Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Drug cases dropped from misconduct, and other stories

A few, disparate items that caught my eye:

J. Salvador fiasco impacts first case beyond Galveston
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted relief (pdf) for the first time in one of the Jonathon Salvador drug cases originating outside Galveston, where the District Attorney has been facilitating them most quickly. Not only that, in this case out of Harris County, unlike in Galveston, the DA's office attempted to contest the findings on behalf of the defendant but were rebuffed both by the trial court and now the CCA, which used the same boilerplate language they used to grant 18 prior cases. By Grits' count, the 19 cases overturned so far have totaled 151.5 years, for an average of eight years per case. There could easily be thousands of cases overturned based on this one lab analyst's misconduct by the time we're done. UPDATE: See more from the Houston Chronicle.

Deja vu on drug task force misconduct
As many as 75 drug cases may be dismissed in Hidalgo County because of recent misconduct charges against key members of their multi-agency drug task force. Multi-county task forces were put under DPS supervision in 2005 and those have all closed up shop rather than comply with more strict DPS policies than their loosey-goosey, oversight-free status had afforded them. But some counties simply scaled back to multi-agency drug task forces among agencies in the same county - which are not regulated by DPS - and those continue to crop up as sources of corruption and ineptitude.

Understaffing and jail suicides
See a must-read piece by Michael Barajas at the SA Current titled "Dead in Seven Hours: When overdosed meets overworked, Bexar County Jail's fatal flaws come to light."

Texas groups excoriate 5th Circuit judge over recent speech
Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has drawn a formal complaint from a variety of organizations in response to a recent, public exhibition of foot and mouth disease, reported the Austin Chronicle. Read the whole thing, a brief summary can't do it justice. See also more from the Texas Tribune, and a blog post from Paul Kennedy.

Private prison news
Several good, interesting posts over at Texas Prison Bidness if you haven't visited recently.

More media on warrants-for-email
The warrants for email legislation continues to get good coverage. There was a nice item from KVUE in Austin. See others here, here, and here. And prior press roundups. (Whether readers are sick of it or not, I need to keep tabs on the press it gets.)

Youth crime reductions leading recent crime drops
The latest drop in crime nationally is being led by a substantial reduction in youth crime, found the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Justice in New York. Grits readers, of course, are aware of my own favorite theory why that's the case: Young people spend a great deal of time engaged with technology like the internet, video games and cell phones that didn't exist 25 years ago. These activities occupy time of teens and young adults who are the most likely to commit crimes. The kid perfecting his skills at Grand Theft Auto V may not be preparing himself for the job market, but he isn't out stealing my car. There's even some formal research to back up that notion. Obviously, though, there are many factors contributing to 21st century crime reductions.


Carl said...

Re: Current piece on Bexar County Jail death
Bexar County has got to be one of the most parsiminious in the state. Booking in and out times at the jail are astoundingly long. More people are kept in after being ordered released due solely to inefficiency and a lack of modernization. And don't get me started on court appointed lawyer rates; scandalous and insulting doesn't even begin to cover it.

Mike Barajas said...

Carl re: "lack of modernization." I recently tried to figure out why people were being charged north of $100 for basic staffing and intake records for one day at the jail. I later found some of the staffing records were being kept in spiral-bound notebooks. Seriously. One of the largest jails in the country was still keeping their staffing records in hand-written spiral-bound notebooks...