Crime & Justice

Texas Standard
2:07 pm
Fri July 24, 2015

Could Better Mental Health Care Have Saved Sandra Bland's Life?

Screenshot via Facebook video/1168639983152111

From Texas Standard:

As officials further investigate Sandra Bland’s case, the Standard continues to ask questions. Tuesday we talked about the legalities of the arrest itself. Here we look at mental health procedures for Texas inmates. This interview discusses suicide and provides some details of Bland’s death.

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Texas Standard
4:30 pm
Wed July 22, 2015

10 Things About The Sandra Bland Traffic Stop That Every Texan Should Know

Jim Harrington with the Texas Civil Rights Project sits down with Texas Standard to go through the Sandra Bland dash cam video step-by-step.
Flickr/punchup (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

On July 10, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was arrested and charged with assaulting a public servant. She was taken to the Waller County Jail; three days later, she was found in her cell dead from what officials called suicide. Both the FBI and the Texas Rangers launched investigations trying to find out what happened.

Dashboard camera footage from Bland’s traffic stop was released on Tuesday.  (Note: The video was uploaded to YouTube Tuesday evening; it has since been taken down, after people pointed out errors and inconsistencies in the video, which led many to believe it had been edited. A DPS spokesman denied editing the video, and re-uploaded the footage without errors or omissions this afternoon.)

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Crime & Justice
12:13 pm
Mon July 20, 2015

Sandra Bland Mourned From Illinois to Texas

Sharon Cooper speaks at the memorial for her sister, Sandra Bland, at Hope AME Church in Prairie View, Texas, on July 19, 2015.
Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Sandra Bland began her Facebook videos by greeting viewers as "kings and queens." Those close to her believe she truly meant it.

“She talks to us as kings and queens,” one of her sisters, Shavon Bland, said outside the family's church in Illinois on Sunday. “That’s how she went around the world speaking. From here to Chicago to Texas — wherever she went.”

On both ends of the path that marked Bland's 28-year life — the western suburbs of Chicago where she grew up, and the Texas town where she died — family, friends and supporters continued to raise questions Sunday about her startling death in the Waller County jail as they took time to remember, honor and reflect.

For more background information on the case of Sandra Bland, the Texas Tribune has coverage here, here and here.

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Crime & Justice
12:08 pm
Tue July 14, 2015

McCaul: 'Absurd' to Think Guzmán Fled Without Inside Help

U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul visits with the press before his meeting with Gov. Greg Abbott at the Texas Capitol on Feb. 18, 2015.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

The Texan who is the U.S. House's top Republican on homeland security issued a scathing indictment of Mexican officials on Tuesday for letting Joaquin Guzmán, the world’s most notorious drug lord, tunnel out of a maximum-security prison.

Guzmán, who was captured last year after being sought since 2001, fled one of Mexico’s maximum-security prisons last weekend through a one-mile tunnel that was connected to the shower in his cell.

“The idea that there wasn’t complicity and corruption going on when you got a mile-long tunnel underneath the facility is absolutely absurd,” U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, told CNN Tuesday morning. 

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Crime & Justice
5:42 pm
Mon July 13, 2015

Update: Amber Alert for 16-Year-Old Tanner Jordan Discontinued

Tanner Jordan
Texas Department of Public Safety

An Amber Alert is in effect for 16-year-old Tanner Jordan, who was last seen Sunday morning in the Nacogdoches County town of Appleby. He’s 5’ 10”, 115 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair. The suspect is 34-year-old Katie Miller, 5’11”, 170 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. They may be in a White 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 four-door pickup, with Texas plates, AE8 5145. Anyone who sees them is asked to call the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office at 936-560-7777.

Crime & Justice
4:48 pm
Mon July 13, 2015

Austin Ranks in Top Five For Number of Deaths by Police This Year

The Guardian released a comprehensive analysis of data on deaths by police in the U.S. So far this year, 6 people in Austin were fatally shot by police.
The Guardian

Austin has the fourth-highest total number of people fatally shot by police this year, according to a new analysis by the Guardian Newspaper.

The report shows Austin has six deaths caused by police in 2015 – the same as New York City. All six of those shot reportedly had a gun, or one was found near the scene. In one case the weapon turned out to be a BB gun.

Houston had the second-most deaths caused by police this year with eight. Los Angeles, with 11 so far this year, tops the list.

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Texas Standard
2:53 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

How Does Texas Legally Handle Sexual Assault and Rape Cases?

Rape kits are one tool used to prosecute rape cases. As the case against Bill Cosby grows, Christopher Kaiser for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault explains how Texas law deals with sexual assault cases.
IAEA Imagebank/flickr

From Texas Standard:

Allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted or raped multiple women have been making headlines for several months. Now, thanks to the Associated Press, his previous admission to slipping sedatives to women has come to light. The 10-year-old deposition was part of a sexual assault trial filed by a former Temple University employee against Cosby. The case was settled privately in 2006, so no final verdict was issued.

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Texas Standard
5:16 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

Texas Observer Reports Mass Graves Investigation May Have Been Botched

Grave markers next to a Brooks County burial plot marked for exhumation in May 2013 by the Baylor University forensics team.
Texas Observer

From Texas Standard:

John Carlos Frey, a reporter with the Texas Observer, joins the Texas Standard to talk about the wrong-doings he found while looking into an inquiry led by the Texas Rangers.

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Crime & Justice
3:00 pm
Sat June 20, 2015

From Death Row, an Inmate Reflects on Fatherhood

Rodolfo Medrano is sentenced to death for his role in providing weapons that were used in the murders of six men in Hidalgo County in 2003.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Sunday is Father's Day, and as we celebrate the fathers in our lives, we realize that roles are changing.

Little by little, more men are participating in the upbringing of their children. Of course, some fathers are more hands-on than others.

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Crime & Justice
4:42 pm
Mon June 15, 2015

After Shootings at Police Headquarters, Departments Consider Bulletproof Glass

Neither Dallas' nor Austin's police headquarters have bullet-resistant windows. After Saturday's shooting in Dallas, officials there are considering it.
wikimedia commons

After a shooting early Saturday at the police headquarters in Dallas, officials there are calling for more building security. One of the improvement measures they are considering is installing bulletproof glass.

Austin had its own shooting on police headquarters back in November, and repairs on the building will start in a few weeks. But the department did not have bulletproof glass before the shooting, and there are no plans to install it now.

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Same-Sex Marriage
7:52 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Legal Battle Over Gay Marriage Hits The Supreme Court Tuesday

Protesters hold a pro-gay-rights flag outside the US Supreme Court on Saturday, countering the demonstrators who attended the March For Marriage in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court meets on Tuesday to hear arguments over whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to wed in the United States, with a final decision expected in June.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 4:50 pm

People have been lining up outside the U.S. Supreme Court for days hoping that they will be among the lucky ones to get a seat for Tuesday's historic arguments on gay marriage.

As of now, gay marriage is legal in 36 states. By the end of this Supreme Court term, either same-sex couples will be able to wed in all 50 states, or gay marriage bans may be reinstituted in many of the states where they've previously been struck down.

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Crime & Justice
2:58 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Drunk Driving Awareness March

Surviving family members of victims of drunk driving and APD officers march around the Texas Capitol to raise awareness. Central Texas mother Nancy Pratt (centered) lost her daughter Brianne in a DWI crash in 2013.
Anthony Green/KUT News

Austin police Chief Art Acevedo and Texas state representative Jason Villalba joined AAA Texas, community members and leaders Friday in honoring local lives lost to drinking and driving. 

A press conference was followed by a silent march around a cloud-covered Texas Capitol for the city's third annual March for Change. Last year, Texas drivers experienced more than 24,000 alcohol related crashes that resulted in over 1,000 deaths, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

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Crime & Justice
10:26 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Can Texans Help Find the 43 Missing Students From Southwest Mexico?

Omar Garcia Velazquez, 24, a student survivor, gives an interview with Mexico's W Radio.
sopitas.com

Next week will be six months since 43 students from a rural teaching school disappeared in Southwest Mexico.

The government of Mexico says the students are dead.

But family members believe the government is misleading them. That's why some came to Texas hoping to keep their case alive.

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Crime & Justice
1:08 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

In Wake of Last Month's Uprising, Bureau of Prisons Cuts Willacy Facility's Contract

Kate Ter Haar/flickr

The company that runs an immigrant prison in Raymondville, Tex., has lost its contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The facility was nicknamed "Ritmo" – like Guantanamo Bay's Gitmo. But, the reported abuses that earned it its Gitmo-like reputation are not the reason why it lost its contract. The contract was revoked after a two-day riot broke out there last month.

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Crime & Justice
11:27 am
Wed March 11, 2015

ACLU Asks Justice Department to Investigate Texas Prison Riot

The ACLU is calling for a Department of Justice investigation into last month's riot at a prison in Raymondville.
Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate last month's riot at a private immigrant prison in Raymondville, Tex. That's because the ACLU does not believe the prison is able to do a good job investigating itself.

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Texas Standard
11:35 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Eighty-Five Year Old Advocates for Marijuana Reform

Eighty-five-year-old Ann Lee (left), founder of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, with Senator Ted Cruz (center).

Ann Lee, founder of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP), says it was her son's health that prompted her activism.

 

A new bill in the Texas House of Representatives would strike all references to marijuana from state statutes. Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) filed House Bill 2165 on Monday. The bill would effectively end the state-wide prohibition of the drug.

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Crime & Justice
2:17 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Judges Now Required to Allow Juries to Consider Seat Belt Use in Accident Settlements

Last week's Texas Supreme Court ruling allows juries to consider how seatbelt use impacts accident victims in civil lawsuits.
ffion atkinson/flickr

Nothing puts the brakes on Austin drivers like winter weather. In a freeze last year, emergency services responded to more than 250 accidents, none of which were fatal, in one day. While the late starts at schools and offices across the city this morning preempted a slew of pileups, drivers in North Texas could see as much as four inches of snow from a cold snap that’s expected to last until tomorrow morning.

Suffice to say, there are sure to be a few accidents in Texas over the next few days, but, snow or no, a recent ruling from the Texas Supreme Court could affect court cases handling everything from fender benders to fatal accidents to faulty airbag lawsuits in courts.

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Crime & Justice
4:22 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Marijuana Activists Lobby for Lower Penalties, Medical Access

Credit Jaypeg21/flickr

Nearly 300 marijuana advocates gathered today at the Texas State Capitol to lobby for lower criminal penalties for possession, such as those proposed in House Bill 507, and for access to medical marijuana. 

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Crime & Justice
1:42 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Fort Hood Victims To Receive Purple Hearts

An administrative hearing will be held Thursday for Major Nidal Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter.
KUT News

Victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting attack will be awarded Purple Heart medals for their service and sacrifice.

The Army announced in a press release that because of changes to the eligibility criteria for the medals, the victims of the attack on the Fort Hood Army Base can now receive the awards.

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Crime & Justice
5:40 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Supreme Court Stays Next Texas Execution

Huntsville facility in Texas.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday put a stop to the upcoming execution of convicted killer Lester Bower.

Bower, 67, was scheduled to be executed in the Huntsville facility on Feb. 10, next Tuesday. He murdered four men at an airplane hangar outside of Dallas in 1983. He was one of the longest serving inmates on death row, having resided there for more than 30 years. The length of his stay may be one of the reasons that the court decided to halt the execution and consider the prisoner's three-part appeal.

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