Criminal justice

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Thevenot on the abysmally low community college graduation rate and higher ed's coming budgetary winter. Ramshaw on Terri Hodge's guilty plea and hasty exit. Grissom on the Department of Public Safety's use of dreaded federal stimulus funds to plug a hole in the state's border security budget. Hu on the first of the intraparty face-offs in our Primary Color series. Ramsey and Stiles on the congressional candidates with the most money on hand. Ramsey on whether Farouk Shami's accent and name are an obstacle to his election. Aguilar on the fever-tick epidemic overwhelming South Texas. Rapoport on TxDOT's hard road and the State Board of Education's lack of finance expertise. Philpott on how Barack Obama's budget will impact Texas. M. Smith on whether lawyers giving to judges is a good thing. Hamilton on the latest transportation innovations on the drawing board. The best of our best from February 1 to 5, 2010.

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Odor in the Court

Even if 84 percent of Americans believe judges should not hear cases from major campaign contributors, the big Texas law firms that have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to them over the last ten years see nothing wrong with business as usual.

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Jacob Villanueva

On the Records: Donations App Updated

We've added a few new features to our campaign donations app, including the ability to filter the search results by the donation amount, year and donor type. 

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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

The death penalty and DNA testing in a 16-year-old triple murder in the Texas Panhandle. The second debate between the three Republican candidates for governor. Charter schools are having a hard time hanging on to the employees that matter the most: Teachers. The possibilities and perils of a switch to electronic medical records. A rundown of top races. Who's giving to candidates, and how much? Social networks and politicians. Ballots: The slow reveal. And a new and highly requested feature makes its debut. The best of our best from January 23 to 29, 2010.

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I interviewed Henry "Hank" Watkins Skinner, 47, at the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice — death row — on January 20, 2010. Skinner was convicted in 1995 of murdering his girlfriends and her two sons; the state has scheduled his execution for February 24. Skinner has always maintained that he's innocent and for 15 year has asked the state to release DNA evidence that he says will prove he was not the killer.

Case Open: The Investigation

It took a crew of eight Northwestern University students to bring national attention to questions about Hank Skinner's death sentence. But his legal pleas for more DNA testing of crime scene evidence — and his lawsuit against the Gray County district attorney — have gone nowhere. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, he'll be executed on Feburary 24.

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Hank Skinner interview

I interviewed Henry "Hank" Watkins Skinner, 47, at the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice — death row — on January 20, 2010. Skinner was convicted in 1995 of murdering his girlfriends and her two sons; the state has scheduled his execution for February 24. Skinner has always maintained that he's innocent and for 15 year has asked the state to release DNA evidence that he says will prove he was not the killer. Full Story 

TribBlog: Family Values in Jail

Local elected officials and civil rights groups urged legislators at a committee hearing today to implement more programs for women and girls in Texas prisons and jails.

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Caleb Bryant MIller

Case Open

Hank Skinner is set to be executed for a 1993 murder he's always maintained he didn't commit. He wants the state to test whether his DNA matches evidence found at the scene, but prosecutors say the time to contest his conviction has come and gone. He has less than a month to change their minds.

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Guest Column: The 2010 Agenda: Open Government

Compared with other states, Texas alternates between merely OK and downright bad in rankings of how transparently government bodies conduct open meetings and respond to requests for public information. But we can fix that.

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On the Records: Per-Capita Money Maps

The governor's race candidates fill their campaign coffers disproportionately from some rural areas, according to a per-capita calculation. Each Dallas resident gave $1 to the race in 2009, for example, while those in Blanco donated $57.

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TribBlog: Abbott launches trafficking task force

Twenty percent of the nation's 17,000 human trafficking victims each year come through Texas, and Attorney General Greg Abbott said today the state should take the lead in collaboration among agencies to fight the scourge of modern-day slavery.

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Jacob Villanueva

Abuse of Power

State employees who commit heinous acts against Texas' most profoundly disabled citizens rarely get charged with crimes, let alone go to jail. A Texas Tribune review of a decade’s worth of abuse and neglect firings at state institutions found that just 16 percent of the most violent or negligent employees were ever charged with crimes.

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