Criminal justice

Caleb Bryant Miller

Dying on the State's Dime

Texas’ “geriatric” inmates (55 and older) make up just 7.3 percent of Texas’ 160,000-offender prison population, but they account for nearly a third of the system’s hospital costs. Prison doctors routinely offer up the oldest and sickest of them for medical parole, a way to get those who are too incapacitated to be a public threat and have just months to live out of medical beds that Texas’ quickly aging prison population needs. They’ve recommended parole for 4,000 such inmates within the last decade. But the state parole board has only agreed in a quarter of these cases, leaving the others to die in prison — and on the state’s dime.

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The Brief: June 2, 2010

The Fort Hood shooter made his first courtroom appearance Tuesday, but a trial, the military court decided, won't happen until October.

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Graphic by Matt Stiles, Jacob Villanueva

Memorial Data

Since our November launch, we've published more than 30 web applications made from government records, including the most comprehensive public payroll database in the state, an interactive database with all 160,000 inmates serving time in the 100-plus state prison units, rankings of more than 5,800 public schools, a comprehensive list of every red-light enforcement camera in Texas, and databases with state-level fundraising and spending for members of the Legislature and statewide elected officials. Readers have viewed these pages more than 2.3 million times — more than a third of the site's overall traffic.

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Graphic by Jacqueline Mermea

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Ramsey on what the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll says about the governor's race, education, immigration, and other issues; Grissom on a far West Texas county divided over Arizona's immigration law; Ramshaw talks health care reform and obesity in Texas with a legendary Dallas doctor; M. Smith on the Collin County community that's about to break ground on a $60 million high school football stadium; Aguilar on the backlog of cases in the federal immigration detention system; Philpott of the Green Party's plans to get back on the ballot; Hu on the latest in the Division of Workers' Comp contretemps; Mulvaney on the punishing process of getting compensated for time spent in jail when you didn't commit a crime; Hamilton on the fight over higher ed formula funding; and my sit-down with state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin: The best of our best from May 24-28, 2010.

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TribBlog: It's Lehrmann

Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Judge Debra Lehrmann to the Place 3 seat that Harriet O’Neill will soon vacate on the Texas Supreme Court. Lehrmann, a Fort Worth District Court judge, won the Republican nomination for that seat in a runoff against former state Rep. Rick Green, R-Dripping Springs.

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Caleb Bryant Miller

Justice Delayed

Death row inmate Hank Skinner bought himself some time Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to address whether he can bring a federal civil rights lawsuit instead of making a habeas corpus claim. But legal experts say he's unlikely to escape his ultimate punishment.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

The Price of Innocence

Let's say you served time for a crime you didn't commit: How much is each year you lost really worth? A new law increases the state's payout to exonerees, but the process of getting compensated is its own form of punishment.

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Graphic by Task Force on Indigent Defense


Before adopting the Fair Defense Act in 2001, Texas was considered abysmal in legal circles when it came to providing representation for the poor. Proponents and critics of the current system agree the situation has improved since lawmakers started requiring counties to implement minimum representation standards. But has it improved enough?

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Caleb Bryant Miller, iStockphoto

The War at Home

For many of the more than 150,000 Texans who have returned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the struggle to cope with the horrors they've seen can result in drug addiction and violent outbursts. To deal with those harsh realities, 10 counties are working to establish "veterans courts" that would emphasize treatment or counseling over punishment.

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Caleb Bryant Miller, Jacob Villanueva

On the Records: Paycheck U.

Today we're adding another 17 agencies to our government salaries database, an extra 67,000 workers who collectively earn $2.9 billion in public payroll. The database now has records on more than 550,000 employees working at 62 of the largest state agencies, cities, universities, counties and mass-transit authorities.

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Google Maps

On the Records: The Capitol in 3-D

The next legislative session is more than eight months away, but that doesn't mean you can't explore the Capitol grounds — from your desk — thanks to Google Maps.

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TribBlog: Senators Get Social

With more and more state employees and elected officials using websites like Facebook and Twitter the onslaught of social media use within governmental bodies brings with it a lot of questions.

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Texas A&M University

On the Records: Come and Take Our Data

Records in the Texas Tribune's data library are licensed under Creative Commons, which means you're free to download them, remix them and republish them — so long as you comply with our simple terms.

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Texas Supreme Court

TribBlog: O'Neill Signs Off

Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill, who isn't seeking reelection to the court, also isn't finishing her term. She told Gov. Rick Perry and the other members of the court today that she will step down from the bench on June 20.

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Comptroller's Office

On the Records: Combs' Open Data Center

Susan Combs' new includes an Open Data Center, where anyone can download dozens of raw data sets, much like the federal government's

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David Oshinsky: The TT Interview

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author and University of Texas professor, whose latest book is a modern history of capital punishment in America, says he doesn't oppose the death penalty — but he believes it's scandalously implemented in Texas.

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