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 ...

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.

State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.
State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.

House Departures Take a Bite Out of Criminal Justice

Texas Weekly

For years they’ve been the Butch and Sundance of Texas criminal justice policy. Republican state Rep. Jerry Madden and Democrat state Sen. John Whitmire have helped lead a sea change in the adult and juvenile prison systems. But the team is breaking up. Madden, chairman of the House Corrections Committee, is retiring after 10 terms.

Michael Morton stands in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys, John Raley of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, and Nina Morrison of the New York-based Innocence Project. Morton was officially exonerated Dec. 19, 2011 after spending nearly 25 years in prison for his wife's murder.
Michael Morton stands in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys, John Raley of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, and Nina Morrison of the New York-based Innocence Project. Morton was officially exonerated Dec. 19, 2011 after spending nearly 25 years in prison for his wife's murder.

Texas Among Top 3 States in Total Exonerations

Researchers at two law schools Monday released an unprecedented listing of all the exoneration cases from the last 23 years. Only two states had more exonerations than Texas, according to the report. We have a graph breaking down the exoneration cases in Texas by types of crimes, and we have a list of all the Texas exonerees.

Interactive: Texas Budget Cuts Shrink State Government

With the state government tightening its belt, there are now 10,200 fewer state employees, according to an analysis of data collected by the state auditor’s office. This interactive shows how budget cuts have affected employment at state-funded entities from the second quarter of fiscal year 2011 to the second quarter of fiscal 2012.

Top Criminal Court to Hear Hank Skinner's DNA Plea

The latest installment in death row inmate Hank Skinner's decade-long quest for DNA testing comes today as his lawyers argue to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that a change in state law should allow the tests he hopes will prove he is innocent. State lawyers argue that Skinner had his chance at DNA testing and is just trying to delay the inevitable.

Dr. George Denkowski conducted psychological exams for more than a dozen current death row inmates. 1) Anthony Pierce 2) Virgilio Maldonado 3) Calvin Hunter 4) John Matamoros 5) Derrick Charles 6) Kim Ly Lim 7) Coy Wesbrook 8) Joel Escobedo 9) Jamie McCoskey 10) Warren Rivers 11) Tomas Gallo 12) Steven Butler 13) Alfred Brown
Dr. George Denkowski conducted psychological exams for more than a dozen current death row inmates. 1) Anthony Pierce 2) Virgilio Maldonado 3) Calvin Hunter 4) John Matamoros 5) Derrick Charles 6) Kim Ly Lim 7) Coy Wesbrook 8) Joel Escobedo 9) Jamie McCoskey 10) Warren Rivers 11) Tomas Gallo 12) Steven Butler 13) Alfred Brown

Appeals Court Orders Re-evaluation of Death Row Case

The state's highest criminal court on Wednesday ordered a lower court to review a death penalty case that involved a psychologist reprimanded last year for using unscientific methods to determine that defendants were intellectually competent enough to face capital punishment. 

Off Death Row, Kerry Max Cook Still Seeks True Freedom

Kerry Max Cook was released from death row in 1997 but has never officially been declared innocent of the 1977 murder of Linda Jo Edwards. He hopes to change that with new court filings. Michael Hall of Texas Monthly reports on Cook's complex case and the challenges he faces in trying to move on with his life.