is The Texas Tribune's managing editor and joined the staff when the online publication launched in 2009. In addition to editing duties, Grissom leads the Tribune's coverage of criminal justice issues. During her tenure at the Tribune, she was chosen as a 2012 City University of New York Center on Media, Crime and Justice/H.F. Guggenheim Journalism Fellow and was a fellow at the 2012 Journalist Law School at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Grissom, along with Tribune multimedia producer Justin Dehn, received a 2012 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting for work on the case of Megan Winfrey, who was acquitted of murder in February 2013 after the Trib’s coverage brought statewide attention the case. Grissom joined the Tribune after four years at the El Paso Times, where she acted as a one-woman Capitol bureau. Grissom won the Associated Press Managing Editors First-Place Award in 2007 for using the Freedom of Information Act to report stories on a variety of government programs and entities, and the ACLU of Texas named her legislative reporter of the year in 2007 for her immigration reporting. She previously served as managing editor at The Daily Texan and has worked for the Alliance Times-Herald, the Taylor Daily Press, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung and The Associated Press. A native of Alliance, Neb., she has a degree in history from the University of Texas.
Lawmakers, bureaucrats and criminal justice advocates all agree that the state’s trouble-ridden Texas Youth Commission ought to close down two of its correctional facilities. Like other state agencies, TYC has been asked to cut its budget for the next biennium by 10 percent, or $40 million. But no one at TYC is saying which lockups should get shuttered. “They don’t want to bite that bullet and show leadership,” says state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.
A decade after Hispanic farmers in Texas and other states sued the USDA, alleging discrimination in the awarding of loans and other federal benefits to minorities, the government has tendered a settlement offer. The plaintiffs think it's laughable.
The U.S. Border Patrol is restarting its controversial Alien Transfer and Exit Program, in which illegal border-crossers caught in Arizona are transported to Texas and deported to Mexico. Texas officials say the plan makes as little sense to them now as it did last year.
Harris County District Judge Kevin Fine is set to hold a hearing Monday in the case of John Edward Green, who is charged with fatally shooting a Houston woman during a robbery in June 2008. Green’s attorneys and capital punishment opponents want Fine to find that prosecutors can’t seek the death penalty because the way we administer it in Texas is unconstitutional. “The current system is profoundly and fundamentally flawed from top to bottom,” says Andrea Keilen, executive director of the Texas Defender Service. Prosecutors counter that the ruling should be made by higher courts, not a trial judge.
When country music icon Willie Nelson got arrested for marijuana possession last week, he wasn’t the only Texas legend who figured in the story. Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West, who put Willie in the local pokey, is a reigning symbol of the years-long fight over border security and immigration.
Marc Levin, director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, talks with the Texas Tribune about how the upcoming state budget crunch will affect criminal justice.
The director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation on the criminal justice challenges lawmakers will face next session (and how they can get the greatest return for each dollar spent), why eliminating prisons could be the most cost-effective way to improve safety and why creating new criminal offenses is the wrong thing to do.
Deaths from accidental overdoses increased in Texas by more than 150 percent from 1999 to 2007, according to a recent report from the Drug Policy Alliance. Accidental poisoning during that time was the third-leading cause of injury-related deaths statewide, behind only car crashes and suicide.
Troopers on the Texas-Mexico border reported more high-speed chases than officers in any other region of the state. The Texas Tribune and the San Antonio Express-News analyzed data from nearly 5,000 DPS pursuit reports from January 2005 through July 2010. Of the 10 counties with the most chases, five were counties along the Texas-Mexico border. In this video, DPS Trooper Johnny Hernandez in Hidalgo County talks about why officers on the border see more pursuits than their colleagues across the state.
by Brandi Grissom and John Tedesco, San Antonio Express-News
Troopers on the border are involved in far more high-speed chases than officers in any other region of the state, according to an analysis of nearly 5,000 Department of Public Safety pursuit reports by The Texas Tribune and the San Antonio Express-News. Nearly 13 percent of the chases (656) happened in Hidalgo County. Of the 10 counties with the most chases, five were counties along the border. The analysis also reveals that troopers use aggressive pursuit tactics — including firing guns and setting up roadblocks — that many other law enforcement agencies prohibit.
More than 280 inmates in county jails died from illnesses while in custody over a four-and-a-half-year period, according to data provided by the Texas attorney general and analyzed by The Texas Tribune. Many died of heart conditions, some of cancer or liver and kidney problems and others of afflictions ranging from AIDS to seizure disorders and pneumonia. There are no state standards for health care in county jails, but criminal justice advocates and correctional facility experts say the large number of illness-related deaths prove they're needed.
Rick Perry won his third full term as governor of Texas on Tuesday, defeating former Houston Mayor Bill White by a convincing double-digit margin and positioning himself for a role on the national stage. And he led a Republican army that swept all statewide offices for the fourth election in a row, took out three Democratic U.S. congressmen and was on its way to a nearly two-thirds majority in the Texas House — a mark the GOP hasn't seen since the days following the Civil War.
Marvin Brown is a convicted sex offender who was released from jail in 1999. Today, he's ill and elderly, suffering from diabetes, stage-four renal disease and congestive heart failure. He's had three mini-strokes in the last two months alone. On good days, he walks with a cane. Other times, he gets around with a walker or an electric wheelchair. But according to Gov. Rick Perry, he poses such a threat to society that he has to wear an ankle bracelet so he can be continuously monitored. Brown says that's a violation of his civil rights, and on Tuesday he filed suit in federal court. "They can't give you freedom and then take it away," he says.
The political editor of the respected and influential Rothenberg Political Report on how Washington insiders view the Texas governor's race, who's at risk in the state's congressional battles, what redistricting could mean for the major parties and why Republicans are likely to be happy campers one week from today.