Tribpedia: Texas Department Of Criminal Justice


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 ...


John Cornyn Seeks to Ban 'Murderabilia'

Ted Bundy’s fried hair. Sperm from college campus shooter Wayne Lo. Dirt from the crawl space where John Wayne Gacy stored 26 bodies. All are collectors’ items in the macabre world of murderabilia. The more infamous the killer, the bigger the price tag — at least for now. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and a Houston city official are working to exterminate the industry they say allows murderers and rapists to make money from their crimes. Murderabilia peddlers insist they operate in good taste. “We don't push this into anyone's face,” says the owner of

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of May 31, 2010

Ramshaw on geriatric care in state prisons, with Miller's photo essay inside those walls; M. Smith interviews the state's newest Supreme Court justice, Debra Lehrmann; Aguilar finds fewer Mexicans seeking asylum in the U.S; Galbraith sorts out the politics of pollution and whether our air is dangerous to breathe; Thevenot discovers authorities writing tickets for misbehavior to elementary school kids; Philpott reports on early hearing about political redistricting; Kreighbaum examines fines levied against polluters and finds they're often smaller than the economic benefits of the infractions; and Stiles and Babalola spotlight some of our data projects from our first seven months online: The best of our best from May 31 to June 4, 2010.

An inmate sleeps in his cubicle in the geriatric unit of the Estelle Prison in Huntsville.
An inmate sleeps in his cubicle in the geriatric unit of the Estelle Prison in Huntsville.

Few Texas Inmates Get Released on Medical Parole

Texas’ “geriatric” inmates (55 and older) make up just 7.3 percent of Texas’ 160,000-offender prison population, but they account for nearly a third of the system’s hospital costs. Prison doctors routinely offer up the oldest and sickest of them for medical parole, a way to get those who are too incapacitated to be a public threat and have just months to live out of medical beds that Texas’ quickly aging prison population needs. They’ve recommended parole for 4,000 such inmates within the last decade. But the state parole board has only agreed in a quarter of these cases, leaving the others to die in prison — and on the state’s dime.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of May 24, 2010

Ramsey on what the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll says about the governor's race, education, immigration, and other issues; Grissom on a far West Texas county divided over Arizona's immigration law; Ramshaw talks health care reform and obesity in Texas with a legendary Dallas doctor; M. Smith on the Collin County community that's about to break ground on a $60 million high school football stadium; Aguilar on the backlog of cases in the federal immigration detention system; Philpott of the Green Party's plans to get back on the ballot; Hu on the latest in the Division of Workers' Comp contretemps; Mulvaney on the punishing process of getting compensated for time spent in jail when you didn't commit a crime; Hamilton on the fight over higher ed formula funding; and my sit-down with state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin: The best of our best from May 24-28, 2010.

State Share of Indigent Defense Costs 2001-2009
State Share of Indigent Defense Costs 2001-2009

Advocates: Texas Indigent Defense Nearing Crisis

Before adopting the Fair Defense Act in 2001, Texas was considered abysmal in legal circles when it came to providing representation for the poor. Proponents and critics of the current system agree the situation has improved since lawmakers started requiring counties to implement minimum representation standards. But has it improved enough?

Courts for Accused Veterans Prioritize Treatment

For many of the more than 150,000 Texans who have returned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the struggle to cope with the horrors they've seen can result in drug addiction and violent outbursts. To deal with those harsh realities, 10 counties are working to establish "veterans courts" that would emphasize treatment or counseling over punishment.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Apr 26, 2010

Stiles and Thevenot's searchable database of more than 5,800 public schools, Thevenot on why smaller high schools are better, Garcia-Ditta on the possible unification of Big Bend National Park with Mexico, Grissom on what's likely to happen on immigration reform this year (nothing), Hamilton on how Admm Bobby Ray Inman is managing a crisis, Hu on the health care reform straw man, Ramsey on the no-shoo-in-for-the-experienced-guy special election in Senate District 22, Philpott on the likely post-Arizona immigration brawls, Ramshaw on the emergence of concierge care as a response to health care reform, Aguilar on how Texas will soon become Cuba's top U.S. trading partner, Stiles and Babalola's searchable database of more 160,000 inmates in Texas prisons, M. Smith on the depressing fact that every single U.S. Attorney position in Texas is now vacant, and my on-camera sit-down with Texas Transportation Commission chair Deirdre Delisi. The best of our best from April 26 to 30, 2010.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Apr 12, 2010

Grissom on the fall of Norma Chávez; M. Smith and Ramsey on the runoffs, the results, and the aftermath; Hu on the Tea Party's birthday party; Thevenot and Stiles on the path between schools and prisons; Ramshaw on prosecutors' reaction to helping hands from Austin; Hamilton on self-appointed lawyers; Galbraith on property rights and power lines; Aguilar and Grissom sit down with the mayor of Juárez to talk about his crime-ridden city; Kraft on telling the stories of Texans and other Americans who died in Vietnam; Ramsey on slots and horses and casinos; and Hamilton goes on a field trip with Jim Hightower to hear the history of populism. The best of our best from April 5 to 9, 2010.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Apr 5, 2010

Grissom on her two hours in Juárez, Grissom, Ramshaw and Ramsey on four of the runoffs on Tuesday's ballot, Ramshaw on the religious experience that is voting for Dallas County's DA and an energy regulator's play for a job at the entity he regulates, Mulvaney on the Texas Senate's biggest spenders, Aguilar on whether — as U.S. officials claim — 90 percent of guns used in Mexican crimes really flow south from Texas, M. Smith on the continuing Texas Forensic Science Commission follies, Stiles on how inmates spend their money behind bars and how counties are responding at Census time, Hamilton on the creative accounting and semantic trickery that allows lawmakers to raise revenue without hiking taxes when there's a budget shortfall, and Hu on Austin's first-in-the-nation car-sharing program. The best of our best from April 5 to 9, 2010.

Texas Prisoners Spent $95 Million at Commissaries

Inmates serving time in Texas prisons and state jails can buy certain “free world” goods provided that people outside unit walls send them money. During the last fiscal year, they spent about $95 million at prison commissaries. The most popular items? Instant soup, stamps and soft drinks, according to data obtained under the Texas Public Information Act.

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.