Posts filtered by tags: Gritsforbreakfast[x]


 

Murders in Texas increased 37% statewide in 2020, with Republican-led communities suffering the biggest spikes. But overdose deaths doubled murders. Are we focused on the wrong problems?

Much attention has been given to the nationwide murder spike, but Texans were more than twice as likely to die from a drug overdose in 2020 than to be murdered. And like murders, overdose deaths saw a big increase during the pandemic. "More than 4,000 Texans died of drug overdoses in the year ending Nov. 30, 2020 – a 33% increase compared to the previous year," reported Libby Seline at the Houston Chronicle.By contrast, DPS reported 1,403 homicides statewide in 2019, and 1,927 in 2020. While tha...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, EMS, Abbott, DPS, Lubbock, MSM, Manley, Texas Tribune, Gritsforbreakfast, Seline, Libby Seline


Arguments for Republican bail bill become nonsensical when debating rural jails

I've gotta say, 2021 has been dispiriting on many levels, not the least of which is the partisanship injected into criminal-justice topics turning once-rational individuals into liars and/or idiots. Over the last week, Just Liberty has been walking around to rural members - almost all Republicans, since the Dems are in Washington, D.C. - discussing the effects of the Governor's bail bill (HB2/SB6/HJR1) on rural jails. (See Grits' testimony to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on the t...
Tags: Texas, Law, Washington, Houston, Joan Huffman, Gritsforbreakfast, House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Andy Kahan, HB1, Shelby Slawson


Rural counties hurt worst by politicizing bail policy: My testimony against Texas' bail bill

Today your correspondent testified against HB 2 - the Governor's bill attacking judicial discretion in bail setting - in the House Select Constitutional Violations and Remedies Committee, but in 3 minutes couldn't get through it all. So lets post my (mostly prepared) remarks here. _______________ Good morning Mr. Chair, Madame Vice Chair, and esteemed committee members,  The bill before you as written is bad for Texas. This is true for many reasons, some of which will or have been raised...
Tags: Texas, Law, Louisiana, Houston, Fort Worth, Houston Chronicle, Harris County, Lubbock, Chronicle, Gritsforbreakfast, Andy Kahan


Abbott vetoes demonstrate continued antipathy toward #cjreform, bootlicking toward police unions

My better half, Kathy Mitchell, posted this on Facebook about Gov. Abbott's criminal-justice vetoes, and since I hadn't written anything on the subject yet, with her permission I'm re-posting it here. For a more sanguine perspective on what Grits has called the worst Texas legislative session on criminal justice in the 21st century, see Marc Levin's column in the SA Express News summarizing everything that passed which reformers might consider a (small) victory. Rep. Pacheco's HB 385 may be the ...
Tags: Facebook, Texas, Law, Senate, House, Abbott, Capitol, Kathy, Kathy Mitchell, Pacheco, Dan Patrick, Marc Levin, Gritsforbreakfast, Ray Hunt, Terra Tucker, Alliance for Safety


Travis County jail expansion makes no sense, so of course they might do it anyway

For many years, combating unnecessary jail expansion around the state was a central focus of this blog. But over time, the jail building boom relented and this blog roamed in other directions. So I'm surprised to find myself drug back into the debate on my home turf, with politicians I've known for years leading the charge to build new jail space Travis County doesn't need. I'd hoped we were past this.The issue is construction of a new women's jail, a proposal originating in the county's 2016 st...
Tags: Texas, Law, Ann Richards, Ann Howard, Travis County, Andy Brown, Gritsforbreakfast


Expungements for old weapons charges under Texas' new unlicensed-carry law could be widespread, but likely initially limited

Much have been made of the public-safety implications of Texas passing unlicensed-open-carry legislation (HB 1927) in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Odessa, and Sutherland Springs. But little attention has been paid to a provision in the bill allowing expunctions for past convictions for unlicensed carrying of a weapon (UCW, Penal Code 49.02). Rep. Senfronia Thompson added the amendment in the House, Charles Schwertner stripped it off in the Senate, then a narrower version was adopted in...
Tags: Texas, Law, Senate, Gritsforbreakfast, Senfronia Thompson, Charles Schwertner, Civil Rights Corps, Sutherland Springs, UCW, El Paso Odessa


New TX homeless ban creates unfunded mandates for cities: Costs downplayed during #txlege process but cities must foot bill to store homeless belongings and can't limit arrests to ↓ costs

A Joint Memo From the Unintended Consequences and Unfunded Mandates Departments: Now that the Texas Legislature has passed HB 1925 criminalizing homelessness (or more specifically, criminalizing cooking or sleeping under a blanket outside), cities must figure out how to implement the new law, which restricts their ability to limit arrests through policy. Here's the catch: The statute requires police who arrest homeless people under this statute to take custody of their belongings and store ...
Tags: Law, Austin, Abbott, Texas Legislature, Gritsforbreakfast, Innocence Project of Texas


Fascism Unsheathed: Let's be very clear about what just happened at the #txlege

For many years, your correspondent has sought to work in a bipartisan fashion at the Texas Legislature on criminal-justice reform, and I've taken a lot of crap from folks on the left for working closely with Republicans who are sometimes, shall we say, less than ardently committed to the project.  Beyond the simple math of needing Republican votes in a red state to pass bills, my response has been that more moderate, pro-social elements in the GOP needed to be affirmed and bolstered. The GOP b...
Tags: Texas, Law, Gop, Stephen A Smith, Fort Worth, Weimar Republic, Abbott, Trump, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, Texas Legislature, Texas House, Joan Huffman, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement


On the Myth of Prison Closures Generating Cost Savings: How TDCJ can ↓ prisoners by 20% and still see costs rise nine figures per biennium

From the earliest days your correspondent first showed up at the Texas Legislature, I've been grumpy about how they score "fiscal notes" related to bills increasing incarceration. Dr. Tony Fabelo and I used to go round about this when he led the Criminal Justice Policy Council.Bills that increase incarceration are deemed to have no significant cost, even though every additional prisoner requires supervision, food, healthcare, etc.. And bills that decrease incarceration weren't deemed to generate...
Tags: Texas, Law, Medicare, Texas Legislature, Texas House, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, LWOP, Tony Fabelo, Criminal Justice Policy Council Bills


Might "anti-defund" legislation demilitarize and redefine 21st century policing? On the predictable if unintended consequences of micromanaging city budget decisions

Grits has been thinking about "defund the police" legislation (HB 1900) at the Texas Legislature, which seeks to punish Austin's budget decisions from last year shifting money from police to EMS and making the crime lab and 911 call center independent. The bill would punish cities that reduce police budgets unless the overall budget reduces by the same proportion. If the overall budget increases, the police budget must increase to retain its prior, overall percentage of spending. In other words,...
Tags: UK, Texas, Law, Austin, EMS, Abbott, Legislature, Sun Tzu, Texas Legislature, Gritsforbreakfast


Austin PD failed to define 'resistance' that justifies use of force, made up 'unique' category of force vs. suspects who're 'fixing to' resist

In 2008, Austin PD changed its "use of force" policy to  a "response to resistance" policy, enacting a "Dynamic Resistance Response Model" (DRRM) developed by national experts with the aim of "helping officers to prevail against allegations of excessive use of force," according to a new report from Austin's Office of Police Oversight.But unlike other agencies that use a "response to resistance" model, the Austin Police Department's General Orders do not define "resistance," much less outline wha...
Tags: Texas, Law, US, Austin, Graham, Apd, US supreme court, Austin Police Department, OPO, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin PD, Farah Muscadin, Muscadin, Austin s Office of Police, Connor Grits


A #cjreform update for 'The Devil's Dictionary'

"The Devil's Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce remains one of my all-time favorite satirical works. But it's become increasingly dated over time, centered as it was on political questions of his day (1880 to 1911) as opposed to those which preoccupy us now. Your correspondent focuses mostly on criminal-justice reform, and it's evident upon even a sideways glance that terminology from that field largely escaped Bierce's comic gaze. He did refer to prisons as the purview of the "stone wall, the poli...
Tags: Law, Texas House, Gritsforbreakfast, Ambrose Bierce, Bierce


Five Observations and a Prediction: Why police budget hikes could become a thing of the past in Texas if HB 1900 becomes law

In no particular order, here are five observations and a prediction about a week filled with losses for the Texas criminal-justice reform movement at the Texas Legislature and in San Antonio and Austin. #1: Policy fights now head to the courts Every policy fight can and frequently does play out in an array of venues and the legislative process is only one of them. Some of the legislative losses this week are on topics - more restrictive detention policies from bail reform, limiting prosecutor di...
Tags: Texas, Law, California, Austin, House, Bill, Houston, San Antonio, Irl, City Hall, Legislature, Texas Legislature, Texas House, Gritsforbreakfast, Imperial Senate, West Austin


Academy relaunch premature until Austin PD eschews hazing culture

The Austin City Council today will consider relaunching its police academy after it was shuttered amidst allegations of cadet hazing and a "culture of violence." We've now seen numerous unflattering assessments of the academy, but none more damning than the report from Kroll and Associates. They found the academy uses a "predominantly paramilitary model," has been "reluctant to incorporate a lot of community/civilian input," and remains "distrustful of non-police personnel."Notably, a majority o...
Tags: Gritsforbreakfast


The #TexasGeorgeFloydAct: What component bills are still moving in the #txlege homestretch?

Over the weekend, your correspondent put together an update on the status of all the various bills that make up the Texas George Floyd Act for the 65-group coalition promoting them, so let's re-post it here for Grits readers who may be interested. There are four weeks to go in the legislative session, so all these bills are in the make-or-break home stretch.The Texas George Floyd Act, as distinct from federal legislation by the same name, fundamentally has eight component parts. These have also ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Senate, House, Houston, Texas Legislature, Texas House, Gritsforbreakfast, Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, Gerald Goines, George Floyd


Unions fighting police reforms up at #txlege on Thursday

Three bills scheduled for votes on Thursday on the floor of the Texas House are all stand-alone parts of the Texas George Floyd Act: HBs 829, HB 830, and HB 834, and all by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson.HB 829 requires civil-service cities to create a disciplinary matrix to keep arbitrators from overturning punishment so often.HB 830 forbids arrests for Class C violations of the Transportation Code.HB 834 requires corroboration for police officer testimony to secure a drug conviction.For the mos...
Tags: Texas, Law, House, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Thompson, Legislature, Texas House, Gritsforbreakfast, Senfronia Thompson, Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, CLEAT


With chances for TCOLE Sunset legislation withering, bill heard to expand agency's authority to kick bad cops out of the profession

Your correspondent is beginning to despair that the 87th Texas Legislature may come and go without meaningful reform a the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, the state's police-and-jailer-licensing agency.The TCOLE Sunset bill - which drew attention because of an especially harsh critique by Sunset staff calling it a broken system that's failing to achieve its mission - is now languishing with others in House Calendars and appears likely to be pushed off for two years. Instead the Calendars Co...
Tags: Texas, Law, Police, Senate, House, Sunset, Rodriguez, Texas Commission, KXAN TV, Gritsforbreakfast, Calendars Committee, TCOLE, 87th Texas Legislature, Senate Administration Committee


Assessing status of police-reform bills as #txlege reaches inflection point

The Texas Tribune published a story in the wake of the Derek Chauvin verdict interviewing families of police brutality victims pushing for the Texas George Floyd Act. While that omnibus legislation appears stalled, as we've discussed in two recent, special podcast episodes, it has also been broken up into a number of different bills, some of which are still wending their way through the process. We're now at an inflection point in the Texas legislative process: Bills that are out of committee ...
Tags: Utah, Texas, Law, Colorado, Senate, House, Dallas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Thompson, Legislature, Texas Tribune, Texas Commission, Ed Thompson, Gritsforbreakfast, Criminal Jurisprudence Committee


Deeply rooted problems at Austin's police academy justified one-year recruitment delay

So much misinformation has been cast about so frequently regarding the City of Austin's budget and supposedly "defunding the police" that many political actors involved appear to have come to believe their own bullshit. Legislation purporting to punish cities that reduce police budgets, including HB 1900 by Goldman, are sitting in Calendars and could pop out at any time.In the Texas Senate, Democrats cratered; all but 2 voted in favor of "anti-defund" legislation. So the idea has so far sailed t...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Houston, City Council, Goldman, Apd, Legislature, Texas Senate, Department of Public Safety, Equity Office, Kroll, Gritsforbreakfast, Spencer Cronk, Greater Austin Crime Commission, George Floyd


Sheriff's deputy resigned amidst child molestation charges, murdered three people this weekend, but still technically eligible to work in Texas law enforcement

In many other states, former Travis County Sheriff's Deputy Stephen Broderick would have lost his peace officer's license last year. He was allowed to resign in lieu of being fired amidst child molestation allegations, but like so many others before him, he remained eligible under Texas law to be hired at one of Texas' 2,500+ other law enforcement agencies.He probably would have, too, if he hadn't allegedly murdered three people in Austin this weekend then gone on the lam. (UPDATE: He has since ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, House, Broderick, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Stephen Broderick, TCOLE, Sunset Advisory Commission


#txlege bill eliminating Class-C arrests for traffic offenses moving forward with bipartisan support

The death of Daunte Wright traffic enforcement by police back in the spotlight, raising the profile of the issue just as HB 830 (Thompson) passed out of committee at the Texas Legislature this week. Next week will be dominated by debate over the budget, but HB 830 could hit the House floor as early as the week after.The committee substitute to the bill would ban arrests for Class C traffic violations in Texas, but not other Class Cs. Looking at recent cases, the bill would affect Dillon Puente i...
Tags: Florida, Texas, Law, House, Republican Party, Thompson, Keller, Plano, Sandra, Texas Legislature, Gritsforbreakfast, Philando Castile, Dillon Puente, Rodney Reese, Daunte Wright, Jordan Blair Woods


Austin PD won't disavow 'paramilitary' culture in its academy; Dallas cops caught using unauthorized facial recognition tech; police reform in Houston hits a dead end; and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention while mine is focused elsewhere. Consultant: Austin PD still embraces 'paramilitary' culture Austin's police academy retains a "predominantly paramilitary model," consultants Kroll and Associates found, and their training staff lacks diversity. "For the most part, Kroll has found APD reluctant to incorporate a lot of community/civilian input and distrustful of non-police personnel." Changes so far sound largely cosmetic: "there is ...
Tags: Texas, Maryland, Law, Austin, New Jersey, Dallas, New Mexico, Houston, Gizmodo, Apd, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Tarrant County, Lone Star State, Gutierrez, River Oaks


Abstract 'sweet spot' imagined on bail reform probably doesn't exist

Your correspondent has mostly stayed out of bail debates this year at the Texas Legislature for two simple reasons: 1) There are many opportunities for criminal-justice reform legislation that Grits believes have a real chance to pass, and 2) IMO there don't exist any opportunities for bail reform in the 87th Texas Legislature that reform-minded advocates will find acceptable or which will stand the test of time once federal courts finally address the issue.There are three centers of gravity in ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Federal Judges, Bail, Abbott, Murr, 5th Circuit, Texas Legislature, Imo, Gritsforbreakfast, Pretrial Detention, Sen Huffman, Andy Kahan, Ron Reynolds, 87th Texas Legislature


Ridding South Texas of DPS part of forgotten populist agenda for the region

Many Democrats were surprised in November when their candidates lost ground in Texas border regions, but Grits was not: The party has no substantive agenda either to entice voters in rural areas or to address the unique challenges facing the sprawling mass of increasingly urban voters in the Rio Grande Valley.Here's a topic state candidates could run on: From the Rio Grande Guardian, "Heavy DPS Presence in Starr County is Unnecessary." Starr County Judge Eloy Vera articulated populist criticisms...
Tags: Texas, Law, Economics, Terrorism, Houston, Border Patrol, Valley, DPS, Rio Grande Valley, Rio Grande, South Texas, Vera, McConaughey, Darling, Border Security, Gritsforbreakfast


Two decades after Tulia, corroboration requirement for police in drug cases may finally have its day

Debates around the Texas George Floyd Act have revived discussions of accountability in drug enforcement that first arose two decades ago following the Tulia drug stings. Regular readers know George Floyd was one of scores of Houstonians convicted of drug possession based on the uncorroborated testimony of Houston Police Narcotics Officer Gerald Goines, whose mendacious testimony about fabricated informants resulted in the deadly Harding Street raid.Goines' case - and the audit of the HPD narcot...
Tags: Texas, Law, Police, Drug Policy, Houston, Rikers Island, Thompson, Amarillo, Jeff, Mandy, Texas Legislature, Legal Aid Society, Jeff Blackburn, Harding Street, Gritsforbreakfast, Goines


Yes, Mr. Schaefer, police violence is a problem, even in Tyler

Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), who represents my hometown, said at the Homeland Security and Pubic Safety Committee hearing the other day that there'd been no serious police violence incidents in his district in many years. Maybe he meant police shootings or deadly force. But a couple of folks in the audience grumbled that somebody should tell that to the 15-year old kid thrown to the pavement by a Bullard police officer last fall. Here's video from the incident: The kid was 15 and had tried t...
Tags: Texas, Law, Police, Austin, Tyler, Schaefer, Smith County, Bullard, Gritsforbreakfast, Senfronia Thompson, Matt Schaefer R Tyler, Homeland Security and Pubic Safety Committee


A dirty, uncomfortable feeling: TCOLE Sunset bill lame, inadequate, and kicks can down the road on the biggest police accountability issues

After staff at the Texas Sunset Commission issued a of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, the legislation enacting their vision couldn't be more disappointing. The bill passed out of committee as filed this week with no changes.It would create a blue-ribbon commission to evaluate all the biggest questions, even though Sunset staff already identified the problems. See Grits' write-up of Sunset staff's concerns for more detail, but big picture, Sunset staff said "Texas' Approach to Regulat...
Tags: Texas, Law, America, New Jersey, Sunset, Legislature, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Kim Vickers, TCOLE, Texas Approach, Texas Sunset Commission, Vicki Goodwin, Sandra Bland Data


Tarrant medical examiner who led Forensic Science Commission found to have misled jury in murder case

After an initial, failed run led by a tough-on-crime prosecutor, Texas' Forensic Science Commission has oddly been led by medical examiners, even though the agency doesn't regulate that profession and their offices are separate from forensic analysis divisions in most counties. One of these was Tarrant County medical examiner Nizam Peerwani, so Grits was interested to see this news:A man who was sentenced to death in a 2004 Fort Worth murder case should get a new trial because of false and misle...
Tags: Texas, Law, FSC, Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Krouse, Gritsforbreakfast, Forensic Errors, Forensic Science Commission, Texas Forensic Science Commission, Tarrant County Medical Examiner, Medical Examiners, Nizam Peerwani, Tarrant County District Court, Mollee Westfall


Podcast: When is slavery profitable? Texas' "Law of Parties," why traffic enforcement doesn't make us safer, and breaking down the #TexasGeorgeFloydAct

Here's the April 2021 episode of Just Liberty's Reasonably Suspicious podcast. co-hosted by me and Mandy Marzullo. This is Part Two of our special on the Texas George Floyd Act (here's part one). Listen to it here: We started with a discussion of the hearing on the Texas George Floyd Act and then broke down aspects of the bill we didn't get to in Part One:Qualified Immunity, featuring interviews with Arif Panju and Keith Neely from the Institute for Justice (4:50)Corroboration in Drug Cases, f...
Tags: Texas, Law, Institute for Justice, Mandy, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Jeff Blackburn, Gritsforbreakfast, Innocence Project of Texas, Mandy Marzullo, Keith Neely, Arif Panju


Texas radically reduced traffic enforcement with no noticeable impact on road safety

What's the relationship between traffic enforcement by police and roadway safety? Arguably not much. Over the last decade, the number of traffic cases brought by Texas cops has plummeted, according to the Office of Court Administration's 2020 Annual Statistical Report: Over the same period, though, roadway deaths per hundred-million miles first rose and then declined to pre-2010 levels, despite major population increases over this period coupled with radical reductions in police enforcement. F...
Tags: Texas, Law, US, Austin, Houston, Don, East Austin, TXDOT, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration, Lubbock New York Los Angeles