Tribpedia: Criminal Justice

The execution chamber seen from one of two witness viewing rooms at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Huntsville Unit.
The execution chamber seen from one of two witness viewing rooms at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Huntsville Unit.

Jailhouse Snitch Claims Secret Deal in Death Case

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A second jailhouse informant claims he was offered a secret deal to testify in a death penalty case by former Navarro County prosecutor John Jackson, who has been accused of similar misconduct in the conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, chairman of the House Committee on County Affairs, expresses his frustration with DPS Director Steve McCraw during a hearing on mental health and jail standards on July 30, 2015.
State Rep. Garnet Coleman, chairman of the House Committee on County Affairs, expresses his frustration with DPS Director Steve McCraw during a hearing on mental health and jail standards on July 30, 2015.

Police Associations Ask Rep. Coleman to Apologize

Several law enforcement organizations are calling on State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, to apologize after saying he was "treated like a child" during a traffic stop last month. But Coleman said Thursday he doesn't see a reason why he should apologize.

After bodies decompose into bones, researchers organize the skeletons in the labs of the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University.
After bodies decompose into bones, researchers organize the skeletons in the labs of the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University.

Texas Body Farm Researchers Use Corpses to Solve Crimes

Freeman Ranch in San Marcos is home to about 50 human corpses donated to the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University, which uses them to conduct research that can help medical examiners identify bodies, rescuers find missing persons and law enforcement solve crimes. 

Preying on Texas Prisoners: When Guards Demand Sex

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Since 2000, the Texas prison system’s inspector general has referred nearly 400 cases of staff sex crimes against inmates to prosecutors. An analysis by The Marshall Project found that prosecutors refused to pursue almost half of those cases. And of 126 prison workers convicted of sexual misconduct or assault, just nine were sentenced to serve time in state jail. 

Texas Lawmakers to Consider Police Body Cameras

As a bystander's video of a South Carolina cop shooting and killing an unarmed black man reignites a national debate over police brutality, Texas lawmakers are set to discuss police body cameras in a public hearing. “Imagine if that officer in South Carolina had on a body camera," said state Rep. Ron Reynolds. "It’s highly doubtful that he would have behaved the way he did." 

 

 

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.

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

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.