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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Panel OKs Recommendations to Stop Wrongful Convictions

The Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense today approved money to help establish a public defender's office in Harris County — the largest urban area in the nation without one — along with a slate of measures meant to prevent innocent people from serving time.

Robert Perkinson on the History of Texas Prisons

Texas has long been a “tough on crime” state, but there has been a movement in recent years to change the system known more for its executions than for its rehabilitations. Robert Perkinson talked with Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune about the history of the state’s prison system and the possible changes ahead.
State Sen. John Whitmire speaks to reporters.
State Sen. John Whitmire speaks to reporters.

Lawmakers Look for Ways to Prevent DWI

The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice met today to talk about ways to stop Texans from getting behind the wheel after imbibing. Judges, police and even a third-time DWI offender told lawmakers some Texas drunken driving laws could use some stiffening, while other measures take punishment too far. 

Trying to Restore Integrity to Death Row Defense

After a series of investigative reports revealed serious problems with the quality of legal representation for indigent defendants on Texas death row, lawmakers created the Office of Capital Writs. California lawyer Brad Levenson will be moving to Texas to open the new office and attempt to restore some confidence in the state's busy system of capital punishment.

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 murderauction.com.

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?