Criminal justice

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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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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 Brandi Grissom, Caleb Bryant Miller, Jacob Villanueva

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.

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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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Twenty Who Gave Plenty

Houston homebuilder Bob Perry tops the list of the biggest donors to Texas candidates in the last half of 2009. McAllen developer Alonzo Cantu and Dallas businessman Ross Perot Sr. also gave large sums.

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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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 Bob Daemmerich

What Does Debra Want?

Now that she'll join Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison on stage at the second GOP debate — now that she's cracked spoiler-worthy double digits in the latest poll and will fundraise, Ron Paul-style, through an online "money bomb" — it's fair to ask what longshot gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina is in it for.

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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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 Matt Stiles

Mapping the Money Race

To better understand the geography of the money race, we mapped the candidates' contributions by city, using graduated symbols to highlight their most lucrative areas. The bubbles in the maps get larger based on the percentage of a candidates' total take.

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Guest Column: The 2010 Agenda: Criminal Justice

In response to shrinking budgets, there's a risk that lawmakers might feel compelled to scale back funding for treatment and diversion programming. Instead, it's time for the state to seriously consider closing one or more of the 112 prison units it currently operates.

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 Jacob Villanueva

TribBlog: Hi(gh) Again

A recent juvenile justice report finds drug-addicted TYC inmates who didn't participate in the agency's drug treatment program were less likely to reoffend than those who did.

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