Tribpedia: Criminal Justice

Case of "San Antonio Four" Set to Enter its Final Act

Anna Vasquez was released from prison in November 2012, after 12 years in prison. She and three other women are attempting to get exonerated after one of the alleged victims recanted in 2012.
Anna Vasquez was released from prison in November 2012, after 12 years in prison. She and three other women are attempting to get exonerated after one of the alleged victims recanted in 2012.

Four San Antonio women were convicted of molesting two girls in the 1990s, but one of the girls has since said they were coerced to make false accusations. The women's case is getting a new look, and an April 22 hearing will be key in determining what happens.

Detainees line up to leave the outdoor recreation area at theTravis County Juvenile Detention Center in Austin on June 24, 2013.
Detainees line up to leave the outdoor recreation area at theTravis County Juvenile Detention Center in Austin on June 24, 2013.

Texas Among States Facing "Raise the Age" Debate

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Texas is one of nine states that automatically classify 17-year-olds as adults when they're accused of crimes. Campaigns to “raise the age” are gathering momentum in some states, and Texas is facing a spirited debate of its own.

UT/TT Poll: Voters Less Open to Open Carry

Most Texans support carrying guns in public, but only a minority supports carrying them openly, whether the carriers are licensed or not, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. And voters are split when it comes to allowing people to carry guns on the state's public college campuses. 

Senators John Whitmire, D-Houston, left, and Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, congratulate Michael Morton, right, at a court hearing in Georgetown on April 19, 2013. That day, a judge issued an arrest warrant for former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, after finding probable cause to believe Anderson withheld critical evidence in Michael Morton's 1987 murder trial.
Senators John Whitmire, D-Houston, left, and Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, congratulate Michael Morton, right, at a court hearing in Georgetown on April 19, 2013. That day, a judge issued an arrest warrant for former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, after finding probable cause to believe Anderson withheld critical evidence in Michael Morton's 1987 murder trial.

Bill Would Expand DNA Testing for Criminal Cases

Michael Morton spent nearly 25 years in prison for murdering his wife before DNA evidence exonerated him and identified the real killer. But under current testing requirements, Morton may not have had access to the evidence that set him free. A new bill by state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, would expand access to DNA testing in criminal cases.

Navy Seal Sniper Chris Kyle signs a copy of his book “American Sniper” for a Camp Pendleton sailor in 2012.
Navy Seal Sniper Chris Kyle signs a copy of his book “American Sniper” for a Camp Pendleton sailor in 2012.

"American Sniper" Trial Tests Limits of Sympathy for Vets

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This week, jury selection began in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh for the murder of Chris Kyle, whose career as a soldier in Iraq (and “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history”) is dramatized in the film “American Sniper.” The trial will test the limits of American sympathy for the struggles of veterans when those struggles lead to criminal behavior.

The Slow Death of the Death Penalty

Since capital punishment was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, the cost of carrying out a death penalty trial has risen steadily. In states such as Texas, where county governments pay for both the prosecution and defense of capital defendants (nearly all of whom are indigent) when they go to trial, the pressure on local budgets is especially strong. 

Gov. Perry and DPS Director Steve McCraw, speak to media following a tour to a federal facility housing unaccompanied alien children in Weslaco, Texas June 23rd, 2014. The state is providing $1.3 million per week to commence surge operations to help combat crime along the border.
Gov. Perry and DPS Director Steve McCraw, speak to media following a tour to a federal facility housing unaccompanied alien children in Weslaco, Texas June 23rd, 2014. The state is providing $1.3 million per week to commence surge operations to help combat crime along the border.

Perry: Send Migrant Kids Home Without Delay

Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday doubled down on his stance that tens of thousands of children crossing into Texas illegally from Central America should be sent back to their countries without delay. 

Inmates Roberto Bisco and Robbie Robinson undergo dialysis in the medical center of the Estelle Unit in Huntsville, Texas.
Inmates Roberto Bisco and Robbie Robinson undergo dialysis in the medical center of the Estelle Unit in Huntsville, Texas.

With More Inmates on Dialysis, Officials Deal With Rising Costs

A small but expensive and ever-growing group of Texas inmates requires dialysis. Fewer than 230 inmates who receive dialysis treatment account for about 3 percent of the entire prison system's pharmaceutical budget. Lawmakers and prison officials are struggling to manage the cost as the need for treatment increases.

Bernie Tiede leaves the Panola County Courthouse on May 6, 2014.
Bernie Tiede leaves the Panola County Courthouse on May 6, 2014.

"Bernie" Movie Leads to Bernie's Freedom

Filmmaker Richard Linklater always thought life in prison was too harsh for Bernie Tiede, the East Texas mortician who murdered his 81-year-old companion. Now — in large part because of Linklater's film on him — Tiede is no longer behind bars. One of the conditions of Tiede's release is that he live on Linklater’s property in Austin.

"Illuminating Spirits," an art and poetry exhibition by incarcerated women in the Texas prison system, are displayed at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, presented by The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and the City of Austin.
"Illuminating Spirits," an art and poetry exhibition by incarcerated women in the Texas prison system, are displayed at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, presented by The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and the City of Austin.

Advocates Urge More Resources for Art Therapy in Prison

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Behind bars, art can be an important form of expression for women who have suffered from trauma, drug addiction or mental illness. And advocates for prisoner rights say they plan to ask lawmakers for more money to provide inmates with art supplies and art therapy.

Gov. Rick Perry and other officials brief the media at Fort Hood on April 4, 2014.
Gov. Rick Perry and other officials brief the media at Fort Hood on April 4, 2014.

Texas Could Get Millions for "Active Shooter" Training

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A law enforcement training center based at Texas State University in San Marcos may receive $15 million in federal money to support programs that train officers how to handle situations like the recent Fort Hood shooting.