Criminal justice

Mexico's Drug War Spills Over

Lawmakers from both sides of the US/Mexico border were in Mexico City this week working on plans to combat growing border drug violence. Violence that has grabbed headlines in Texas in recent days. KUT’s Ben Philpott reports on the plans to curb border violence.

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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Grissom on the 1.2 million Texans who've lost their licenses under the Driver Responsibility Act and the impenetrable black box that is the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Ramshaw and Kraft on nurses with substance abuse problems and rehabilitation that can get them back to work, M. Smith finds it's not easy being Rick Green, Stiles on counting Texans (and everybody else), Rapoport on the State Board of Education's war with itself and the runoff in SBOE District 10, Thevenot's revealing interview with a big-city superintendent on closing bad schools, Aguilar on the tensions over water on the Texas-Mexico border, Hamilton on the new Coffee Party, Hu on Kesha Rogers and why her party doesn't want her, Philpott on the runoff in HD-47, Ramsey on Bill White and the politics of taxes, and E. Smith's conversation with Game Change authors Mark Halperin and John Heleimann: The best of our best from March 15 to 19.

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 Caleb Bryant Miller

The Secret Pardon

Barring the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is Hank Skinner’s last hope for reprieve from the poison-filled syringe he is set to meet on Wednesday. The board makes life-or-death decisions, recommending to the governor whether an execution should be delayed, called off or carried out, yet it’s one of the least transparent agencies in state government.

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Can Rick Green Be Stopped?

Ever since his narrow March 2 win set off a collective grumble from the legal establishment, there’s been a movement afoot to shore up support for his runoff opponent. Now the fruits of those efforts have ripened. 

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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Thevenot on the non-stop wonder that is the State Board of Education and its latest efforts to set curriculum standards, E. Smith's post-election sit-down interview with Bill White at TribLive made some news and got the November pugilism started, Ramshaw on whether it makes sense for the state to call patients and remind them to take their pills, and on the state's botched attempt to save baby blood samples for medical research, Hamilton's interview with Steve Murdock on the state's demographic destiny, M. Smith on whooping cranes, fresh water, and an effort to use the endangered species act to protect them both, Grissom on potties, pickups, and other equipment purchased with federal homeland security money and Stiles' latest data and map on where that money went, Aguilar on the "voluntary fasting" protesting conditions and treatment at an immigrant detention facility, Kreighbaum on football, the new sport at UTSA, and Philpott on Rick Perry and Bill White retooling their appeals for the general election. The best of our best from March 8 to 12, 2010.

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 Caleb Bryant MIller

TribBlog: Skinner Asks Perry for Reprieve

Lawyers for death row inmate Hank Skinner sent Gov. Rick Perry a letter yesterday asking him for a 30-day reprieve from Skinner's scheduled March 24 execution. The lawyers also asked Perry to order DNA testing on evidence that Skinner says could prove his innocence.

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Data App: Homeland $ecurity

Loving County, in far West Texas, spent about $1,100 per resident in U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant funds from 2003 to 2008. Compare that with Harris County, which spent less than $6 per resident. Contemplate the disparity — and search for individual purchases with DHS grant money — using our latest data application.

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 Caleb Bryant Miller

Starving for Reform

For two months, inmates in a South Texas immigrant detention facility have been on a staggered hunger strike — what the government calls “voluntary fasting" — to protest alleged abuse, lack of medical care and near-nil access to legal resources.

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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Our obsessive-compulsive election day and next day coverage: frenetically updated county-by-county maps and up-to-the-minute returns in every race on the ballot, Hu's awesome crowdsourced liveblog, Ramshaw on the twenty surprise outcomes, Aguilar on recount possibilities and dead incumbents, M. Smith on how judicial races turned out, Rapoport on changes at the SBOE and who was elected before the first vote was cast, Thevenot on whether the GOP has a problem with Hispanics, Hamilton on how the Tea Party fared, Grissom and Ramshaw on the legislative and congressional mop-up, Ramsey on what happens now, Stiles on how much candidates spent per vote; and my post-primary debrief with Rick Perry's pollster and George W. Bush's former strategist. The best of our best from March 1 to 5, 2010.

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 Jacob Villanueva

Data App: How Much Votes Cost

Was Farouk Shami, in fact, "on fire"? The Democratic gubernatorial candidate burned through campaign cash, spending $135 for every vote he received in Tuesday's primary on the way to getting trounced by Bill White — more than any other candidate on the ballot, and by far the most of any losing candidate. By contrast, Democratic land commissioner hopeful Bill Burton spent only 2 cents per vote in a narrow loss to Hector Uribe, who spent only 7 cents per vote himself. All told, candidates spent, on average, about $14 per vote. Explore each campaign's bang for the buck in our latest data application.

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The Supremes

As the last numbers crept in late Tuesday night, there were no surprises in the contested races for the seats on the state’s highest civil court. Voters will return to the polls again in April to see who will take over Harriet O’Neill’s old spot, and Rose Vela didn’t manage an upset against recent appointee Eva Guzman.

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Sup. Ct. 3: Green on Top, but Runoff Certain

As of early Wednesday morning, Rick Green has barely broken from the crowd of six GOP candidates vying for the open spot on the High Court, and a runoff is guaranteed. What's unclear is who his opponent will be — Rebecca Simmons, Jim Moseley, and Debra Lehrmann are all hovering close behind. It's likely Jeff Brown, who narrowly trails those three, won't make the cut. The only clear loser of the night is Rick Strange, who didn't keep up with the pack.

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