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 ...

Read More...

Texas Prisons Run Low on Deodorant, Toothpaste

Texas prisons are running low on hygiene products like toothpaste and deodorant. Family members and inmates are frustrated as state officials try to find a contractor. For the roughly 151,000 inmates in the Texas prison system, there are 1,800 units of deodorant and 28,000 units of toothpaste left.

Visualization: Executions on Perry's Watch

The execution of Donnie Lee Roberts Jr., 41, on Wednesday for the 2003 shooting death of a Polk County woman marked the 250th execution during Gov. Rick Perry’s tenure, and the 12th in 2012. The total is the largest — by far — under any recent governor in the United States

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.

Some Inmates Forego Health Care to Avoid Higher Fees

When lawmakers decided to charge inmates $100 a year for medical treatments, they expected it to help plug holes in the prison budget. But critics of the new policy say the result is less health care for sick inmates. And the fee has not generated the hoped-for income.

Texas Inmate Demands Kosher Food

Jewish prison inmate Max Moussazadeh, housed in solitary confinement, is demanding that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice serve him kosher food. The courts have ruled he is "insincere." His lawyer says TDCJ is just plain stubborn. On Monday, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case.

A pharmacy technician loads pills into punch cards at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's pharmacy in Huntsville on Wed. Sept. 19, 2012.
A pharmacy technician loads pills into punch cards at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's pharmacy in Huntsville on Wed. Sept. 19, 2012.

Better Hepatitis Treatment Costly for Prisons

Inmates are among those most prone to contract hepatitis C, with the ubiquity of illicit prison tattoos and the tendency of criminals toward risky behaviors. The cost to treat inmates with hepatitis C is expected to soar as much as 380 percent next year. Legislators, already facing a strained budget, will have to find millions more dollars to pay for this care.

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, at a Sept. 4, 2012, hearing.
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, at a Sept. 4, 2012, hearing.

Lawmakers Revisit Approach to Solitary Confinement

Solitary confinement has increasingly become a national issue, as Congress has heard testimony about its psychological impact on prisoners. In Texas, there are concerns with the rehabilitation and re-entry of prisoners held for years without much human contact. For many, it's a matter of public safety.

TDCJ Faces Ongoing Staffing Challenges

During the 1990s, many Texans believed prison construction would help boost the economies in rural areas. Today, ongoing staffing shortages in rural units are causing legislators and other officials to reconsider that assumption. A Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman says addressing staffing issues remains a "top priority" for the department.

Probation Program Set for Trial Run in Texas

Since the first drug court began more than 20 years ago, the use of specialty courts has continued to grow nationwide. On Friday, a Hawaiian court program that closely oversees probation periods is set to begin in Texas and may help enhance the work of specialty courts.

Heated Arguments

Texas Weekly

While advocates worry particularly about heat conditions in a prison unit with recent water shortages, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering arguments in a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice alleging that the sweltering living quarters constitute cruel and unusual punishment. 

Interactive: Texas Wrongful Conviction Explorer

At least 86 Texans' convictions were overturned between 1989 and 2011, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. The Texas Tribune analyzed court rulings, media reports and pardon statements to determine the cases in which courts ruled that prosecutorial error contributed to a wrongful conviction. Use our interactive to learn more about each case.

Family Sues TDCJ Over Heat-Related Death

As summer temperatures rise, so do worries about conditions in state prisons. Today, the Texas Civil Rights Project filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Texas prison officials on behalf of the family of an inmate who died last summer.

Manuel Velez was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s infant son in 2005.
Manuel Velez was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s infant son in 2005.

Death Sentence Thrown Out in 2005 Murder Case

A death sentence was reversed for Manuel Velez, who is convicted of first-degree murder for the death of his girlfriend's son. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the sentence because of inaccurate expert testimony given during Velez's sentencing.

Sunset Advisory Commission members Sen. Nichols R-Jacksonville, Sen. Whitmire D-Houston and Sen. Patrick R-Houston during June 5th, 2012 meeting
Sunset Advisory Commission members Sen. Nichols R-Jacksonville, Sen. Whitmire D-Houston and Sen. Patrick R-Houston during June 5th, 2012 meeting

Sunset Commission: TDCJ Can Improve in Communication

The Sunset Advisory Commission has found that there is room for improvement at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The commission discussed accountability, budgetary efficiency, response to inmate grievances and communication.