Tribpedia: Texas Department Of Criminal Justice

Tribpedia

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is the state agency responsible for managing state prisons and jails and the oversight of more than 150,000 offenders. The agency also supervises offenders released from prison on parole.

The board is composed of nine members who are appointed by the governor to staggered, six-year terms. The governor also designates one member as ...

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In 2004, Davontae Marcel Williams, on the left, was found starved to death. Lisa Ann Coleman, on the right, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday night for her role in the boy's death. If carried out, she would be the sixth woman to be executed in Texas since 1982.
In 2004, Davontae Marcel Williams, on the left, was found starved to death. Lisa Ann Coleman, on the right, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday night for her role in the boy's death. If carried out, she would be the sixth woman to be executed in Texas since 1982.

Woman Executed for Boy's 2004 Starvation Death

UPDATED: Lisa Ann Coleman, 38, was executed Wednesday for the starvation death of her girlfriend’s son, Davontae Marcel Williams, 9. Coleman is the the sixth woman to be executed in the state since 1982.

Video: Program Unites Veterans Behind Bars

They served their country, then ended up on the wrong side of the law. Many of the more than 10,000 Texas veterans serving time behind bars say they attempted to erase the images of war through illegal drug use and got caught, sometimes more than once. A new Texas Department of Criminal Justice program is giving a group of veterans the resources and guidance to stay out of the legal system upon their release. 

 

Bernhardt "Bernie" Tiede exits the Panola County Court building with his attorney Jodi Cole after his hearing on Feb. 5, 2014 in Carthage. A state district judge agreed to release Tiede in May, 17 years into his life sentence.
Bernhardt "Bernie" Tiede exits the Panola County Court building with his attorney Jodi Cole after his hearing on Feb. 5, 2014 in Carthage. A state district judge agreed to release Tiede in May, 17 years into his life sentence.

"Bernie" Victim's Family Files Objection to His Release

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The family of the widow whose murder was the focus of the 2011 film "Bernie" objects to the court's decision to free the man who killed her, and wants the court to hear their case.

 

At the Hand Up, a halfway house in Houston, former inmates have more freedom to look for jobs than at state-chartered facilities, but few can afford the rent.
At the Hand Up, a halfway house in Houston, former inmates have more freedom to look for jobs than at state-chartered facilities, but few can afford the rent.

Despite Demand, Halfway Houses Struggle to Provide Care

A small fraction of the tens of thousands of inmates released in Texas each year find spots in state-contracted halfway houses. For many inmates, the private market is not an easy option either.

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.

Correctional officer Mike Warren walks with his contraband detector dog, Gus, during a demonstration of how the dog seeks out cellphones around the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.
Correctional officer Mike Warren walks with his contraband detector dog, Gus, during a demonstration of how the dog seeks out cellphones around the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

In Cellphone Contraband Cases, Few Face Charges

While confiscations of illicit cellphones in prisons have dropped, a Tribune investigation found that few inmates or correctional officers face legal consequences for smuggling the devices. It falls to prosecutors in the rural, cash-strapped regions where prisons are typically located to decide whether to spend resources on criminals who are already in jail or on local law enforcement officers.

Major Michael Gruver in recreation area of Clements Unit (r) and a Guard tower near front gate of Clements Unit, Texas Department of Corrections (l).
Major Michael Gruver in recreation area of Clements Unit (r) and a Guard tower near front gate of Clements Unit, Texas Department of Corrections (l).

Perry: Anti-Prison Rape Standards "Impossible"

Gov. Rick Perry told federal officials he would not sign a form complying with regulations meant to prevent prison rape and assault. Prison reform advocates worry the decision could have financial and legal consequences.

Solitary Confinement Study Approved but Lacks Funding

Lawmakers passed a bill that requires a study of solitary confinement in Texas prisons, but they didn't provide any money for it. Now, advocacy organizations are hoping to help track down dollars and researchers to find out how many prisoners are in solitary, how it affects them and what it costs the state.

An inmate practices meditation during a yoga session at the Powledge prison unit in Palestine on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.
An inmate practices meditation during a yoga session at the Powledge prison unit in Palestine on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

If the Sun Salutation Has to Fit Into a Cell

An Austin lawyer turned yogi has started a nonprofit yoga program for Texas inmates. The weekly two-hour sessions offer a spiritual reprieve. But both financial and administrative challenges lie ahead for the instructor who hopes to make yoga commonplace behind bars in Texas. 

Anthony Ormsbee places flowers with other volunteers at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas Monday Nov. 4, 2013 where a group placed roses on the more than 3000 headstones for All Souls Day.
Anthony Ormsbee places flowers with other volunteers at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas Monday Nov. 4, 2013 where a group placed roses on the more than 3000 headstones for All Souls Day.

For Prisoners and Families, Burials With Dignity

Prisoner rights advocates often criticize the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, but experts agree that offender burials are one thing the state prison system does well, especially compared with other states. Department officials say they strive to give prisoners dignified burials and to maintain the public cemetery. 

Major Michael Gruver in recreation area of Clements Unit (r) and a Guard tower near front gate of Clements Unit, Texas Department of Corrections (l).
Major Michael Gruver in recreation area of Clements Unit (r) and a Guard tower near front gate of Clements Unit, Texas Department of Corrections (l).

Violence Behind Bars: A Tie to Mental Illness

A Tribune analysis of violent-incident data in state prisons shows that far more violent incidents occur at facilities with large populations of mentally ill inmates. Criminal justice reform advocates say Texas needs a new approach to incarcerating the mentally ill. But criminal justice department officials say the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Interactive: Psychiatric Prisons See More Violence

Between 2006 and 2012, Texas psychiatric prison facilities reported the largest numbers of violent incidents per capita, according to data from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice analyzed by The Texas Tribune. Use this interactive to examine the violent incidents reported at more than 90 prisons during the six-year period. 

New Law Gives New Hope to Death Row Inmate

Convicted of stomping a 19-month-old baby to death, Robert Avila faces execution in January. Under a law passed this year that allows for new trials in cases where forensic science has advanced, Avila hopes to bring to court new scientific evidence that his lawyers say shows that the child's death could have been a tragic accident. 

Will Federal Moves Spur Texas Criminal Justice Change?

Texas Weekly

Since 2007, Texas has led the way nationally in criminal justice reforms, implementing alternatives to incarceration, increasing probation and parole programs, and using specialized courts to help habitual criminals and drug addicts break the prison cycle. Advocates hope federal action to reform sentencing laws will provide momentum for further changes here.