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 ...

Perry: Anti-Prison Rape Standards "Impossible"

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).

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. 

Male detainees work to fix a cell door inside of the Dawson State Jail in Dallas on Jul. 31, 2013.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice decided not to renew its contract with the Corrections Corporation of America for the Dawson State Jail after the state legislature struck 97 million dollars from its funding.  The unit will begin relocating its offenders on Aug. 1, 2013, and expects to have all offenders relocated by the end of the month.
Male detainees work to fix a cell door inside of the Dawson State Jail in Dallas on Jul. 31, 2013. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice decided not to renew its contract with the Corrections Corporation of America for the Dawson State Jail after the state legislature struck 97 million dollars from its funding. The unit will begin relocating its offenders on Aug. 1, 2013, and expects to have all offenders relocated by the end of the month.

In Two Cities, Opposite Reactions to State Jail Closing

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For only the second time in the state’s history, lawmakers are closing inmate facilities to reduce bed capacity. The decision by legislators this year to close two privately run jails operated by the Corrections Corporation of America is being met with very different reactions in the communities where the jails are situated.

Scottie Louis Forcey, 21, photographed at the Barry B. Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas on July 2, 2013. Forcey is serving a life sentence without parole for a murder committed when he was 16.
Scottie Louis Forcey, 21, photographed at the Barry B. Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas on July 2, 2013. Forcey is serving a life sentence without parole for a murder committed when he was 16.

Young Murderers Await Legislature's Punishment Decision

Scottie Forcey is the youngest of 23 convicted Texas murderers who were younger than 18 when they received mandatory sentences of life without parole. Those inmates could get the chance to be parole eligible after serving 40 years in prison as legislators work to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.
This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.

Visualization: Executions on Perry's Watch

Wednesday's execution of Kimberly McCarthy, 52, for the 1997 stabbing death of her neighbor will mark Texas' 500th execution since 1976 and the 261st during Gov. Rick Perry's tenure. Those statistics represent the largest number of executions in any state — and under any recent governor in the United States. Use our interactive to view information on each execution under Perry.

In his Jan. 29, 2013, State of the State speech, Gov. Rick Perry avoided hot-topic issues like abortion, immigration and gun control and focused instead on infrastructure, budget reform and education.
In his Jan. 29, 2013, State of the State speech, Gov. Rick Perry avoided hot-topic issues like abortion, immigration and gun control and focused instead on infrastructure, budget reform and education.

Abortion-Related Legislation Added to Special Session

The agenda of the ongoing special session is growing, and now it includes the hot-button issue of abortion — which is sure to spark partisan warfare. Gov. Rick Perry also ordered the Legislature to take up a measure dealing with sentences for 17-year-olds convicted of capital felonies.

83rd Lege's Regular Session: What Happened, What Didn't

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Lawmakers raced to get several bills passed before the 83rd Legislature's regular session ended. And with Monday's announcement of a special session, their work isn't done. Here's a look at the deals reached and the measures that fell short in the regular session. 

Crowds of visitors, lobbyists, and lawmakers turned out to the Texas capitol for the opening day of the 83rd legislative session, Jan. 8, 2013.
Crowds of visitors, lobbyists, and lawmakers turned out to the Texas capitol for the opening day of the 83rd legislative session, Jan. 8, 2013.

Liveblog: What's Left for the 83rd Legislature

The clock is ticking for lawmakers hard at work to pass prize bills in the final days of the 83rd legislative session. Here's a look at what's still outstanding. Check back often: We'll update this story as deals are brokered or broken. 

 

A sign outside of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Headquarters in Huntsville. Last year, Texas prison officials approved a $3,000 bonus for correctional officers in units where a boom in oil and gas jobs has made it hard to find new hires. They are currently working with state lawmakers to grant all correctional officers a 5 percent pay increase.
A sign outside of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Headquarters in Huntsville. Last year, Texas prison officials approved a $3,000 bonus for correctional officers in units where a boom in oil and gas jobs has made it hard to find new hires. They are currently working with state lawmakers to grant all correctional officers a 5 percent pay increase.

Prison Officers' Union Unhappy With 5% Pay Raise

Correctional officers in a statewide union say that a 5 percent pay increase lawmakers have proposed in the state budget is not sufficient to stymie the corruption and reduce physical dangers they face every day. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice argues that that all critical security positions are filled.