I came to believe that there were two kinds of people on death row. ... You had guys who were true sociopaths. A lot of them fell into that category. And then you had guys who’d gotten themselves into a bad situation—running with a rough crowd, abusing alcohol, doing drugs. Maybe they robbed a store to get money for drugs and something went wrong and they shot the clerk. They’d had a choice to make, and they’d made the wrong one, but they hadn’t set out with the intention of killing someone.The story also included this brief aside about the agency's shift away from transparency in the last decade: "TDCJ itself was changing. Under the leadership of a new executive director, Brad Livingston, who was appointed in 2005, the agency had grown more skittish about media attention, and Michelle’s attempts to grant access to journalists or be proactive about press coverage were increasingly discouraged."
The agency's leadership became even more insular and averse to transparency after Lyons left. Where previously one could call and ask for a document and frequently the Public Information Office would just email it to you, today everything must be done via open records requests, takes forever, and often one comes away feeling like information was withheld. (One could say the same thing for Texas DPS under Col. Steve McCraw, btw.)
No real conclusions to draw or policies to recommend from Colloff's story and it won't change anyone's mind about the death penalty one way or the other. But it was a good read.