Mission

Breaking the cycle of crime by strengthening families through support, education, and advocacy.

About 200,000 adult men and women are incarcerated at any one time in county jails and state correctional facilities in Texas. The state has the unenviable distinction of having more individuals behind bars than any other state in the country.

Left behind are family members and friends: 55 percent leave behind a spouse, and 85 percent or more leave behind a parent and/or a child. In fact, about 75 percent of male inmates and more than 95 percent of female inmates have a child younger than 18. More than half have a child younger than 10.

A Letter From a Mother

Dear TIFA,

Thank you so much for bringing the Smiths into my life… it’s prayer answered. Since I’m up here in Nebraska. That’s why phone calls mean so much, it’s all we have. Over the years, I wasn’t able to get down there much because my husband was in the VA Hospital so much and not really able to go on long trips. So having people down there for support is such a blessing. I’m sure they are very compassionate people working in their ministry and with TIFA—sometimes the forgotten sector of society for many unless directly affects them… I’ve learned. Amazing how much you learn going through all of this with the County and TDCJ systems.

Takes such a caring and loving heart to do what they do—helping people in all walks of life. I’m looking forward to speaking with them in hopes they can allay the fears that I’m having that tend to run away with me in that I’m up here alone. I’ve found that many close friends and even some family don’t want to discuss even my husband’s passing or Bryan’s situation because it’s like there but for the Grace of God go I—hitting a bit too close to home. Some have just pealed off slowly drifting away not wanting to confront the realities of life or situations that don’t affect them.

Bless you for all that you, TIFA and people like the Smiths who give so selflessly to help all of us in this situation which is so difficult every single day without complications like a medical issue such as Joe’s and others. I think we sometimes lose sight of that getting so caught up and focusing on only our own situation—but without people like all of you, many like me would be lost and have no where to turnl—to know we’re not traveling this road alone and someone DOES care enough just to listen.

Without all of you willing to help, I don’t know if I could make it—especially when Joe was telling me in more detail what his foot looked like. He said he couldn’t believe how much of the top of his foot was taken… exposing so much of the bone. Worse than I thought but Baylor Scott-White is overseeing his care even while he’s in the Infirmary so that’s comforting. If I had to carry this alone without someone to reach out to… well, I’m just thankful and blessed that you understand and care when so many do not. Especially those that you thought would above anyone else, can’t be there for you. Thankfully my brother in Pennsylvania has been so helpful as Joe didn’t want anyone to know about his situation… I told him that someone in the family needs to know where you are what’s happening besides me and he agreed. I feel much better having my brother in my court now… and all of you down there.

I told Joe I was so glad I found your organization, the FB pages and I’m proud to be a member of such a wonderful organization that does so much to help our loved ones—to make changes in the laws to the extent that you do. Wish I were closer so I could join a chapter and attend meetings. May God’s blessings be on all of you who show His Face to the world via your compassion and sacrifices for others.

Gratefully,

A Mom

Sept 30, 2018

What we do

TIFA provides support, education, and advocacy for our members through monthly chapter meetings, this website, a quarterly newsletter, and access to the executive director of TIFA. Some of our accomplishments and services:

  • Provide  several different types of workshops that orient new families to TDCJ and that answer questions about parole and how to assemble a parole packet
  • Provide webinars to our members who cannot attend chapter meetings because of distance or their schedule
  • Launched new chapters and increased new memberships and renewals
  • Send holiday cards with inmate-specific greetings from local chapter members to their loved ones and others without outside support so they know they are not forgotten during the holidays
  • Send weekly Constant Contact email messages to keep members informed about important issues, conditions and changes
  • Distribute, free TDCJ approved clear coin purses for member use when visiting loved ones
  • Locate inmates who have been transferred from county jails to TDCJ for anxious families
  • Represent members in discussions with TDCJ and legislative officials
  • Provided ongoing updates about the Texas Legislature
  • All of the above items were provided to members as a part of their memberships in TIFA.

What our members say about TIFA

How some of our members answered the question “Where do you live and what does being a member of the TIFA community mean to you?”

Paris, Lamar County, Texas! Our daughter is in Crain Unit in Gatesville but in Trustee Camp …WAHOO!!! TIFA is such a big loving informative blessing to us. I was so lost five years ago and heart broken and absolutely scared to death for my daughter’s safety. But from Plane St unit to Hobby Unit and now to Crain Unit this organization and it’s members in both Member group and other group have been in front of me guiding me, walking beside me helping me to learn I was not alone and behind me having my back!! And as you have been on this journey with me, I have helped others just starting their journeys. Thank you and God bless you all!

Scroggins, Texas, I could never have gotten this far after my son ended up in TDCJ without TIFA family support. It’s when bad things happen that you find out who your real family and friends are. Thank you TIFA family for all you do.

Houston… It’s where the real journey began.

West Columbia. I’ve spent many years working alone on helping my loved one; too many people I know did not understand knowing people in prison – and I felt I could not share my thoughts and concerns with them. I had been able to hire lawyers and thought that would be enough. Then I was introduced to TIFA. It was like a ‘homecoming.’ Suddenly there are lots of people all facing similar issues and also lots of answers and an organization that is hoping to change the system for the better.

Spring Hill, Tennessee, because I have gotten so many answers to questions I had at the beginning! Assurance and peace in so many situations of uncertainty! Found good friends and acquaintances who have loved ones in similar situation to my LO! Thank You TIFA!!

Humble, I think everyone should donate time to a non profit organization. I chose TIFA because someone’s past shouldn’t define their future.

Kerrville. In the 3 yrs I’ve been a member, I’ve seen TIFA make great changes in the system. And the FB page helps me to know I’m not in this struggle alone. Thanks, TIFA!

Austin, Supportive and has opened my eyes to other resources. Thankful and glad I can talk to people who understand.

Manvel – Houston area/ Pearland. I believe united we can make changes to the Justice system and the prison system

San Saba and I love the tifa family ! Everyone is great !

Houston and yes I agree with all these VOICES we can start making CHANGES!!!!

New York state…TIFA has allowed me to meet others with loved ones in TDCJ. TIFA is a voice for our loved ones and committed to seeing change within Texas prisons. I wish I lived in Texas where I could be more involved. Also the TIFA Facebook page has a wealth of information, such as on lockdowns, the fact that toothpaste and deodorant may be in short supply, etc.

Soldotna, Alaska. My son is at Hamilton unit until they decide to move him. I visit when able, meaning he only gets 2-3 visits a year unsure emoticon.

Humble/spring. They are very supportive and fight for our loved ones.

Carlsbad, NM.. My husband is in Jester 3 right outside of Houston. I get to see him about every 2 months. Being able to share our heartaches and triumphs with this family, who all know what we are going through, means the world to me.

I live in Houston, TX. and Tifa means that I am not alone, that I am loved, and will never be forgotten.

Weimar, Texas. I joined the group when I was trying to get my old cell partner out on parole. I seem to get along better with people who know what it is like to have been inside or who have loved ones there. TDCJ is way too big. They are incapable of giving prisoners the guidance they need to make a easy transition from incarceration to freedom. That is because there are too many people in jail. I was lucky. I did go to college and welding school when I was there and was able to turn my welding skills into a job I held till retirement was available. I still participate in the group because I like to keep up with what is going on inside and maybe I can help answer questions because of my experience.

Anna,Texas
My son will soon enter the system
So frightening
He asked that I join to have someone to talk to
Im alone in this and its going to destroy me when he leaves the outside world so for now I’m here for support Thank you

San Antonio, Tx. My son is at McConnell Unit and I have to think it is because of the wealth of information that we have gained since joining TIFA. I have tried for six years to get him reassigned to a unit closer to home because I am disabled and cannot endure the long trips to see him. It strengthens his moral to know that his family is not the only one fighting for him anymore; that we have allies!! The support I have gained is invaluable. In your heart of hearts you know that you are not alone but to actually read what others are going through and that they are sharing your experiences and journey is an incredible feeling. POWER IN NUMBERS!!!!

Brazoria. .. my son is in San Antonio. TIFA helps me understand a lot that goes on!

I live in Lockhart. Being a TIFA member means the world to me!! So many differences made. Feeling blessed to connect with so many others who know what I go through!! Peace, love and prayers to you and your loved ones!! Remember what a BLESSING TO THEM YOU ARE!!

Austin, I know I am not alone and knowing and seeing how important the work TIFA does is priceless!

Austin, my Dad’s in the Pack Unit in Navasota & my cousin is in the Galveston County Jail. Collectively belonging to TIFA makes our families a force to be reckoned with so that we are not so easily used or abused by the inhumane & broken criminal justice system that holds our loved ones prisoner.

San Antonio TIFA let’s us know we are not alone, allows us to help one another, we can at one time lead and at other times follow. Have been involved for fourteen years. Sixteen to go…(minimum)…

Conroe, Being a member of TIFA has given me the information and support I need to help my LO through this.

I’m in Lancaster PA Tifa to me means I’m not alone in this journey and the supports there when it’s needed

San Antonio, You are surrounded by people who know what you are going through, care and understand you completely. Being a active member of TIFA gives me great pleasure knowing that TIFA not only supports the families but does everything they can for our loved ones behind those bars of steel and cement.

Odessa Tx. Have learned a lot from this group by either asking or seeing others post.

Cedar Hill, Tx TIFA has many meanings to me. I am not alone, there are others helping to bring change with me, I can make a difference. Information and support are just a question or post away. Thank you for everything you do TIFA and others involved.

I am from Denmark and my boyfriend is in Polunsky. I am going there in November.

Richardson TX My husband is at the Allred Unit. He loves the information that he receives and loves the work of TIFA. I enjoy TIFA for the support you get. I’m a member but only attended on meeting. It is very informative and they fight for the rights of our loved ones

I’m from Spring, Texas In the beginning TIFA was there to support me through the most scary time of my life…now I’m stronger and love being able to help others find the answers they need and hopefully make positive changes in the system.

Ben Wheeler, Tx. Where to begin…it’s been my family’s answer to a 1,000 questions and a support group that’s there for us 24 hrs. a day. To our LO… a source of support and the comfort of knowing he is not alone. We stand in awe of all of the work we see that TIFA does on a daily basis and know we are blessed to have been guided TIFA’s direction.

Manvel,Tx The TIFA community is one that understands where most of the outside world doesn’t.

Montgomery, TX. TIFA has opened my eyes, been there for me. Shown me we are all in this together, for each other and our loved ones. Making changes that can be made and learning to deal with things that cannot be changed.

Chicago, IL. It does me good to know that my concerns are being met by members in Texas, that keep me informed about the unit that my son is in. TIFA is doing a great job. So glad I am a member of TIFA!!!!

Conroe, Tx. I support my nephew who is a 31 year veteran of TDCJ. I think TIFA is great for families and friends. Support is vital to success – Keep Calm and Carry on….

Ways to Volunteer

If you are a TIFA member and are interested in serving on TIFA’s Board of Directors, please email tifa@tifa.org or write us at the address listed below. Board members should have experience in one or more of the following: management, member recruitment, fundraising, financial management, technology or legislative planning.

 

TIFA Board Nominating Committee
PO Box 300220
Austin, TX 78703

TIFA Committees

Membership Committee Chair: Patti Kassel.

The Membership Committee’s foremost goal is to enhance relationships with current members and to expand our membership base to include more families with incarcerated loved ones.

Legislation Committee Chair: Jennifer Erschabek & Lauren Oertel.

The Legislative Committee represents TIFA members to the Texas Legislature, analyzes pending legislation, works for change in the criminal justice system, and informs our members on all things legislative.

Communication Committee Chair: Susie Bannon.

The Communications Committee places particular emphasis upon increasing the availability of online and electronic information exchange, as well as exploring efforts to increase awareness through the media of TIFA as a support organization for families.

Chapters Committee Chair: Sharon Bass.

The Chapter Committee works with the TIFA chapters across the state and helps members organize new chapters.