Christopher Connelly | KERA News

Christopher Connelly

Fort Worth Reporter

Christopher Connelly is a KERA reporter based in Fort Worth. He specializes in politics and criminal justice, and his reporting is regularly picked up by national shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace.

Christopher’s a supremely versatile reporter. He profiled Opal Lee, the 89-year-old who walked many miles between Fort Worth and Washington, D.C., to make her pitch for a national Juneteenth holiday. He got a rare look inside William “Tex” Moncrief’s home while reporting on a remembrance for powerhouse lawyer Dee Kelly. A story about a reclusive state Board of Education candidate in East Texas who’d called then-President Obama a gay prostitute earned Christopher a Lone Star Award from the Houston Press Club.

His coverage of policing after five Dallas officers were gunned down on July 7, 2016 was key to KERA winning “overall excellence” honors among the biggest radio stations, public and commercial, in Texas and Oklahoma in the regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Last year, Christopher deployed to Houston to cover the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. He heard harrowing stories of evacuees and the first slow, heart-breaking steps of a family beginning to recover.

Christopher came to Texas from WYPR in Baltimore, where he was state legislative reporter. He also dodged tear-gas canisters (and lost a microphone) while covering the the unrest after the death of Freddie Gray, an African-American who died while in police custody.

He cut his public-radio teeth as a Joan B. Kroc Fellow at NPR – that’s a prestigious one-year post-graduate fellowship that allowed him to train as a reporter, show producer and digital producer at network HQ in Washington, D.C.

Christopher is a graduate of Antioch College in Ohio, and he earned a master’s in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. He was born in Ohio, but his Texas roots run deep: He spent summers visiting family in Fort Worth.

Ways to Connect

Aaron Jacobs / distributed under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.5 license

Denton County voters may find themselves voting in new districts for members of the county commissioners court next year. The Denton County Commissioners Court is planning to redraw their districts this summer. Commissioners say it’s an effort to make sure their precincts are equal in this fast-growing county, but critics of the plan says it’s being rushed unnecessarily and will have a discriminatory effect.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The emergency room at Tarrant County’s public hospital faced its own emergency last week. Patients swamped John Peter Smith hospital’s emergency department in Fort Worth following the Memorial Day holiday.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

With the ouster of Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald last week, attention is turning to what the city should look for in its next police chief.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Deputy Chief Ed Kraus was sworn in as Fort Worth's new interim police chief Tuesday. He’ll lead the department until a replacement can be found for outgoing Chief Joel Fitzgerald, who was fired by city hall last week.

Lauren Johnson speaks at a rally for legislation to address the issues affecting women in the criminal justice system.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Texas incarcerates more women than any other state. The number of women in Texas prisons has ballooned since 1980, growing by nearly 1,000% – twice the rate of men. 

A TEXRail train waits at Fort Worth's T & P Station.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

TEXRail got off to a bit of a rocky start, delayed by the federal government shutdown. But four months after the train began running between central Fort Worth and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, riders say they’re happy with the service.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Four years after Sandra Bland died in a Waller County jail, her name is still reverberating in the Texas legislature.

For the eight-and-a-half years she spent in prison, Kristan Kerr looked forward to one thing every month: a visit from her daughter, Chloe. Visit by visit, she watched Chloe grow from a toddler to nearly a teenager.

"I just watched her grow all the way up," Kerr says. "One visit, she couldn't read, and then the next visit she was reading something to me."

Convicted for aggravated robbery in 2011 – she was the driver — Kerr says she wasn't making good choices back then, and it meant missing out on a lot.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price has won a fifth term in office and is on her way to becoming the longest-serving mayor in city history. 

Incumbent Betsy Price (right) won the Fort Worth mayoral race with 56% of votes against challenger Deborah Peoples (left).
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The Dallas mayor’s race is heading to a runoff after no one was able to get a majority of the votes, while the Fort Worth mayor won re-election.

Fort Worth mayoral candidate Deborah Peoples and incumbent Betsy Price
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price is facing her toughest election fight since she won the office in 2011.

Price is running as a steady hand to steer the fast-growing city into the future. Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples says she’s the change agent that residents far from the city’s halls of power need to make Fort Worth work for them.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Nearly two weeks after publishing a letter to the residents of Dallas County outlining a broad reform agenda, newly minted District Attorney John Creuzot is still dealing with criticism over a petty theft policy. Despite the attention, though, Creuzot's approach to theft is unlikely to be his most impactful reform. 

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

If a poor person steals food or diapers or other essential items that they need but can’t afford to pay for, should they be prosecuted? Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot says no.

Allison V. Smith / KERA News Special Contributor

In a letter addressed “to the people of Dallas County,” District Attorney John Creuzot on Thursday laid out nearly a dozen broad changes in the prosecutor’s office for Texas’ second largest county, calling the reforms “a step forward in ending mass incarceration.”

Family members of workers inside CVE Technology in Allen, Texas, took concerned phone calls, sent worried texts and waited for updates throughout the afternoon while ICE conducted raid operations.
Anthony Cave / KERA News

Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday arrested 284 employees at a technology repair company in a Dallas suburb on charges of working in the United States illegally. Officials say it's the largest worksite raid in the country in 10 years.

Michelle R. Smith / AP

The 2020 census is still a year away but the nationwide head count is already on the minds of lawmakers in Austin. There are big political and policy implications for states in the once-a-decade headcount, so there's an incentive in Austin and other state capitols to help ensure that every Texan is counted.

Ashley Franks lives with her son, Cashton, at the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

When Ashley Franks got pregnant with her son, her grandfather kicked her out of the house. She didn’t know where to go. So she lived out of her car throughout the pregnancy.

“Daily life [when living in the car] is trying to find a place to take a shower, make sure that your hygiene is kept up, make sure that your vehicle is running properly, because that’s all you have,” Franks says.

Sherizon Scott, her two-year-old son Hezekiah, and four-year-old daughter Zuri spent six months in a homeless shelter in 2017 before Scott found an affordable place to live.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Sherizon Scott says her life is on the right track, but it’s been a struggle to get there. 

For years, Scott and her husband teetered on the edge of financial instability. They could take care of their growing family’s needs on their own, but only so long as everything went right, she says.

Thorne Anderson for KERA

Lawmakers in Austin who oversee the state’s sprawling prison system are concerned about state jails. These middle-tier facilities, which are for low-level felons with crimes related to underlying issues, were set up with the idea that they’d provide an array of rehabilitative services that would prevent future crime.

Bail bondsmen are opposing state legislation that would overhaul Texas' bail laws.
ROY LUCK / FLICKR

Most people in Texas jails are legally innocent. They’ve been arrested but are awaiting trial. They haven’t been convicted of a crime.

Advocates across the political spectrum say that’s because whether a defendant is stuck in jail before trial depends way too much on how wealthy they happen to be, and lawmakers have introduced bills to overhaul the state’s bail laws.

LoneStarMike via Wikimedia

When Mia Greer went to prison, she says she wasn’t the only one who was punished. Her kids suffered too.

“They started failing in school, my son started lashing out,” Greer, a registered nurse from Austin, told lawmakers on the House Corrections committee on Thursday.

If the compromise had failed, state lawmakers in Austin would have had to step in to fix the fund.
Shutterstock

After years of work to solve its pension problems, Fort Worth will make changes to shore up the Fort Worth Employees Retirement Fund. City workers, voting over the past few weeks, gave their approval to a series of changes aimed at keeping the fund solvent.

Shutterstock

With the legislature at work in Austin, constituencies of all kinds are working to make their wants and needs clear. The Texas Municipal Police Association’s executive editor, Kevin Lawrence, says his wish list focused less on what he wants from lawmakers, but what he hopes they won’t do.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

An urban farm is growing on the banks of the Trinity River in Fort Worth. Opal’s Farm is named for 92-year-old Opal Lee, a retired educator and longtime community advocate who has for years nurtured the vision of a farm to feed Fort Worth’s food deserts.

via flickr user Drriss & Marrionn

Members of the Dallas City Council’s public safety committee on Wednesday heard a proposal from the police department to strengthen a board charged with reviewing the way the department handles allegations of officer misconduct and misbehavior. For more than a year, community activist groups have been working with the Dallas police chief and board members give the Dallas Citizens Police Review Board more teeth to fulfill its oversight role.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht hears a case on Nov. 2, 2015, in Austin, Texas.
Associated Press

The top judge on the Texas Supreme Court gave lawmakers a big wish list during his State of the Judiciary speech in Austin today. Chief Justice Nathan Hecht’s list includes some new spending, some savings and fundamentally rethinking business-as-usual in Texas courts.

Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Downtown Dallas
Shutterstock

Across Texas, Catholic dioceses are releasing lists of priests and laity suspected of sexual abuse since 1950. It's being done with the goal of restoring trust to a Catholic Church that has been rocked for years, in Texas and around the world, by allegations of sexual misconduct and cover-ups.


Christopher Connelly / KERA News

A Fort Worth police officer is getting his job back after being fired for ordering excessive force against an unarmed woman who’d called 911 for help. 

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Texas ranks second in the nation for human trafficking cases, and Texas Sen. John Cornyn was in Dallas Tuesday to highlight a new federal law he co-wrote to provide resources and funding to fight traffickers and support victims. It’s called the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, though Cornyn acknowledges there’s still a lot of work to be done to end what he calls “modern-day slavery.”

Under the Texas Capitol dome in the Rotunda.
State of Texas

Texas lawmakers are expected to look at a range of criminal justice issues during the 2019 legislative session. Criminal justice reforms have been a bipartisan bright spot for a decade in Austin, as conservative and liberal lawmakers have sought to reduce the number of people behind bars, increase public safety and cut costs.

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