Posts filtered by tags: Gritsforbreakfast[x]


 

TX bail-reform momentum growing amidst supportive press

Source: SA Express-News In San Antonio, bail companies openly advertise to defendants that they should reject "personal bonds" and use bail bondsmen instead to avoid court fees, in-person check ins, and drug testing. That's pretty brash, for a group trying to convince the Texas Legislature that they're in the business of protecting public safety!Here are several items anyone tracking the Texas bail debate will want to have read:SA Express-News: Bexar's stunning embrace of cash bailAustin ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Texas Legislature, Bexar County, Travis County, Express News, Bexar, Jerry Valdez, Gritsforbreakfast, SA Express News, Larry Krasner, Mandy Marzullo, Janice Dotson Stephens, John Longoria


Houston PD will end most no-knock warrants after botched drug raid

"The no-knock warrants are going to go away like leaded gasoline in this city," declared Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo at a town hall meeting after police killed two people (along with two dogs) and four officers were shot while serving a search warrant, reported the Houston Chronicle.The chief said he no longer "sees the value" in such raids, which were criticized earlier this month in a Texas Monthly story. In the future, said Acevedo, HPD won't use the tactic in most instances, and in the ...
Tags: Law, Houston, Houston Chronicle, Texas Monthly, Texas Legislature, Acevedo, Gritsforbreakfast


Travis judges reject public defender, DA discretion the solution to budget constraints, crime deterrent from traffic stops minimal, and other stories

Here are a few browser clearing odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention: Travis County judges refuse state money for public defender office Travis County's bid to create a public-defender office isn't officially dead yet, but it may as well be after Presiding Judge Brenda Kennedy authored a letter saying local judges unanimously opposed the idea. Kennedy has urged judges not to speak for themselves and has thrown their support solidly behind the local criminal defense bar, which habitu...
Tags: Texas, Law, California, Virginia, Va, Nashville, Houston, Kennedy, Houston Chronicle, Harris County, Travis, George Powell, Texas Tribune, Texas Legislature, Acevedo, Travis County


Why we know so little about the bad cop at the center of the botched Houston drug raid

A couple of weeks ago, Grits raised numerous questions about a drug-raid-gone-bad in Houston that left four officers shot and two homeowners and two of their dogs dead. Police-union leadership blamed police-accountability activists for the episode, and the mayor and city council members backed them up.Now, it turns out the informant identified in the search warrant may not exist, and the narcotics officer in question has a lengthy disciplinary history, though much of it only documented in closed...
Tags: Texas, Maryland, Law, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston Chronicle, Brady, Legislature, Bryant, Sheriff s Office, Harris County, Texas Legislature, Bexar County, Court of Criminal Appeals


Austin's Chief Manley blames victims for misunderstanding his victim-blaming comments

Austin Police Chief Bryan Manley apologized if rape victims felt he had blamed them in his department's coverup surrounding inflated sexual-assault clearance rates, but insisted he had never done so. Here's what he said."If my comments made survivors of sexual assault in my community feel like we were victim-blaming, then I absolutely apologize," Manley said in the interview. "Sitting here today, absolutely, if there are survivors in my community that felt like we were in any way victim-blaming ...
Tags: Law, Austin, Houston, Apd, DPS, Manley, Austin Police, Texas DPS, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin PD, Art Acevedo, Bryan Manley


Blind amputee robbed bank to get healthcare, Austin DNA lab may have caused false convictions, reconsidering extreme sentences, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention while mine is focused elsewhere: DNA-mixture errors may have resulted in false convictions Travis County has identified eleven possible false convictions in which people were convicted based on DNA evidence that later was corrected to make an earlier match "inconclusive." The cases will move forward as habeas corpus writs challenging old convictions. Twelve more cases where at least one evidence-match was changed to "inconclusive" ...
Tags: Law, Colorado, California, Austin, Houston, Vox, American Bar Association, Aba, Texas Rangers, Harris County, Lopez, Lubbock, Travis County, Murray Newman, Gritsforbreakfast, Kim Ogg


Austin Police Chief is the last person who should be giving other chiefs advice on rape-clearance rate data!

Bizarrely, Austin Police Chief Bryan Manley is scheduled to speak to the Major Cities Police Chiefs' Association in Washington D.C. this week to share "hard lessons he's learned" about how police categorize sexual assault cases.He's not ready. Manley hasn't yet taken responsibility for what happened or been held accountable for his cynical strategy to blame rape victims for APD-management malfeasance. Until he does, he shouldn't be lecturing anybody on this topic. In fact, this might be a good w...
Tags: Law, Washington, Austin, Houston, Apd, Texas Department of Public Safety, DPS, Manley, Austin Police, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin PD, Art Acevedo, Donegan, Bryan Manley, Major Cities Police Chiefs Association, Liz Donegan


Re-evaluating SWAT, Corruption alleged in UT-Dallas policing courses, Was Dallas PD staffing shortage spoken into existence?, and other stories

Here are a few browser-clearing odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention: Corruption alleged in UT-Dallas policing courses For years, reported the Dallas Morning News, UT-Dallas allowed police officers to enroll for a course, skip all their classes, and walk away with As. Wow. How did anybody ever think this was okay? Growing critiques of routine use of SWAT tactics Check out Jessica Pishko's coverage of a dubious Austin SWAT raid. Notably, a study last year found that "Militarization f...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Dallas Observer, Baylor, San Antonio, HARRIS, Jessica Pishko, Harris County, Brinkley, Cooke County, UT Dallas, DPD, Gritsforbreakfast


Ignore Austin defense bar: Create Travis County public-defender office

Like petulant children, the Austin criminal defense bar pulled out of a working group created by Travis County to plan for creation of a public-defender office. I've uploaded their letter here.Continuing the whine-fest they began last fall, ACDLA complains that the county isn't properly considering whether to increase funding for their sorry, failed, embarrassing "managed-assigned counsel" system, in which the local criminal-defense bar was supposed to regulate itself. Feeling snubbed, they're t...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Travis County, Gritsforbreakfast, ACDLA, Travis County Commissioners Court


Hiring more Harris Co. prosecutors would harm the rest of the system

In Houston, liberal advocacy groups, including the Texas Organizing Project, the Texas Civil Rights Project, and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, are opposing Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg's request for 102 additional prosecutor slots. Ogg says the slots are needed to make dockets move quicker. But Grits would favor expanding the public-defender office by that much LONG before I'd support that many more ADAs. As it happens, an academic paper several years ago analyzed high prosec...
Tags: Law, Houston, Harris County, Harris Co, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Kim Ogg, OGG


Guerra-Thompson: Harris County bail compromise still discriminates against poor people

Sandra Guerra Thompson, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law School, is unimpressed with the proposed bail settlement in Harris County, saying it continues to discriminate against the poor. Grits received this email from her this morning and am reprinting it with her permission: I’ve spent much less time on the bail issue of late, but I have made some inquiries recently about the new Harris County policies.  Much to my chagrin, the county has tweaked the sy...
Tags: Law, Harris County, Gritsforbreakfast, Sandra Guerra Thompson, Criminal Justice Institute, Pretrial Justice Institute, University Of Houston Law School, Guerra Thompson


Texas bail-reform bill to be filed today, and other stories

Here are a few browser-clearing odds and ends to start your week: Bail-reform news and notes Bail reform legislation will be unveiled at the Texas capitol this afternoon. Right now, there is bail litigation only in three Texas counties, but change is needed everywhere. The New York Times analyzed a pretrial-release bail-alternative program in NYC that reduced the population of the jail on Rikers Island by 38 percent. Bail reform helps reduce incarceration not just in jails, but in prisons: A stu...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Arkansas, New York Times, Arizona, Oklahoma, Rikers Island, South Carolina, Amazon Web Services, Legislature, Waco, Texas Florida, Ellis County, Travis County, Travis County Texas


SA bail tragedy illustrates how misdemeanors can ruin lives

One of Grits' favorite thinkers on justice topics, Alexandra Natapoff, whose new book about the misdemeanor system, Punishment Without Crime, I hope to review in the coming week, had a column in the New York Post with a Texas anecdote in the lede. It began: Just before Christmas, Janice Dotson-Stephens died in a San Antonio jail. The 61-year-old grandmother had been arrested for trespassing, a class B misdemeanor in Texas. She couldn’t afford the $300 bail, and a mere $30 payment to a bail bonds...
Tags: New York Post, Texas, Law, US, America, Department Of Justice, San Antonio, Thompson, Sandra Bland, Harris County, Gritsforbreakfast, Senfronia Thompson, Alexandra Natapoff, Natapoff, Janice Dotson Stephens, Dotson Stephens


Eleven unanswered questions about the botched police raid in Houston

Four officers were shot and two suspects and their dog are dead after a botched narcotics raid in Houston. Friends and family of the deceased say they were innocent victims. Obviously, I hope all the officers recover. But having watched this play out in the press for several days, Grits has questions.Here's the background: According to the search warrant, police claimed they sent a confidential informant into the home who had assisted in 10 or more prior investigations, all of which had led to a...
Tags: Texas, Law, Navy, Fox, Houston, Houston Chronicle, Jacob Sullum, Acevedo, Gritsforbreakfast, Joe Gamaldi, Mightn, Harris County District Attorney s Office, Houston Friends


Reasons Texas county jails failed their state inspections

When I saw that an inmate recently hanged himself in the Waller County Jail - the same jail in which Sandra Bland died - on a hunch, I checked to see if Waller has failed its last jail inspection. It had. But that also made me notice the list of other jails currently out of compliance with Texas Commission on Jail Standards regulations. So I looked through all of them and made a few notes. Here are the highlights:In Waller County, jailers failed to check the detox cells in a timely fashion, misc...
Tags: Texas, Law, Sandra Bland, Houston Chronicle, Harris County, Liberty County, Shelby County, Victoria County, Waller, Waller County, Comanche County, Texas Commission, Fannin County, Limestone County, Robertson County, Waller County Jail


Considering long DPS license-center lines and ballooning prison-healthcare costs at House Appropriations

The Texas House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday will consider two items this blog has covered quite a bit heading into session: Long lines at DPS driver's license centers, and prison healthcare costs. For any staffers reviewing in preparation for the hearing, here's some background on those two topics: Reducing DPS License-Center Lines In the Texas Senate, the conversation centered almost entirely around how much money the Legislature should spend to expand license-center capacity. But they...
Tags: Texas, Law, House, Legislature, TX, DPS, Senate Finance, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Texas House Appropriations Committee, DPS License Center Lines In the Texas Senate, Limiting Prison Healthcare Costs Texas


Third party will review rape-clearance data that spurred ouster of Austin PD division chief

Last night, the Austin City Council voted to have a third party review years worth of cases to discover the extent to which the Police Department inflated clearance rates in sexual assault cases. the agency pressured the head of the sex crimes unit to declare more cases "exceptionally cleared," then removed her when she refused and began puffing up the numbers, anyway. Now we know she was in the right and APD brass was fudging data to misrepresent success rates to the city council and the public...
Tags: Law, Police, Austin, Sex Crimes, Apd, Austin City Council, Police Department, DPS, Manley, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin PD, Mandy Marzullo, Bryan Manley, Clearance Rates


Senate Finance debate ignores policy solutions to excessive DPS license-center lines

The Texas Senate Finance Committee this morning had a quite-animated discussion over long lines at DPS driver license offices. But nobody yet has raised the topic Grits considers the most significant in this debate: state-driver's-license-revocation policies contributing hundreds of thousands of extra people annually to DPS license-center lines. I'd written about these issues last fall.How the Driver Responsibility surcharge contributes to long lines at DPS license centersLong DPS lines making c...
Tags: Texas, Law, Republican Party, TX, DPS, Senate Finance, Gritsforbreakfast, DRP, Customer Service Center, Kirk Watson, Texas Senate Finance Committee, DPS Customer Service Center


Guard understaffing just one reason the #txlege must reduce inmate populations and close more state prisons

Budget hawks at the Texas Legislature should be taking a close look at the state prison system this year. Without significant policy changes to take some of the stress off of the agency and its employees, the system is on the verge of crisis along several axes.As the Texas Senate Finance Committee prepares to hear testimony today on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's budget request, the Houston Chronicle's Keri Blakinger reported over the weekend that understaffing at several rural priso...
Tags: Texas, Law, Senate, House, Kenedy, Houston Chronicle, Legislature, Texas Legislature, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Keri Blakinger, Wallace Pack, Texas Senate Finance Committee


County Judge blames #txlege for indigent defense costs, but local officials' choices are to blame

Having written yesterday about Texas counties portraying their core, criminal-justice responsibilities as "unfunded mandates," this morning Grits was treated to a column in the Dallas News by Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley. Cooke County is a mostly rural area hugging the Oklahoma border north of Denton; Gainesville is the county seat.After rightly complaining that the state's under-funded school-finance system, not county expenditures, were driving property-tax increases, Mr. Brinkley veers o...
Tags: Texas, Law, Dallas, Oklahoma, Denton, Gainesville, Legislature, Brinkley, Cooke County, Indigent Defense Commission, Gritsforbreakfast, Dallas News, Office of Court Administration, Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley Cooke County, Cooke County Jail


Counties promoting misinformation about indigent defense in anti-unfunded-mandate campaign

I'm sick of the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) trying to include indigent-defense costs in their list of unfunded mandates. They can't make the case honestly, and their attempts are diverting from their valid, more important critiques of the state finance system. Here's an example of the BS they're spreading among county judges about indigent-defense costs, from the Marshall Messenger, quoting Marion County Judge Leward LaFleur:For the most recent year, for instance, Marion County designate...
Tags: Texas, Law, Cps, Legislature, Marion County, TAC, Texas Legislature, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, LaFleur, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas Bar Journal, W D Henson, State of Texas, Texas Association of Counties TAC, Marshall Messenger, Leward LaFleur


Podcast: Taking a bite out of junk science, update on bail-reform litigation, and much more

The January episode of Just Liberty's Reasonably Suspicious podcast was delayed a bit by my co-host's enviable trip to Vietnam at the beginning of the year. But the results were worth the wait. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, GooglePlay, or SoundCloud, or listen to this month's episode here: We've got a good show this month, featuring a review of bail-reform litigation around the state and how it might influence legislation in Texas. We updated listeners on criminal-justice reform b...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Vietnam, Gritsforbreakfast, Court of Criminal Appeals Chaney, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Chaney


Randy Ranger misconduct, CCA says TX cops can locate your phone w/o a warrant, police union endorses lesser punishment for non-violent offenses, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers attention while I edit the January podcast and attend to other business. There's a lot going on! Litigation alleges randy Ranger misconduct Here's a remarkable story from attorney Ty Clevenger about Texas Rangers facing discipline, or not, for allegedly sleeping with homicide victims' surviving family members during an investigation. Yuck! I also had missed this item, on alleged "Corruption and cover-ups at the Texas Department of Public Safe...
Tags: Law, Washington Post, America, Dallas, Texas Rangers, Nyu, Texas Department of Public Safety, DPS, CCA, Texas Legislature, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Dallas News, Tarrant County Jail, Ty Clevenger


Texans incarcerated thousands of years over traffic-ticket debt

In 2018, according to Office of Court Administration data, 524,628 people satisfied Class C misdemeanor fines and fees through jail credit. By contrast, despite legislation passed in 2017 to make it easier for judges to waive fines and provide community service options, only 53,773 people had their fines waived for indigency in 2018, and 97,260 avoided fines with partial or full credit for community service. So more than three times as many people last year sat out their fines in jail compa...
Tags: Texas, Law, Federal Reserve, OCA, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration


TDCJ suicide record argues against state takeover of Harris County Jail

In a roundup post over the weekend, Grits pointed to an odd story emerging when "Sen. John Whitmire suggested the state should take over the Harris County Jail after its fifth suicide in two years. If the Texas Department of Criminal Justice did a better job, Grits might agree. Suicide attempts at TDCJ are quite high." Then, on cue, yesterday Keri Blakinger published a story in the Houston Chronicle titled, "Mother sues Texas prisons after 'egregious' failure to prevent son's suicide." So TDCJ ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Houston Chronicle, Keri, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Harris County Jail, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Sen John Whitmire, Keri Blakinger, Blakinger, Harris County Jail Why


Bail litigation updates across Texas, and other stories

A bit of personal news: After Just Liberty's Executive Director, Shakira Pumphrey, left to join the new Texas House Speaker's staff to work on criminal-justice policy, your correspondent was elevated to her old post on an interim basis. Many thanks to Shakira for all her hard work for Just Liberty over the last two years, and good luck at the new gig! Meanwhile, as Grits struggles to fulfill his new admin duties, here are a few odds and ends that merit readers' attention. New Harris judges propo...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Rangers, Shakira, Houston, Texas Rangers, Lasalle, Houston Chronicle, Legislature, DPS, Harris County, Harris Co, Galveston, Hanks, 5th Circuit


#txlege budget writers in denial on prisoner health care

In its Legislative Appropriations Request, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said its needs an additional $247 million in order to continue delivering inmate healthcare at current levels, and ideally would like tens of millions more to make salaries more competitive. In response, the initial Texas House budget authorized an additional $160 million, and the Senate budget cut medical care by $1.3 million, reported the Texas Tribune.The House clearly came up with the $160 million number beca...
Tags: Texas, Law, Senate, House, Legislature, Texas Tribune, Texas House, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Lege


Beto bitter over El Paso police-union fight: Here's why that's okay

Grits must admit, I thought a bit more highly of Beto O'Rourke after reading this feature from The Intercept detailing his fraught relationship with the police union in El Paso when he was on the City Council.Police unions have increasingly found themselves in conflict with progressive Democrats in cities across the country, and are notorious for defending even the worst officers on the force against charges of assault or murder. Chris Evans, O’Rourke’s spokesperson, said that when he relayed Th...
Tags: Texas, Law, Senate, Boston, Austin, Wisconsin, Scott Walker, Council, AFL, Sierra Club, BETO, El Paso, Chris Perkins, Ron, Rourke, Moore


Fixing longstanding criminal-justice problems in a black-ink budget year

Comptroller Glenn Hegar gave the Texas Legislature some good news with a black-ink budget projection for the coming biennium, suggesting they may have more than $9 billion more to spend than in 2017. Some of that will go for Hurricane Harvey costs (thought the Rainy Day fund should also contribute to that), some will get gobbled up with increased costs for entitlement programs, and any school finance fix will almost certainly consume the lion's share of the rest. But it's not inconceivable th...
Tags: Texas, Law, House, Legislature, DPS, RTA, Texas Legislature, LAR, Glenn Hegar, Legislative Budget Board, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Elsa Alcala, 85th Texas Legislature, Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Office of Capital


In praise of pretrial-detention algorithms, the 'failure to appear fallacy,' Louisiana ↓ technical revocations, and other stories

Several national items merit Grits readers' attention here during the calm before the 86th Texas Legislature storm. Debtors-prison reform: Economic populism and the justice system The New York Times this week published a lengthy, excellent feature on how criminal fines and fees oppress the poor. Good analysis and background. Best evidence supports use of risk assessments in pretrial release decisions Some prominent heavyweight corrections researchers responded to criticisms in the press, not to ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Philippines, Aclu, New York Times, Louisiana, Harris County, FTA, Texas Legislature, Gritsforbreakfast, 86th Texas Legislature, Jennifer Skeem, Skeem, Intermediate Sanctions Facilities, Louisiana The Bayou State