Our Reports

TFDP monitors court practices in Texas and studies national developments related to the rights of poor people accused of criminal offenses. We publish reports concerning our research and recommend steps state and local officials can take to improve Texas’s criminal system.
Driven by Debt

This report issued by Texas Fair Defense Project and Texas Appleseed shows how driver license suspensions for unpaid fines and fees hurt Texas families.

San Antonio Should Exit the Omnibase Program: A Barrier to Employment for Low-Income Residents

This report issued by Texas Fair Defense Project and Texas Appleseed shows how once somebody enters the OmniBase Program and loses their ability to obtain a valid license, they become trapped in a cycle of debt.

Benefits of a Public Defender Office: Increasing Accountability and Effectiveness in Harris County's Indigent Defense System

This white paper argues that creation of a public defender office not only will enable Harris County to more effectively evaluate the quality of publicly-funded legal services, but also is likely to improve the quality of those services. A public defender office will provide safeguards against excessive workloads, access to investigative and support staff resources that are comparable to those enjoyed by the prosecution, and training and peer support to new and experienced defenders alike.

The Way Forward: Recommendations for Improving Indigent Defense in Texas on the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright

This report outlines several areas in which Texas is failing to meet Gideon’s requirements and to ensure that every poor person who is accused of a crime has a lawyer with the time and resources necessary to provide an adequate defense.

Depenalizing Poverty: A Proposal for Improving Harris County Bail Policies

This report details how Harris County’s reliance on bail schedules, limited use of personal bonds, and practice of conducting bail hearings without the participation of defense counsel lead to the unnecessary pretrial detention of poor people solely because they cannot afford financial bail.

Strengthening Juvenile Defense Representation by Partnering with Social Workers: A Holistic Approach

This report provides an introduction to the role social workers can play in holistic representation, with a focus on juvenile defense.

Pay or Stay: The High Cost of Jailing Texans for Fines and Fees

This joint report from Texas Fair Defense Project and Texas Appleseed details how tens of thousands of Texans are spending time in jail for non-jailable offenses.

Driven by Debt: Dallas

This report issued by Texas Fair Defense Project and Texas Appleseed details driver license holds issued by Dallas area courts and the impacts of these holds on low-income Dallas area residents. It recommends ways to end the punishment of poverty through driver license holds.

Housing is the Answer to the Housing Crisis: A Brief Report on HB 1925 and how the City of Austin can Support Rather Than Criminalize its Unhoused Community

On any given night, over 27,000 people are experiencing homelessnes in Texas. HB 1925 criminalizes homelessness statewide by creating a class C offense of camping for non-recreational purposes, where “camping” is defined as residing on public property while using a tent, tarp, or even a blanket to shield oneself from the elements. Uniquely, the bill contains a provision threatening state grant funds if any employee of a jurisdiction discourages enforcement of the offense. However, there is an opportunity to alleviate some of the harmful impact of the statewide camping ban through the “diversion or a provision of services in lieu of citation or arrest” provision in the bill. There are several ways to utilize this provision, but the most humane and effective option for local jurisdictions is to pursue investments in permanent supportive housing and accompanying community-based services as diversion to criminal legal involvement. In our report directed to the city of Austin, but relevant statewide, we highlight our key recommendations for utilizing the diversion provision: investments in housing and support services.


Because poverty is not a crime.

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