech.

The Conference “explores the unique challenges faced by vulnerable people who come into contact with the criminal justice system, and policy approaches to address those challenges. In particular, the panelists will examine the lived experiences of people with mental health diagnosis, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals, especially those who are incarcerated. The conference speakers come from a variety of perspectives—some work in the policy world, others are criminal justice system practitioners, and others have experienced the criminal justice system first-hand. The goal of the conference is to amplify the voices of these hidden populations and to make the experiences of these groups part of the public discourse around criminal justice reform.”

I’d like to thank Professor Michele Deitch and her Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs Criminal Justice Policy class for inviting me and putting on this wonderful event.

Left to right: Dr. Lynda Frost, Lynfro Consulting; Reggie Smith, Communities for Recovery; Melissa Shearer, Travis County Mental Health Public Defender; Greg Hansch, National Association on Mental health – Texas
Representative Garnet Coleman

Cartoon by Nick Anderson. 

ACLU Files Lawsuit Over Galveston County Unconstitutional Bail Bond Practices

According to the Houston Chronicle, the ACLU of Texas, the ACLU and Arnold & Porter law firm have filed a class action federal lawsuit against Galveston County regarding their bail bond practices.

“Under Galveston County’s bail system, each offense has an assigned dollar amount. If a person can arrange to pay the full amount to the sheriff in cash or property, or can arrange for payment through a bail bond company or another third party, the sheriff releases that person automatically.Those who cannot pay the pre-determined bail amount must remain in jail indefinitely — and that prolonged detention has consequences. A Texas Indigent Defense Commission review found that felony arrestees who are released while awaiting trial are almost twice as likely to end up with probation or a deferred sentence as those who stay in jail.”

Harris County has also been found to be violating the rights of people arrested through a cash bail system that systematically affects poor people. Last month, an appeals court approved most of a federal ruling that Harris County’s bail practices are unconstitutional as they are unfair to poor defendants. I urged Harris County to settle with the defendants and begin to implement a fair and just bail system.

For additional information on this case, please click here to read the Coleman Chronicle from February on this case.

I will continue to fight for bail reform and keep you updated on this important topic as it works its way through the court system.

You’re Invited: April 18th
Opioid and Substance Abuse Disorder Symposium

The University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs and Baylor College of Medicine are holding an important symposium on opioid and substance abuse disorder on April 18th.Please see below for the flyer and additional details.

Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz will be speaking, who is the lead federal official on opioid and substance abuse disorder and heads the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The symposium will take place on Wednesday, April 18th at the Baylor College of Medicine’s Cullen Auditorium in the Texas Medical Center.

RECAP: Show Up for Black Mothers Summit

I was honored to speak at the Show Up for Black Mothers summit about such important issues facing Black mothers. The summit took place on March 27th at the historic Huston-Tillotson University – the only HBCU in Austin. Dr. Michele Rountree, Associate Director at University of Texas’ Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis established the Black Mamas Community Collective, which inspired the all-day summit.

Thank you to all who came out for this important discussion. For more pictures, please click here to read the Coleman Chronicle including the Summit. Below is a recap from Dr. Michele A. Rountree of the Black Mamas Community Collective.

The Show Up for Black Mothers Summit opened with the documentary, “The Naked Truth: Death By  Delivery.”  The film featured our special guest and panelist, Dr.  Joia Crear-Perry, founder of the National Birth Equity Collective.  The documentary is an  investigative  look at why the mortality rates among Black women are so much higher than their counterparts’.

Michele A. Rountree, PhD led a powerful panel discussion introducing the problem of disproportionate rates of Black maternal mortality and contributing factors that are plaguing Black mothers in Travis County.  She was joined by Black maternal healthcare experts Marsha Jones and Reverend Deneen Robinson of the Afiya Center, Denise Washington of Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, Dr. Crystal Berry-Roberts of Austin Regional Clinic, Darline Turner of Mamas on Bedrest, Michele A. Rountree, PhD, of the UT Steve Hicks School of Social Work, and Paula X. Rojas of Dell Medical School.

Other special guests included the  Honorable  Garnet Coleman, member of the Texas House of Representatives for the 147th  District located in Houston, Texas.  Representative Coleman is currently the senior ranking member of the Public Health Committee, the Chairman of County Affairs, and is serving on the House Select Committee on Opioid and Substance Abuse.  A Houston native, whose father was a prominent OB/GYN, Rep. Coleman understands just how important receiving proper care before, during and after pregnancy is for Black mothers. During his remarks at the Summit, Rep. Coleman expressed the belief that one problem Black mothers face is that the healthcare system is not as responsive as it could be. He pledged his continuing support and advocacy to improve outcomes for Black mothers and asked participants to speak up on legislation to address the issue.

During the afternoon session Summit attendees were asked to develop strategies to address: “What are the three most important changes that can happen in the next twelve months to stop Black mothers from dying postpartum in Travis County?”  The answers they provided reflected changes needed in healthcare practices, community responses and resources, as well changes needed at a policy level.

For media coverage of the event, please click the blue links below.

  • Statesman,”Photos: Black Mothers Summit at Huston – Tillotson University on March 27th, 2018″
  • Statesman, “Panel: racism, gentrification, contribute to maternal health crisis
  • Spectrum News, “Summit addresses rising maternal mortality rates among Black mothers in Texas”
  • KUT 90.5, “Other Cities Are Tackling Maternal Deaths Among Black Women. Austin Can, Too”

Save the Date:
TxDOT Professional Services & Heavy Highway Construction DBE Contracting Events

The Texas Department of Transportation is hosting a series of events focused on expanding the participation of DBE/SBE and HUB certified firms in the upcoming Houston District contracting opportunities.  Specifically the Houston District has two events on the horizon.The first event will be dedicated to discussing the professional engineering procurements for services (i.e., design, hydrology, surveying, public involvement, construction inspection, others)  that will be forthcoming over the next 6 -18 months.

The second event will focus specifically on the heavy highway construction contracts anticipated to be let/awarded in the next 6-18 months.  The dates and locations for each are provided below.

WHAT: The Professional Services Event
WHEN: Thursday, April 19th , 8:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
WHERE: Texas Department of Transportation-Houston District Auditorium, 7600 Washington Avenue, Houston, Texas 77007

Click here to RSVP. 

WHAT: The Heavy Highway Construction DBE Contracting Event
WHEN: Friday, May 4th , 8:30a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Texas Department of Transportation-Houston District Auditorium, 7600 Washington Avenue, Houston, Texas 77007

Click here to RSVP.

Neighborhood Fantasies at Project Row Houses Runs Through April 22nd

Project Row Houses presents Neighborhood Fantasies. This exhibit integrates the spirit of an emerging art photographer Evan Coleman with the work of PRH founding artist Jesse Lott. The exhibit runs through April 22nd. Please see below for details.

Neighborhood Fantasies, presented by Project Row Houses

Community Gallery
2521 Holman Street
Houston, TX 77004

Wed – Sun | Noon to 5pm
*Neighborhood Fantasies runs through April 22nd*


Below is an explanation of Neighborhood Fantasies from Project Row Houses.

Curated by Kathleen Coleman in conjunction with Fotofest 2018.“Neighborhood Fantasies integrates the spirit of an emerging art photographer Evan Coleman with the work of PRH founding artist Jesse Lott.Kathleen Coleman curates this exhibition .

The Houston urban landscape is an eclectic image of symbolic eras in time. The photographer Evan Coleman has captured the images of homes, office buildings, flora, fauna, roads, and houses; front yards where a person rides in a car or walks down a major street and a back road, familiar depictions portrayed in photo montages such as: a trailer, hamburger joints, resale businesses or party events are included. There are familiar images in the collages–a water hose, a variety of mangoes, giant watermelons floating across the sky to create everyday dreams as we ride along. Let us not forget the porcelain cats resting in the window of a house, in a daydream; a central, focal image throughout the exhibition. The fantasy photo of a windowsill of cats is inviting Jesse Lott, who inserted a dog to peer at them through the window.

Jesse Lott has made blind cuts, and separated them by color, thus creating the opportunity to assemble a puzzle, which has never been solved. This concept in brief can be thought of as documentation of the reality reconstructed as a fantasy supplemented with the original subject matter. Recontextualisation places the images into a new perspective, meaning changes within the point of view of the artist applied, which inspires the public to visualize and imagine the symbols or the object commonly viewed in our daily lives. In the collages, a bounce house is cut up and fruit from a stand is placed to add color with common objects to form depth and structure such as concrete.

The countless forms of architecture from one neighborhood to another incorporate Houston’s diversity at its finest, in addition to revealing gentrification from one street to another. Repetitive objects are common features in the artwork in Neighborhood Fantasies therefore a perception is a sense of belonging in the heart of the city through art and collective experiences. The concept is evolving to produce involvement within the community to enlighten themselves within their own area. The artist team will continue to conceive fantasy from random reality.

Thank you to our sponsors Melanie Lawson, John Guess, A Rocket Moving and Storage, Womack Development, and Mayberry Homes.

Please click here for more information.

Sandra Bland exhibit at Houston Museum of African-American Culture EXTENDED until April 28th

The Houston Museum of African-American Culture is celebrating the life of Ms. Sandra Bland with an interactive exhibit, running until Saturday, April 28th. The museum is CLOSED Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

See below for hours and details. Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy of African American News.


Houston Museum of African-American Culture
4807 Caroline Houston, Texas 77004 

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 11am-6pm
Thursday: 11am-8pm
Friday, Saturday: 11am-6pm 

General Admission to the museum is free, however donations are accepted.CONTACT
(713) 526-1015

Information on Southmore Blvd Bridge Construction

Our song of the week is “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley.

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