Tribpedia: Texas Board Of Pardons And Paroles

Tribpedia

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, composed of a chairman and six board members, makes recommendations to the governor about state prisoners' sentences, clemency, parole and supervision. The governor needs support from a majority of the board to alter a prisoner's sentence, which puts considerable weight behind the board's recommendations.

The board performs the following duties, in ...

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Greg Abbott (left), Craig Watkins (right)
Greg Abbott (left), Craig Watkins (right)

Dallas DA's Refusal of AG Assistance a Rare Move

Depending on whom you ask, Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins’ repeated refusal to allow Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott into a local corruption investigation is either bold or stupid. Either way, it’s unusual. Abbott has offered prosecution assistance to local district attorneys 226 times since 2007, when lawmakers first gave him permission to do it. In all but 16 cases, he’s been invited in. And Watkins didn't decline politely.

From left to right: Garry Adams, Sarah Kerrigan, and Aliece Watts at the House Public Safety Committee hearing.
From left to right: Garry Adams, Sarah Kerrigan, and Aliece Watts at the House Public Safety Committee hearing.

Lawmakers Grill Forensic Science Commission

Ninety minutes of back-and-forth on Wednesday between a House committee and representatives of the Texas Forensic Science Commission — but not its chairman — covered the besieged agency’s nonexistent enforcement power, lack of written procedural guidelines, and public records policy. Oh, and the late Cameron Todd Willingham.

Dallas DA Campaigns Nationally to Hold Local Seat

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins won’t go so far as to compare his support to the near-divine fervor of President Obama’s. But Watkins, who gained national prominence for using DNA evidence to exonerate nearly two dozen wrongfully convicted people in one of Texas’ notoriously tough-on-crime jurisdictions, will come close. “It’s a religious experience to vote for Craig Watkins,” Texas’ first African-American D.A. says without irony. Like Obama, he says, other Democratic candidates are “hanging their hats” on his re-election — and on the minority voters he draws to the polls. Like Obama, he’s got “a big target” on his back. “I’ve got to fight the political attacks coming at me from all directions," he insists. “I’ll say it publicly: If you throw punches at us, we’ll drop a bomb on you.”

International media gather around death penalty abolitionist Kiersten Saldano shortly after the Supreme Court announced a stay of Hank Skinner's execution.
International media gather around death penalty abolitionist Kiersten Saldano shortly after the Supreme Court announced a stay of Hank Skinner's execution.

Texas Death Row Inmate Skinner Gets Stay

Hank Skinner was set to die Wednesday for the 1993 murders of his live-in girlfriend and her two mentally disabled adult sons — a crime he insists he did not commit. About an hour before he was to have poison pushed through his veins, the U.S. Supreme Court spared his life.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Mar 15, 2010

Grissom on the 1.2 million Texans who've lost their licenses under the Driver Responsibility Act and the impenetrable black box that is the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Ramshaw and Kraft on nurses with substance abuse problems and rehabilitation that can get them back to work, M. Smith finds it's not easy being Rick Green, Stiles on counting Texans (and everybody else), Rapoport on the State Board of Education's war with itself and the runoff in SBOE District 10, Thevenot's revealing interview with a big-city superintendent on closing bad schools, Aguilar on the tensions over water on the Texas-Mexico border, Hamilton on the new Coffee Party, Hu on Kesha Rogers and why her party doesn't want her, Philpott on the runoff in HD-47, Ramsey on Bill White and the politics of taxes, and E. Smith's conversation with Game Change authors Mark Halperin and John Heleimann: The best of our best from March 15 to 19.

Secretive Board Makes Death Row Decisions

Barring the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is Hank Skinner’s last hope for reprieve from the poison-filled syringe he is set to meet on Wednesday. The board makes life-or-death decisions, recommending to the governor whether an execution should be delayed, called off or carried out, yet it’s one of the least transparent agencies in state government.

The DeLorean was first produced in 1981, shortly after the modern fax machine came into wide use in the mid-1970s. The fax apparently continues to be the primary mode of communication at the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The DeLorean was first produced in 1981, shortly after the modern fax machine came into wide use in the mid-1970s. The fax apparently continues to be the primary mode of communication at the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

State Agency Claims It Has No E-Mail

"There's really no e-mail to send you my questions?" Nope, she said, you'll have to fax them. Fax?! No e-mail?!?

Skinner Asks Perry for Reprieve

Lawyers for death row inmate Hank Skinner sent Gov. Rick Perry a letter yesterday asking him for a 30-day reprieve from Skinner's scheduled March 24 execution. The lawyers also asked Perry to order DNA testing on evidence that Skinner says could prove his innocence.

Skinner Execution Postponed

The trial judge who initially decided Hank Skinner would die Feb. 24 — one week from today — has pushed the execution date back to March 24, says Skinner attorney Rob Owen, co-director of the University of Texas at Austin’s Capital Punishment Clinic.

Texans Polled on Gambling, Jobs, Gay Marriage

Texans are more worried about the economy and the direction of the country than anything else, according to the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Other notable findings: Nearly two-thirds support either gay marriage or civil unions, nearly half prefer private health insurance to a government-run plan, and more than a third think the Legislature meets every year.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Jan 25, 2010

The death penalty and DNA testing in a 16-year-old triple murder in the Texas Panhandle. The second debate between the three Republican candidates for governor. Charter schools are having a hard time hanging on to the employees that matter the most: Teachers. The possibilities and perils of a switch to electronic medical records. A rundown of top races. Who's giving to candidates, and how much? Social networks and politicians. Ballots: The slow reveal. And a new and highly requested feature makes its debut. The best of our best from January 23 to 29, 2010.

I interviewed Henry "Hank" Watkins Skinner, 47, at the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice — death row — on January 20, 2010. Skinner was convicted in 1995 of murdering his girlfriends and her two sons; the state has scheduled his execution for February 24. Skinner has always maintained that he's innocent and for 15 year has asked the state to release DNA evidence that he says will prove he was not the killer.

Death Row Inmate Pleads for DNA Testing

It took a crew of eight Northwestern University students to bring national attention to questions about Hank Skinner's death sentence. But his legal pleas for more DNA testing of crime scene evidence — and his lawsuit against the Gray County district attorney — have gone nowhere. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, he'll be executed on Feburary 24.

Questions Arise Over DNA in Death Row Case

Hank Skinner is set to be executed for a 1993 murder he's always maintained he didn't commit. He wants the state to test whether his DNA matches evidence found at the scene, but prosecutors say the time to contest his conviction has come and gone. He has less than a month to change their minds.