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 ...

Bill Seeks to Protect Those Who Film Peace Officers

State Sen. Craig Estes says Senate Bill 897, which he authored, addresses charges that could be filed as retribution against people who film on-duty police officers with smartphones or other devices. But he added that the measure ensures that residents couldn't circumvent current law and distract from an officer’s duties.

 

Jail officials across Texas are worried that state budget cuts to community-based mental health care services will mean more mentally ill inmates in their facilities.
Jail officials across Texas are worried that state budget cuts to community-based mental health care services will mean more mentally ill inmates in their facilities.

Police Want Power to Take Weapons From Mentally Ill

Texas Weekly

The mental health code doesn't give police the right to take a gun from someone who is having a mental health crisis. After hearing from stakeholders across Texas, mental health advocates, judges and law enforcement officials are urging state lawmakers to overhaul the nearly 30-year-old mental health code to address gaps like that one.

Report Supports Calls for Prison System Oversight Board

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has released a report calling on lawmakers to approve several bills that would increase supervision over the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state’s prisons and has not been subject to measures like prison inspections since 2002.

Trouble in Mind: The Andre Thomas Story

This six-part series explores the intersections of the mental health and criminal justice systems in Texas, examining the case of Andre Thomas, a death row inmate who as a boy began exhibiting signs of mental illness, committed a brutal triple murder in 2004 and has since pulled out both of his eyes. Thomas awaits a court decision on whether he is sane enough for execution.

The Cleveland Corrections Center, located 50 miles northeast of Houston, is a private prison operated by the GEO group under the authority of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The Cleveland Corrections Center, located 50 miles northeast of Houston, is a private prison operated by the GEO group under the authority of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Prison Employee Union Calls for Pay Raise

A union representing Texas prison employees is calling on the Legislature to consider a pay raise for correctional officers, citing a rise in drilling jobs that can be more lucrative than prison jobs.

Andre Thomas: Mental Health, Criminal Justice Collide

The case of mentally ill death row inmate Andre Thomas offers a lens through which to examine the effects of a long underfunded mental health system. As the now-blind 29-year-old awaits a court decision on his execution, the case also raises important questions about how Texas punishes the mentally ill. 

Updated Interactive: Payouts to Exonerated Prisoners

Texas has paid 89 exonerees nearly $61 million since 1992, according to data from the Texas comptroller's office, and the cost of wrongful imprisonments continues to rise. Use this interactive to see how much money the state has paid to exonerated prisoners by fiscal year, and to compare their years incarcerated to their compensation.

Morgan Crocker delivers a business proposal for a fitness training service during the weekly session of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program at the Cleveland Correctional Center in Cleveland, Texas.
Morgan Crocker delivers a business proposal for a fitness training service during the weekly session of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program at the Cleveland Correctional Center in Cleveland, Texas.

Inmates Bank on Business Program for a New Start

Through a program operated by a nonprofit, some Texas inmates who will soon be released get a chance to learn business skills and work on plans to start their own businesses. Members of the business community have praised the program, saying successful former inmates become consumers and taxpayers. 

An inmate returns tests to his peers during a break from class. Inmates are regularly tested as a part of their academic business curriculum, part of which is modeled on Harvard MBA classes.
An inmate returns tests to his peers during a break from class. Inmates are regularly tested as a part of their academic business curriculum, part of which is modeled on Harvard MBA classes.

Slideshow: Turning Prisoners into Entrepreneurs

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program at the Cleveland Correctional Center trains selected inmates, who will soon be released, to design their own businesses. Here's a series of photographs from a recent class.

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.