Criminal justice

 Bob Daemmrich, Jacob Villanueva

Data App: Texas Population Estimates

Texas now has about 24.8 million residents, an increase of 3.9 million, or almost 20 percent, since 2000, and trails only California in the proportion of its residents who identify themselves as Hispanic. We're also the third-youngest state, with a median age of 33; only Utah and Alabama have younger populations. These and other fun facts can be discovered in a new database application that helps explain and visualize how the makeup of Texas counties has changed since the last U.S. Census.

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A Conversation with Craig Watkins

For the 11th event in our TribLive series, I interviewed the Dallas County district attorney about why and how he's worked to exonerate the wrongfully imprisoned and whether he's dragging his feet on a controversial corruption case involving county constables.

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Fewer Sex Offenders in the DPS Database?

There are more than 61,000 registered sex offenders in the Texas Department of Public Safety’s database. Some think the list includes people who aren’t a threat to society and that the stigma of being on it hurts them more than it helps the greater community. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune has this report.

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 Caleb Bryant MIller

TribBlog: Skinner Jurors Call for DNA Testing

Seven of the jurors who sent Hank Skinner to death row for the murders of his girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two sons now say they want the state to test all the DNA available in the case.

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 Caleb Bryant Miller

TribBlog: Watkins Plays Self-Defense

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, under fire at home for his handling of an investigation into Democratic county constables, played defense before an Austin crowd this morning in a TribLive interview with the Tribune's Evan Smith.

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 Jacob Villanueva

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Ramshaw on geriatric care in state prisons, with Miller's photo essay inside those walls; M. Smith interviews the state's newest Supreme Court justice, Debra Lehrmann; Aguilar finds fewer Mexicans seeking asylum in the U.S; Galbraith sorts out the politics of pollution and whether our air is dangerous to breathe; Thevenot discovers authorities writing tickets for misbehavior to elementary school kids; Philpott reports on early hearing about political redistricting; Kreighbaum examines fines levied against polluters and finds they're often smaller than the economic benefits of the infractions; and Stiles and Babalola spotlight some of our data projects from our first seven months online: The best of our best from May 31 to June 4, 2010.

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The Brief: June 4, 2010

Physician-owned hospitals, which provide some of the best health care in the nation but have been in danger since health insurance reform passed, are taking their case to court.

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 Spencer Selvidge

Debra Lehrmann: The TT Interview

The Texas Supreme Court justice-to-be (she'll take retiree Harriet O'Neill's seat on June 21) talks about about judicial elections, the recent ethics complaint filed against her and what happens when she disagrees with the law.

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 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

Defenseless

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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