ABOUT FINISH THE 5
Finish The 5 is a youth-led campaign dedicated to the closure of Texas’ 5 state-secure juvenile detention facilities and investments in community-based alternatives to incarceration. Finish The 5 is led by a coalition of youth organizers, activists, advocates, formerly incarcerated individuals, and their allies who are collaboratively raising awareness about incarcerated kids’ living conditions in Texas youth prisons while advocating for a slate of legislation during the Texas 2023 legislative session.
Our goal is to build a large-scale youth-led movement through a connected network of grassroots organizations and individuals and mobilize youth across the state and nation to fight for prison abolition.
In August 2022, an investigation by the Texas Tribune revealed that about 600 children in Texas’ 5 state secure juvenile detention facilities are living in dangerous and unsanitary conditions. Incident reports revealed that kids in understaffed facilities were stuck in their cells for over 22 hours a day and were unable to access bathrooms. High numbers of these incarcerated children were on suicide watch, and some had harmed themselves.
The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) was already under investigation by the federal Department of Justice. That investigation, launched in October 2021, is examining “whether Texas provides children confined in the facilities reasonable protection from physical and sexual abuse by staff and other residents, excessive use of chemical restraints and excessive use of isolation." The investigation is also examining "whether Texas provides adequate mental health care.”
The treatment of children in these youth prisons is inhumane and unacceptable. It represents a critical failure by state leadership and by an agency that claims to prioritize rehabilitation. Although leaders have excused these pervasive and decades-long issues by blaming current low staffing levels at TJJD, the Finish the 5 Coalition is demanding a culture shift.
Shut down TJJD’s five state-secure institutions by 2027 through a thoughtful, staggered closure plan
Invest in building communities’ infrastructure to appropriately address the needs of children who would have been sent to TJJD, and allow recapture from closed facilities to reimburse the costs for community-based resources
Enact policy reforms that decriminalize youth, diverting children from the criminal punishment system altogether
“If any parent was treating children this way, they would have their families ripped apart, they would face criminal prosecution.”
DR. RYAN SHANAHAN, A RESEARCH DIRECTOR WITH THE VERA INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE