Texas Department of Criminal Justice | KERA News

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Tears often filled the eyes of the women in this Texas prison town as they prepared for their upcoming release from the system after years or even decades of incarceration.

The women sometimes wiped them away as they recalled trauma and grief they’d long ignored in a harsh prison environment. But their eyes also welled up when they expressed gratitude for a new program they hope will keep them from ever coming back to this or any other lockup.

Jolie McCullough / The Texas Tribune

Days after a federal judge threatened to jail Texas prison officials for violating a settlement agreement to put some inmates in air conditioned housing, the top Texas Department of Criminal Justice leader admitted in open court that the agency broke federal orders and that keeping inmates in temperatures above 100 degrees creates a serious health risk.

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. 

From Texas Standard:

On Tuesday, a new Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy went into effect, banning any religious adviser from being in the execution chamber with an inmate. The decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court, last week, postponed the execution of Patrick Murphy, a member of the Texas Seven group.

The court said his execution had to wait until Texas decided on its policy about the presence of spiritual advisers during executions. The state had originally denied Murphy’s request to have a Buddhist priest, which Murphy appealed because Texas had allowed advisers from other faiths to be in the execution chamber. In his opinion, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that Texas needed to find a way to accommodate all faiths so as not to discriminate, or allow no advisers at all. TDCJ decided on the latter.

Advocates Say Timing Is Right For Independent Oversight Of Texas Prisons

Nov 26, 2018
The Gurney Unit prison operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Tennessee Colony, Texas.
Martin do Nascimento for The Texas Tribune

After a recent slew of damning headlines regarding conditions within Texas prisons, reform advocates and lawmakers are hopeful that the timing is right to get legislation passed creating independent oversight of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Jolie McCullough / The Texas Tribune

As temperatures soared over 100 degrees in most of the state this week, ongoing concerns over the safety of inmates and guards in Texas prisons — almost 75 percent of which do not have air conditioning in housing areas — have resurfaced.

Incarcerated women in Texas have access to fewer educational and vocational programs compared to incarcerated men, a new study finds.

The study, released Tuesday by the local nonprofit Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, is the second of a two-part study that looks into the increasing numbers of incarcerated women.

Jolie McCullough / The Texas Tribune

ROSHARON — Just 30 miles south of the urban epicenter of Houston, the scene around one of Texas’ oldest maximum-security prisons has a much more rustic quality.

FDA Officially Bans Texas' Attempted Import Of Execution Drugs

Apr 20, 2017
The Texas Tribune

Almost two years after Texas tried to import an execution drug from overseas, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled Thursday that the drug can’t be admitted into the United States.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Texas Death Row Inmate

Mar 28, 2017
TDCJ/Abby Livingston / The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Texas death row inmate Tuesday, sending his case back to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and invalidating the state's current method of determining if a death-sentenced inmate is intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for execution. Texas' method relies on decades-old medical standards and a controversial set of factors.

Report Finds Almost 7,000 In-Custody Deaths In Texas

Jul 28, 2016
txking / Shutterstock.com

Almost 7,000 individuals in Texas have died while in police custody or behind bars over the past 10 years, according to an online report released Wednesday by a University of Texas at Austin research institute.

New Death Sentences In Texas Drop To 40-Year Low

Dec 16, 2015
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas juries imposed only two new death sentences in 2015, the fewest since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide almost 40 years ago, according to a national report released Wednesday.

Texas Inmate Beard Policy Will Not Cost Taxpayers Extra

Aug 11, 2015
Sean Hobson / Texas Tribune

Taxpayers will not have to bear the costs of a new beard policy for inmates after all.

Tom Michael/Marfa Public Radio

Ten people killed in the crash of a prison bus in West Texas include eight prisoners and two guards.