TOP Leads Community Effort for System Set to Transform Legal Representation for Low-Income Defendants
SAN ANTONIO, TX — This past Saturday, June 24, Texas Organizing Project (TOP) championed the cause of justice reform in Bexar County at a well-attended community luncheon. More than 100 community members celebrated the rollout of the Managed Assigned Counsel (MAC) system, an initiative aimed at providing fair legal representation to more county residents, specifically low-income defendants and those who are awaiting trial.
Set to become Texas’s largest when fully launched later this year, the MAC system intends to curtail unwarranted jail time and raise the standard of legal defense for adults and youth facing misdemeanor and felony charges. Additionally, the system will extend access to mental health services and offer an in-house immigration attorney.
Laquita Garcia, TOP’s Statewide Right2Justice Coordinator, proudly stated, “TOP pushed for the MAC system through intensive community organizing, reflecting our unyielding commitment to ending the mass incarceration and criminalization of poverty affecting Black and Latino people in Texas. We’re proud to have led this community-driven win to transform our justice system into one that is more equitable and just.”
Judges from several local courts echoed Garcia’s sentiments and applauded TOP’s role in the MAC system’s implementation:
Honorable Judge Melanie Lira (County Court 7) said, “We needed someone to be able to connect and communicate with these attorneys so that way we know that they are providing effective assistance. What the MAC is doing is exactly that.”
Honorable Judge Ron Rangel (Texas 379th District Court), commended TOP’s role in the implementation of the MAC. “Already you’re seeing results,” Rangel said. “This could not have happened without the community support. It could not have happened without the pressure you, TOP, your organization has put on the county. Thanks so much for that.”
Honorable Judge Yolanda Huff (County Court 12) also voiced her support for the new system: “I’m a big supporter of the MAC program. It’s not always about sending somebody to jail. I’m a big proponent that if you have a mental health issue, you do not need to be in jail.”
The event marked a significant step in Bexar County’s commitment to creating a fair and more equitable justice system, a cause TOP is dedicated to championing for all Texans – no matter their age, race, gender, background, or geographic location.
About Texas Organizing Project
TOP organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Fort Bend counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.