Here's their feature article about him written by Nate Blakeslee. Readers from TYC will be interested to learn that Jay Kimbrough's appointment of Harrell, he said, stemmed from Will's involvement in the campaign to abolish Texas' Tulia-style drug task forces:
The two first met in 2001, when Harrell was the executive director of the ACLU of Texas and Kimbrough became executive director of Perry’s criminal justice division. The ACLU had been pushing for reforms in the drug war, and seizing on a notorious police corruption scandal in the Panhandle town of Tulia, Harrell assembled a coalition to shut down the state’s scandal-plagued regional drug task forces. It was his first major organizing campaign as head of the ACLU of Texas, and though it took a few years to gain momentum, it became a stunning success. The governor eventually allowed the task forces to die on the vine, shifting funding and responsibility for statewide drug enforcement back to the more disciplined and better-managed narcotics division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Harrell followed this win with hard-fought victories on racial profiling and sentencing reform. He had a knack for attracting grant money from national foundations, some of which had previously written off organizing in Texas, and he accomplished all of this at a time when progressive wins were few and far between at the Capitol.In addition to the piece on Harrell, TM web editor Eileen Smith published a companion "web extra" Q&A with yours truly regarding a wide range of criminal justice topics, including TYC, drug task forces, and the role of race and the criminal justice system. (See the interview here; I told her it was really an "A&Q," since a couple of the questions were rewritten afterward!)
Just for a taste, when asked what would be the long-run effect on Texas' death penalty of the current Baze case pending before the US Supreme Court (which will decide the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures), I replied, in part:
There was a brief moratorium in Texas during the 1920s, when they shifted from hanging condemned inmates in the county jails to killing them in Huntsville. When they finally got the new electric chair system set up, they electrocuted five men on the same day in 1924 to make up the backlog. I don’t think we’ll see that many at once, but we might set a [modern] record for the number of executions in a single month as soon as the death penalty is reinstated.Read the rest, check out the interview with Harrell, or see who else TM profiled among its 35 movers and shakers, including Charles Kuffner, our good pal from Off the Kuff.