Crime & Justice http://kut.org en DFPS to Investigate If Sibling Drownings Were Result of Neglect http://kut.org/post/dfps-investigate-if-sibling-drownings-were-result-neglect <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">An investigation has begun into the deaths of a 4-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister who drowned in Lake Georgetown this weekend while under the care of a foster family.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">DFPS)</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;had placed the children under the care of a state sub-contractor called Providence Kids, an agency specializes in placing sibling groups with foster families.</span></p><p>DFPS&nbsp;spokesperson Julie Moody says the children had lived in the foster home since last August.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157815150&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 19:16:56 +0000 Joy Diaz 10749 at http://kut.org DFPS to Investigate If Sibling Drownings Were Result of Neglect Some Companies Can Refuse To Cover Contraception, Supreme Court Says http://kut.org/post/closely-held-companies-can-refuse-cover-contraception-supreme-court-says The Supreme Court has ruled that family owned and other closely held companies can opt out of the Affordable Care Act's provisions for no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance if they have religious objections.<p>The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores and those of another closely held company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., had objected on the grounds of religious freedom.<p>The ruling affirms a Hobby Lobby victory in a lower court and gives new standing to similar claims by other companies.<p><strong>Update at 1:15 p.m. Mon, 30 Jun 2014 14:46:16 +0000 Bill Chappell, NPR 10703 at http://kut.org Some Companies Can Refuse To Cover Contraception, Supreme Court Says High Court Says Police Need A Warrant For Most Cellphone Searches http://kut.org/post/high-court-says-police-need-warrant-most-cellphone-searches The U.S. Supreme Court <a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-132_8l9c.pdf">ruled unanimously Wednesday</a> that unless police have a warrant, they generally cannot search data on a cellphone seized from someone who has been arrested.<p>The decision is seen as a sweeping win for privacy advocates.<p>"Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. Wed, 25 Jun 2014 17:25:50 +0000 Krishnadev Calamur 10675 at http://kut.org Aereo's TV Streaming Service Is Illegal, Supreme Court Says http://kut.org/post/aereos-tv-streaming-service-illegal-supreme-court-says Aereo, the company that lets subscribers watch TV stations' video that it routes onto the Internet, violates U.S. copyright law, the Supreme Court has ruled. Wed, 25 Jun 2014 15:01:15 +0000 Bill Chappell, NPR 10673 at http://kut.org Aereo's TV Streaming Service Is Illegal, Supreme Court Says Report Points To 'Dangerous Militarization' Of U.S. Law Enforcement http://kut.org/post/report-points-dangerous-militarization-us-law-enforcement U.S. Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:51:46 +0000 Scott Neuman 10672 at http://kut.org Report Points To 'Dangerous Militarization' Of U.S. Law Enforcement Texas Department of Criminal Justice Sued Over Inhumane Prisoner Treatment http://kut.org/post/texas-department-criminal-justice-sued-over-inhumane-prisoner-treatment <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Three groups filed a class action lawsuit Wednesday against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and its executive director, Brad Livingston, alleging Texas prisons' lack of air conditioning is dangerous.</span></p><p>The lawsuit, filed in Houston federal court, alleges TDCJ is housing inmates in inhumane conditions that violate constitutional rights. Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota, Texas, lacks air-conditioning, and summer temperatures can send living conditions sweltering into the triple digits.</p><p>The groups bringing the suit include the Texas Civil Rights Project, and the University of Texas School of Law’s Civil Rights Clinic. The suit was filed on behalf of four prisoners at Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota. It also names Wallace Pack Unit senior warden Roberto Herrera as a defendant.</p><p> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:09:52 +0000 Joseph Baucum 10632 at http://kut.org Texas Department of Criminal Justice Sued Over Inhumane Prisoner Treatment Central Texas Courts Help Veterans Tested by War Stay Out of Jail http://kut.org/post/central-texas-courts-help-veterans-tested-war-stay-out-jail <p>Across the country and here in Texas, counties have been setting up special courts specifically for veterans in recent years.</p><p>Those veterans that go through the court have to stick with a series of commitments to avoid jail time.</p><p>Travis County has had a veterans court since 2010. Two more Central Texas counties will open their own courts in the coming months.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/150910016&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Fri, 23 May 2014 18:24:55 +0000 Veronica Zaragovia 10483 at http://kut.org Central Texas Courts Help Veterans Tested by War Stay Out of Jail Supreme Court Halts Execution Of Missouri Inmate http://kut.org/post/supreme-court-halts-execution-missouri-inmate The Supreme Court on Wednesday put off the execution of Russell Bucklew, a Missouri inmate who has maintained that his rare congenital medical condition would make the lethal injection procedure excessively painful.<p>Bucklew had been scheduled to be put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for a 1996 murder, but <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/05/20/314388938/federal-court-stays-execution-of-missouri-inmate">Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito stayed the execution</a> late Tuesday, hours before it was to take place. Thu, 22 May 2014 01:15:26 +0000 Scott Neuman 10472 at http://kut.org Supreme Court Halts Execution Of Missouri Inmate As Court Fees Rise, The Poor Are Paying The Price http://kut.org/post/court-fees-rise-poor-are-paying-price In Augusta, Ga., a judge sentenced Tom Barrett to 12 months after he stole a can of beer worth less than $2.<p>In Ionia, Mich., 19-year-old Kyle Dewitt caught a fish out of season; then a judge sentenced him to three days in jail.<p>In Grand Rapids, Mich., Stephen Papa, a homeless Iraq War veteran, spent 22 days in jail, not for what he calls his "embarrassing behavior" after he got drunk with friends and climbed into an abandoned building, but because he had only $25 the day he went to court.<p>The common thread in these cases, and scores more like them, is the jail time wasn't punishment for Mon, 19 May 2014 21:07:14 +0000 Joseph Shapiro 10448 at http://kut.org As Court Fees Rise, The Poor Are Paying The Price Bastrop Sheriff's Deputy Avoids Charges in High School Taser Case http://kut.org/post/bastrop-sheriffs-deputy-avoids-charges-high-school-taser-case <p>A Bastrop County Sheriff's deputy who <a href="http://kut.org/post/bastrop-student-coma-days-after-being-tased-sheriffs-deputies">Tased a 17-year-old</a> in the hallway of Cedar Creek High School last year will not face any charges.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The teenager, </span>Noe<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> </span>Niño<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> De Rivera, spent almost two months in a medically induced coma and is now in a residential rehabilitation center in the Hill Country. He is believed to have suffered a permanent brain injury.</span></p> Wed, 14 May 2014 01:13:10 +0000 Nathan Bernier 10412 at http://kut.org Bastrop Sheriff's Deputy Avoids Charges in High School Taser Case Will Travis County Be Sued For Participating in ICE Immigration Holds? http://kut.org/post/will-travis-county-be-sued-participating-ice-immigration-holds <p>Dozens of jurisdictions across the country have backed away from the U.S. <a href="http://www.ice.gov/">Immigration and Customs Enforcement</a> (ICE) deportation program known as Secure Communities.</p><p>But Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton is not backing away from the controversial program. And in response, a group of Austin attorneys announced Thursday they plan to start suing the county for its Secure Communities detentions.</p><p><a href="http://www.ice.gov/secure_communities/" style="line-height: 1.5;">As ICE writes</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">, the program "prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, those who pose a threat to public safety, and repeat immigration violators." But critics charge the program has been overused and resides on shaky legal ground.&nbsp;</span><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/148695764&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Fri, 09 May 2014 17:02:11 +0000 Joy Diaz 10387 at http://kut.org Will Travis County Be Sued For Participating in ICE Immigration Holds? Report Details Hundreds Of Complaints Against U.S. Border Agents http://kut.org/post/report-details-hundreds-complaints-against-us-border-agents Physical abuse and excessive force top the list of hundreds of complaints filed against U.S. Border Patrol agents, according to a new report. Wed, 07 May 2014 13:41:36 +0000 Bill Chappell, NPR 10369 at http://kut.org Report Details Hundreds Of Complaints Against U.S. Border Agents Texas 'Has No Plans' to Use Drug From Botched Oklahoma Execution http://kut.org/post/texas-has-no-plans-use-drug-botched-oklahoma-execution <p><strong>Update:&nbsp;</strong>After Tuesday night's<a href="http://kut.org/post/botched-oklahoma-execution-prompts-questions-about-lethal-injection"> botched execution in Oklahoma</a>, Texas corrections officials say they have no plans to use midazolam&nbsp;in future executions. M<span style="line-height: 1.5;">idazolam</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">was the first component of a three-drug cocktail administered to death row inmate Clayton </span>Lockett&nbsp;yesterday. <a href="http://kut.org/post/oklahoma-poised-use-new-drug-mixture-double-execution">Read more about the execution here</a>.</p><p>As&nbsp;KUT&nbsp;first reported in&nbsp;February, the state has supplies of m<span style="line-height: 1.5;">idazolam</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> on hand. But the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says in a statement that it&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">"</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">has no plans to change our procedures. Texas does not use the same drugs as Oklahoma as we use a single lethal dose of pentobarbital and we have done so since 2012.”&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Attorneys for death row inmates in Texas have unsuccessfully tried to find out who is selling compounded pentobarbital&nbsp;to the state. They're suing in civil court and&nbsp;making a case to the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General that </span>TDCJ<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> should disclose its source.&nbsp;</span></p><p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:57:27 +0000 Nathan Bernier 9775 at http://kut.org Texas 'Has No Plans' to Use Drug From Botched Oklahoma Execution Botched Oklahoma Execution Prompts Questions About Lethal Injection http://kut.org/post/botched-oklahoma-execution-prompts-questions-about-lethal-injection The <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/04/29/308081252/oklahoma-poised-to-use-new-drug-mixture-in-double-execution">botched execution</a> of death row inmate Clayton Lockett on Tuesday in Oklahoma is sparking a reassessment of lethal injection.<p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/04/30/botched-oklahoma-execution-reignites-death-penalty-debate/">The Washington Post says</a> Lockett's aborted execution and subsequent death by heart attack, along with ongoing controversies over the drugs used and how they are administered, "have begun a whole new phase Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:23:39 +0000 Scott Neuman 10329 at http://kut.org Botched Oklahoma Execution Prompts Questions About Lethal Injection Could Europe Put a Stop to the Death Penalty in Texas? http://kut.org/post/could-europe-put-stop-death-penalty-texas <p>This week, Oklahoma's Supreme Court <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/stay-cancels-oklahoma-death-row-inmates-execution-23427309">stopped the executions</a>&nbsp;of two convicted murderers. At issue: where the state gets its execution drugs. The state does not want to reveal its source. &nbsp;</p><p>Texas also has long kept its lethal drug suppliers secret, although Attorney General Greg Abbott&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/statesman/posts/366329253416649?comment_id=4005104&amp;offset=0&amp;total_comments=3">recently issued an opinion</a>&nbsp;stating it's time to go public. &nbsp;But as death penalty opponents increase the pressure to expose suppliers and to disrupt the supply of the drug, some states are reviewing their options on capital punishment.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/146116983&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:53:15 +0000 David Brown & Emily Donahue 10285 at http://kut.org Could Europe Put a Stop to the Death Penalty in Texas? Obama Seeks Wider Authority To Release Drug Offenders http://kut.org/post/obama-seeks-wider-authority-release-drug-offenders Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the Obama administration is formulating new rules that would give it, and the president, far more latitude to pardon or reduce the sentences of thousands of drug offenders serving long federal prison sentences.<p>The move comes amid a broad national reconsideration of mandatory minimum sentences approved by Congress in 1986, when America's big cities were in the grip of a crack cocaine-fueled crime wave.<p>"The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness, and proport Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:22:12 +0000 Liz Halloran, NPR 10265 at http://kut.org Obama Seeks Wider Authority To Release Drug Offenders Supreme Court Rejects Gay Wedding Photography Case http://kut.org/post/supreme-court-rejects-gay-wedding-photography-case An appeal brought by a photographer who refused to take pictures of gay weddings was turned down by the Supreme Court on Monday morning. The court also refused to hear a challenge to a ban on campaign contributions by corporations, and allowed a district court case over U.S. Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:28:56 +0000 Bill Chappell, NPR 10140 at http://kut.org Texas Facing 'Judicial Vacancy Crisis,' Report Claims http://kut.org/post/texas-facing-judicial-vacancy-crisis-report-claims <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Texas is in a judicial vacancy crisis </span><a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/TexasJudges-brief.pdf" style="line-height: 1.5;">according to a report</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> released today by the liberal</span><a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/" style="line-height: 1.5;"> Center for American Progress</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> in Washington and Austin-based </span><a href="http://progresstexas.org/" style="line-height: 1.5;">Progress Texas</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p><p>The report shows Texas has the most vacant federal judge seats of any state, with 10 spots open as of March 19. The report warns those 10 vacancies could grow to 13 if no action is taken, since three more seats are set to open up next year.</p><p></p><p>Those 10 vacant seats translate into backlogged cases, with especially high caseloads along the U.S.-Mexico border, the report notes. The majority of current and future vacancies also happen to be concentrated in the southern and western parts of the state.</p><p> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 16:04:50 +0000 Kelly Krupa 10088 at http://kut.org Texas Facing 'Judicial Vacancy Crisis,' Report Claims 15-Year-Old Found Safe After Search (Update) http://kut.org/post/15-year-old-found-safe-after-search-update <p><strong>Update: </strong>An Amber Alert for a 15-year-old Blanco girl has been canceled. Blanco Police say Sianna Gholson was found safe.</p><p>Gholson was believed abducted Tuesday morning from Blanco High School.</p><p>But, again, she’s now been found and is safe.</p><p><strong>Original Story </strong>(April 1, 5:53 p.m.): Authorities&nbsp;issued an Amber Alert Tuesday for a 15-year-old girl believed abducted from Blanco High School in Blanco, Texas at about 7:45 Tuesday morning.</p> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 10:34:20 +0000 Trey Shaar & Laura Rice 10081 at http://kut.org 15-Year-Old Found Safe After Search (Update) Man Shot by Austin Police Sgt. This Week Was Armed with BB Gun http://kut.org/post/man-shot-austin-police-sgt-week-was-armed-bb-gun <p><strong>Update</strong>:&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Austin Police made clear Thursday&nbsp;that the weapon in the hand of man who was shot this week by an APD sergeant was a pistol that fires BBs or pellets. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke about that pistol in the hours after Tuesday’s shooting.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“When the sergeant sees it, he sees the suspect put it behind his back, allegedly, and then puts it back forward. The suspect at one point yells, ‘it’s a bb gun,’ or says, ‘it’s a bb gun, it’s a bb gun.’”</span></p><p> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 23:35:46 +0000 Wells Dunbar & Trey Shaar 9989 at http://kut.org Man Shot by Austin Police Sgt. This Week Was Armed with BB Gun