Tribpedia: Texas Department Of Criminal Justice

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is the state agency responsible for managing state prisons and jails and the oversight of more than 150,000 offenders. The agency also supervises offenders released from prison on parole.

The board is composed of nine members who are appointed by the governor to staggered, six-year terms. The governor also designates one member as ...

Despite Demand, Halfway Houses Struggle to Provide Care

At the Hand Up, a halfway house in Houston, former inmates have more freedom to look for jobs than at state-chartered facilities, but few can afford the rent.
At the Hand Up, a halfway house in Houston, former inmates have more freedom to look for jobs than at state-chartered facilities, but few can afford the rent.

A small fraction of the tens of thousands of inmates released in Texas each year find spots in state-contracted halfway houses. For many inmates, the private market is not an easy option either.

Correctional officer Mike Warren walks with his contraband detector dog, Gus, during a demonstration of how the dog seeks out cellphones around the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.
Correctional officer Mike Warren walks with his contraband detector dog, Gus, during a demonstration of how the dog seeks out cellphones around the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

In Cellphone Contraband Cases, Few Face Charges

While confiscations of illicit cellphones in prisons have dropped, a Tribune investigation found that few inmates or correctional officers face legal consequences for smuggling the devices.

Major Michael Gruver in recreation area of Clements Unit (r) and a Guard tower near front gate of Clements Unit, Texas Department of Corrections (l).
Major Michael Gruver in recreation area of Clements Unit (r) and a Guard tower near front gate of Clements Unit, Texas Department of Corrections (l).

Perry: Anti-Prison Rape Standards "Impossible"

Gov. Rick Perry told federal officials he would not sign a form complying with regulations meant to prevent prison rape and assault. Prison reform advocates worry the decision could have financial and legal consequences.

An inmate practices meditation during a yoga session at the Powledge prison unit in Palestine on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.
An inmate practices meditation during a yoga session at the Powledge prison unit in Palestine on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

If the Sun Salutation Has to Fit Into a Cell

An Austin lawyer turned yogi hopes to make yoga commonplace behind bars in Texas. But financial and administrative challenges lie ahead. 

Anthony Ormsbee places flowers with other volunteers at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas Monday Nov. 4, 2013 where a group placed roses on the more than 3000 headstones for All Souls Day.
Anthony Ormsbee places flowers with other volunteers at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas Monday Nov. 4, 2013 where a group placed roses on the more than 3000 headstones for All Souls Day.

For Prisoners and Families, Burials With Dignity

Prisoner rights advocates often criticize the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, but experts agree that offender burials are one thing the state prison system does well, especially compared with other states. 

Major Michael Gruver in recreation area of Clements Unit (r) and a Guard tower near front gate of Clements Unit, Texas Department of Corrections (l).
Major Michael Gruver in recreation area of Clements Unit (r) and a Guard tower near front gate of Clements Unit, Texas Department of Corrections (l).

Violence Behind Bars: A Tie to Mental Illness

A Tribune analysis of violent-incident data in state prisons shows that far more violent incidents occur at facilities with large populations of mentally ill inmates. 

Interactive: Psychiatric Prisons See More Violence

Data from the Texas criminal justice system shows that psychiatric prison units experience the most violence per capita. Use this interactive to examine the violent incidents reported at more than 90 Texas prisons between 2006 and 2012

Male detainees work to fix a cell door inside of the Dawson State Jail in Dallas on Jul. 31, 2013.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice decided not to renew its contract with the Corrections Corporation of America for the Dawson State Jail after the state legislature struck 97 million dollars from its funding.  The unit will begin relocating its offenders on Aug. 1, 2013, and expects to have all offenders relocated by the end of the month.
Male detainees work to fix a cell door inside of the Dawson State Jail in Dallas on Jul. 31, 2013. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice decided not to renew its contract with the Corrections Corporation of America for the Dawson State Jail after the state legislature struck 97 million dollars from its funding. The unit will begin relocating its offenders on Aug. 1, 2013, and expects to have all offenders relocated by the end of the month.

In Two Cities, Opposite Reactions to State Jail Closing

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The decision by legislators this year to close two privately run jails operated by the Corrections Corporation of America is being met with very different reactions in the communities where the jails are situated.

Scottie Louis Forcey, 21, photographed at the Barry B. Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas on July 2, 2013. Forcey is serving a life sentence without parole for a murder committed when he was 16.
Scottie Louis Forcey, 21, photographed at the Barry B. Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas on July 2, 2013. Forcey is serving a life sentence without parole for a murder committed when he was 16.

Young Murderers Await Legislature's Punishment Decision

Scottie Forcey is one of 23 convicted Texas murderers who could get the chance to be parole eligible after serving 40 years in prison as legislators work to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.
This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.

Visualization: Executions on Perry's Watch

Wednesday's execution of Kimberly McCarthy for the 1997 stabbing death of her neighbor will mark Texas' 500th execution since 1976 and the 261st during Gov. Rick Perry's tenure. Use our interactive to view information on each execution under Perry.