Johnathan Silver

Johnathan Silver reports on the state’s criminal justice system for The Texas Tribune. Prior to the Tribune, Johnathan was a Texas Associated Press Managing Editors Buster Haas intern and staff reporter at the Victoria Advocate. A Fort Worth native, Johnathan graduated from The University of Texas at Arlington with bachelor’s degrees in political science and criminal justice – and a graduation mug from The Shorthorn, the campus student newspaper.

Recent Contributions

Lawmakers, Courts Consider Ways to Help People Who Can't Afford Lawyers

Almost four percent of more than 300,000 civil cases filed in Texas courts in 2015 involved plaintiffs or petitioners who didn't have an attorney, according to the Texas Office of Court Administration.
Almost four percent of more than 300,000 civil cases filed in Texas courts in 2015 involved plaintiffs or petitioners who didn't have an attorney, according to the Texas Office of Court Administration.

Every year, thousands of Texans who can't afford to hire attorneys take a go at handling their own civil cases. Ahead of the next legislative session, lawmakers and legal service providers are looking for ways to make the process easier. 

Keep Preteens Out of Juvenile System, Texas House Panel Told

Lauren Rose, director of Youth Justice Policy with Texans Care for Children, addresses the House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee in Dallas, Texas on September 7, 2016.
Lauren Rose, director of Youth Justice Policy with Texans Care for Children, addresses the House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee in Dallas, Texas on September 7, 2016.

Already facing calls to limit when teenagers are treated as adults in the criminal justice system, Texas lawmakers next year may also see legislation trying to keep preteens from being shunted into the juvenile justice system.

From Michael Morton's Wrongful Conviction to Exoneration (Timeline)

Michael Morton was released on a personal bond in October 2011 after spending nearly 25 years in prison for murdering his wife. DNA evidence ruled him out as Christine Morton's killer.
Michael Morton was released on a personal bond in October 2011 after spending nearly 25 years in prison for murdering his wife. DNA evidence ruled him out as Christine Morton's killer.

In the 30 years since Christine Morton was murdered, her husband Michael Morton has been wrongfully convicted of killing her and fought for sweeping changes to state law. Look back at his case and the developments since his release. 

How Michael Morton’s Wrongful Conviction Has Brought Others Justice

Michael Morton stands for his February 1987 mugshot (left) and a portrait 25 years later, taken at the Williamson County Courthouse on Feb. 6, 2013.
Michael Morton stands for his February 1987 mugshot (left) and a portrait 25 years later, taken at the Williamson County Courthouse on Feb. 6, 2013.

Thirty years ago, a Williamson County murder set in motion a shoddy prosecution that led to the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton. It's a miscarriage in justice that's still felt in the state's criminal cases.

 

Prison System Ponders $250 Million in Budget Cuts

Texas Department of Criminal Justice Central Prison Unit in Sugar Land, TX. Amid budget cuts, Texas is closing a prison unit for the first time. The historic Central Unit will close at the end of August.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Central Prison Unit in Sugar Land, TX. Amid budget cuts, Texas is closing a prison unit for the first time. The historic Central Unit will close at the end of August.

With the 2017 state budget dance approaching, the Texas prison system is following instructions to cut 4 percent from its spending. Will that mean closing prisons and releasing more nonviolent inmates?