Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reasonably Suspicious: Bethke leaves TIDC, cap-and-trade to limit incarceration?, DNA-mixture SNAFUs, and more

Just Liberty's latest "Reasonably Suspicious" podcast for August features discussions of important issues and fresh ideas confronting Texas' criminal justice system. (This is the last episode in our summertime "soft launch" before promoting the show more widely beginning in September.) Listen to the podcast here, or read a transcript below the jump:

Topics covered include:
  • Jim Bethke leaving TX Indigent Defense Commission
  • "Cap and Trade" proposal to minimize incarceration
  • DPS crime lab fees on hold, but crisis lingers
  • DNA mixture evidence and Texas courts
  • What can judges do to minimize debtors prison practices?
  • Brain science and capital crimes by young adults
  • And more!

Transcript: Reasonably Suspicious Podcast, featuring Just Liberty Policy Director Scott Henson and Texas Defender Service Executive Director Amanda Marzullo.

Mandy Marzullo: Hi, this is Amanda Marzullo. A Corpus Christi man was trapped inside an ATM and began slipping handwritten notes through the receipt slot asking for help. Scott, how could this sort of thing happen?

Scott Henson: In my defense, I spent most of the day writing fortune cookie slogans and surrealist aphorisms and slipping those through the slot, but by midday it got really warm in there. I think the air conditioning was broken.

Mandy Marzullo: And who doesn't like a surrealist aphorism with their cash?

Scott Henson: Really, it's what you're looking for when you go to the ATM, in my opinion. Hello, boys and girls, this is Scott Henson with the Reasonably Suspicious podcast from Just Liberty covering Texas criminal-justice policy, and politics. I’m here today with our good friend Amanda Marzullo, the executive director of the Texas Defender Service. Amanda, what are you looking forward to on the podcast today?

Mandy Marzullo: I'm looking forward to hearing Emily Gerrick and her thoughts on Texas debtors prisons.

Scott Henson: Super smart young lawyer, the whole interview was good, but that segment was especially important. First though, our top story is the impending departure of Jim Bethke, who has headed the Texas Indigent Defense Commission since its inception in 2001. Jim is leaving to run the managed assigned counsel program in Lubbock, but leaves behind a significant reform legacy which includes his work on the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions, the expansion of public defender offices in Texas, and experimentation with various indigent defense delivery models including a client-choice model in Comal County. Mandy, what's your takeaway on Bethke's ten years at the Indigent Defense Commission and where the agency is headed once he's gone?

Mandy Marzullo: Well, Jim's impending departure definitely is the end of an era. As you said in the lead in to this, he's been the head since its inception and he really has taken the state a long distance. When he started, I think one of the big things that he did is he increased transparency in the assigned counsel system, so that we know which counties are appointing people and which counties aren't. Another things is that he ... under his administration, access to counsel in misdemeanor cases, in particular, increased greatly across the state. When he took office, dozens of Texas counties were not providing counsel in any misdemeanor case, and now the appointment rate has gotten up to above 50%, actually, in the average misdemeanor case across the state. That's a huge increase.

Scott Henson: He's also responsible for the proliferation of public defender offices around the state, especially some of these smaller specialty offices like mental health public defenders or appellate public defender and popularizing that idea. They've moved away from that more in recent years, but I think largely because the criminal defense bar has pushed back really hard. But what public defender offices we have for the most part are part of his legacy, and the transparency piece is actually huge. I think we've talked about this before, that if there's one criticism, perhaps, of his tenure it's that he was never really pushing hard for the criminal defense bar to reform, but what he did do is create transparency and create a lot of data and the ability to analyze it, so we now understand [that] we have lots and lots of criminal defense lawyers with caseloads way beyond anything that's reasonable, and we can document this now. We can name them, we can tell who they are, and even though he hasn't been out there pounding those individuals saying "You have to take fewer cases", what he is doing is creating tools so that other people like judges or local systems can say "Hey, we need to manage this differently. You don't need to have 800 cases when the standards say you shouldn't be taking more than 200".

Mandy Marzullo: And that's the thing, he also published standards on caseload, so we haven't made inroads yet, but he's laid fertile ground-

Scott Henson: That's right.

Mandy Marzullo: -for further activism and that he also understood, or understands I say because he hasn't gone yet, the importance of watchdog groups and really invited us into the fold and to the table, which is different. That is a departure from precedent in Texas.

Scott Henson: That's right, and I think the final thing I'd say about his tenure, and to elaborate on that, his greatest successes were from bringing lots of different stakeholders who you really wouldn't imagine to the same table to have conversation. Sharon Keller, the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is his board chair and, frankly, the criminal defense bar probably doesn't trust her and further than they could pick her up and throw her. Yet somehow, he has been able to create an organization that is trusted by both her and the criminal defense bar and, really, by most parties who deal with them and that's really an important and impressive legacy for Jim.

Mandy Marzullo: Moving on, DPS's announcement that it would charge local governments for its crime lab services incited outrage among numerous stakeholders. One rural sheriff threatened to begin charging DPS for housing inmates arrested by their troopers, in retaliation. Governor Abbott ordered DPS to postpone implementing the fee, but the Legislature hasn't budgeted enough to operate crime labs through the full biennium without it. So, Scott, what's going to happen now?

Scott Henson: Well, Governor Abbott has essentially kicked the can down the road, but only for a very short period of time and this really is not sustainable through the next biennium. Somethings gonna have to give. The Department of Public Safety had asked for significantly more money for its crime labs than in the previous biennium because they don't control their own budget. They have to give crime lab services to every agency that requests them. And so, the number of agencies requesting them and the number of requests per agency has been increasing and increasing.  And so, they asked for an increase over the last biennium’s budget and did not receive that. Moreover, the Legislature said "Not only are we not going to give you an increase, we are gonna give you less money from general revenue and tell you to go charge fees for the remaining $11 million". And so, when Governor Abbott said "Okay, I'm gonna rescind those fees", all of the sudden, DPS is looking at a very significant shortfall. They can continue to take cases for a while, but sometime in the second year of the biennium, they're simply going to run out of money and they will either then need to begin charging fees, they will need to begin rationing, or the Legislature’s going to have to ... The Legislative Budget Board would have to come up with money in the end. Those are sort of your three alternatives, but all of those are basically poor management. They didn't plan ahead well and this is a very reactive and ham handed approach to all of this.

Mandy Marzullo: Yeah. And if they're smart, they're going to begin rationing sooner rather than later because it's not going to work if they wait until there's an emergency. So, we may be seeing some incentives or increased incentives for local governments to divert cases or pick and choose which cases it submits for lab testing. I think another piece of this that might be important to think about too, though, is that we don't want people entering pleas without the necessary lab testing.

Scott Henson: That's right. And, in some cases, it's possible the defense may be who has to end up asking for testing in these circumstances because, normally, the state would do it and DPS is often a trusted actor. It doesn't mean the evidence doesn’t need to be tested. So, it leaves a lot of open questions and, unfortunately when you talk about rationing, it also may mean that some cases can't be pursued and the same thing is going to be the case, actually, if they have to start paying, if they have to pick and choose based on what they want to pay for. Well, if they don't want to pay for it, they might not get to pursue this case. So, this is all about rationing in some way, shape, or form. It's about how you implement rationing, just as a top line thing or if you do it through a market system.

Alright, next up. Two years ago the Texas Forensic Science Commission launched an investigation into forensics surrounding DNA mixtures, finding that most Texas agencies, including DPS, were using invalid mathematical techniques to analyze DNA mixture evidence. The method correcting the math, applying something called a stochastic threshold to the data, resulted in many instances where previous matches from DNA, all of the sudden, were called into question. Now, though, the 12th Court of Appeals out of Tyler has upheld a conviction where the prosecution used a third party analysis of DNA mixture evidence, even though its analytical methods are secret and can't be vetted by defense experts

In that case before the 12th Court, this black box method reversed a negative result from the stochastic method. So, DNA forensic analysts produced three different results in this case from the same data. There was the admittedly flawed method which first identified the defendant. Then, correcting the math of the first method meant the defendant couldn't be identified. And finally, the proprietary black box method fingered the defendant again.

So, Mandy, what's your take on all of this confusing array of forensic results?

Mandy Marzullo: Well, I think, at the end of the day, it's just that this case didn't resolve the issue. The issue on appeal was whether or not the state had proved its case or, specifically, was there sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of the crime and the 12th Court of Appeals affirmed the case, but it took a lot of different evidence into analysis. And when it came to the DNA evidence and sort of analogized those two conflicting account from witnesses and said that that's within the purview of the jury to look at the different tests that are in front of it and decide which one it would deem credible.

Scott Henson: So, the DNA testing company, STRMIX (pronounced “Star-Mix”), was actually touting this in the press as "Texas courts say this is admissible, this is okay". Well, it was admitted, but this wasn't really a ruling on admissibility.

Mandy Marzullo: Exactly. The defense did not appeal the ruling by the trial court and we don't even know if this was challenged at the trial level that admitted this evidence or admitted this testing into evidence. That's another issue and that's something that the defense really should be litigating, is whether STRMIX or either of these-

Scott Henson: Probabilistic genotyping.

Mandy Marzullo: -probabilistic genotyping is admissible. Is it hearsay? Are there confrontation clause issues that we need to take into account? And that's just not a piece of the puzzle here.

Scott Henson: The other piece that's strange to me about the probabilistic genotyping method is that, unlike the stochastic threshold and most other mathematical methods that you use in court, the results are not replicable. They use something called a Monte Carlo analysis where they do thousands and thousands of tests and hypotheticals and come up with a result based on that, but you actually get a different result every time, so an expert analyzing the same data won't come back with the same result. I'm not sure that makes it the best tool for courts to use.

Mandy Marzullo: It gives rise to another challenge, right? Because courts, as gate keepers, are only allowed or they're only supposed to admit evidence that bears on the question "Who did this? Is this indicative of anything". So, a testing protocol that issues a different result every time, there are reasons to believe that it isn't reliable and that's yet another challenge to this.

Scott Henson: And, in this case, the two main companies that are doing this type of testing called TrueAllele and STRMIX, which is the one used here in Texas. There was actually a case in upstate New York where the two methods came out with contradictory results and I think a lot of this is still up in the air. The president's advisory commission on science and technology under president Obama actually came out and said that while this was promising technology, it wasn't ripe yet and it hasn't been validated. So, I think maybe you're right. The admissibility challenge is something that, maybe, needs to happen soon.

Mandy Marzullo: We'll see. Coming up, stay tuned for a discussion of a creative idea to reduce mass incarceration, as well as youth under 21 of age should be eligible for the death penalty. But, first, Scott sat down with Emily Gerrick of the Texas Fair Defense Project to discuss issues related to debtors prisons and traffic ticket debt. We'll publish the full interview later this week, but for now, here’s Emily's takeaway on what judges can do to mitigate the harms of state sanctioned debtors prison.

Scott Henson: Alright. I'm here today with Emily Gerrick, a staff attorney with the Texas Fair Defense Project. How are you doing Emily?

Emily Gerrick: I'm good. Thanks. How are you?

Scott Henson: I'm well. Thank you so much for joining us. The Legislature doesn't meet for another two years, but in the meantime, there's a lot that local judges can do on their own to address some of these debtors-prison-type issues. There's a lot that's in judges’ discretion. So, talk to us a little bit about wat local judges can do who want to make a dent in this problem?

Emily Gerrick: So, I think one of the biggest things is the license program that we were just talking about and the reason the license program is so important for the cycle of debt is because once people have a hold on their license and can't drive legally, then they keep getting more and more tickets and they get, often times, at least three tickets every time they get pulled over. They get the no drivers license ticket. They get the no insurance ticket. They get a no registration ticket because they can't register their vehicle due to another hold for not paying their tickets.

Scott Henson: Plus whatever they were pulled over for.

Emily Gerrick: Exactly. And then they get fees for each of those tickets. Sometimes they're just pulled over for not having registration. So, your car is kind of a moving target and so, it's really easy for people to really rapidly accumulate thousands of dollars in debt that they wouldn't have if they didn't have theses holds. And the thing about the failure to appear/pay program is that jurisdictions have to actually choose to enter into that program. So, they can decide to pull out of that program at any time and I think that would make a huge difference for people. They'd be able to start driving legally again and then they'd be much more likely to pay off their tickets because that's something that is really really holding people back right now.

Scott Henson: And even short of pulling out of the program, every individual judge is making choices to put those holds on there, to make an order for that hold, even if the municipality has not pulled out of the program. The judge can simply stop ordering those holds. That's something within their discretion, right?

Emily Gerrick: Yes, and the judge can order those holds to be lifted for the hundreds of thousands of people who currently have those holds.

Scott Henson: Alright. So, what else can local judges and JP's do because I know there's really a lot of moving parts to this and a lot of different ways to skin this cat.

Emily Gerrick: So, another important thing that people are really struggling with right now are warrants that they aren't able to clear. There are a lot of courts that will not clear your warrants if you come in and try to take care of your ticket, unless you have some amount of money. They'll require you to give a down payment before you can get on a payment plan, so you can't clear your warrant. You just have to be turned away or possibly be arrested when you go to court. And judges can stop doing that. There are a lot of courts that aren't requiring down payments to get on community service plans and are lifting warrants when people make a good faith effort to take care of their tickets and that's something that can and should be done right away.

Scott Henson: Alright. Now, how about on jail credits and community service? We changed when the judges are allowed to order those things, but we didn't really change too much, I guess we changed how much community service you get credit for, right? You get more.

Emily Gerrick: We changed the minimum, but for the people who have thousands of dollars, that translates into hundreds of hours. So, one thing that judges can do, the law changed the minimum, they didn't put a maximum on it. So, judges can give a lot more community-service credit to people. They can give jail credit to people, well over $100 a night, and just make it easier to work off your tickets. So, more credit per hour when you do community service would be really helpful. Another thing about community service, that we see a problem with, is right now judges are only allowed to wave tickets for people who can't do the community service without “undue hardships.” So, if you can do community service without undue hardship, you have to do it before you qualify for a waiver, but there's no definition of undue hardship in the law. That's up to judges what they think is an undue hardship and some judges, I think, don't understand how hard certain things are. So, we have single mothers, one single mother with seven kids. She can't do community service. You have seven that you're responsible for, you're not going to be able to go out and do community service.

Scott Henson: Or really have a life of any kind at all, actually.

Emily Gerrick: That's definitely true. People do community service to help you, you're not the one doing the community service, but judges will think "Okay, well this person doesn't have a disability, so they don't have an undue hardship. They can do the community service". And that will make it so the person is trapped and can't do anything. I see that a lot with mental disabilities versus physical disabilities too. So, judges will think "Well, the person, they're homeless, they have schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They can't really navigate a complicated court system or community service plan, but they don't have any physical disabilities".

Scott Henson: They're able bodied.

Emily Gerrick: Yes, they're able bodied, so they should be able to work. So, we see that happen a lot. It doesn't really make any sense because, again, those people, other people do community service to help those people.

Scott Henson: Right.

Emily Gerrick: Yeah. So, it doesn't make sense to order them, too. You're setting them up for failure and it think judges can think about what really is a hardship and make decisions accordingly.

Scott Henson: Today, we launch a new game segment on the podcast called Points for Creativity, in which we discuss creative public policy solutions and score them from zero to 100. This time we'll consider a fascinating proposal for reducing mass incarceration through the creation of economic incentives for local prosecutors and judges using the cap and trade system, modeled after environmental programs to control excessive pollution. The idea comes out of an article published as part of a 2014 anthology called The American Prison, then later highlighted in John Pfaff's new book: Locked In. In essence, the idea is for the state to issue an allotment of incarceration, which is the cap measured in bed years for each county based on population and crime rates. Then, if those counties want to incarcerate more than their share, they can purchase extra bed years through a straight-up market mechanism. Jurisdiction that incarcerate at lower rates could sell extra bed years and use the money for treatment programming, community supervision, or even tax relief. The proposal would make local decision-makers responsible for the economic consequences of mass incarceration, while providing incentives to reduce success of jailing. So Mandy, what score would you give this idea and how do you think it would play out in Texas?

Mandy Marzullo: So, I'd give this a 75 or an 80. And this is a great idea, which you can tell came from an economist, but would get rid of some of the incentives that have been big drivers in mass incarceration, in terms of putting pressure on counties and then, by extension, prosecutors and judges to send fewer people to prison and when they are sent, to send them for less time. I think part of the problem we would have in Texas is the political environment in some of these jurisdictions that are sending people away for a lot of time, I think would support it. And so, I think there's a need for a counter-narrative about how to discuss prosecutors and judges and, basically, for the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in general, but doesn't use the number of convictions and jail time as a metric.

Scott Henson: Right, although I do think that if you made this change, the prosecutors and judges would be the leaders in creating those new metrics because would, all of the sudden, have to be justifying their own decisions and they would be at the forefront of identifying what those new values are.

I'm a little more optimistic about this idea than you are and maybe it's because I was an economics major that I'm a willing to countenance such a thing, but I’d probably score this at a 90 because I think this gets to the heart of a lot of the incentives that really make mass incarceration the easy option for local decision makers. It's very simple to just say "Okay. This person is an addict and I could put him on probation and try and get them treatment and try and help them and their family or I can make them the Department of Criminal Justice's problem and send them to the state prison and not think about them for a couple of years." And that's cheaper and easier for them, but I think that making it more expensive to make that choice might make a big difference. Certainly, the pushback would be "Oh, well we can incarcerate anyone we want". Well, no. No one can. There are limits.

Mandy Marzullo: And I think part of what you would see is that some prosecutors and judges would come out and say "This is money we need to spend. Ladies and gentlemen, we need to send these people away to protect you". And then, because we have so much stratification in terms of who is being sent away, I do worry that the pockets of Texas that send the most people away aren't going to change and that's where we really need to change the behavior and to have a counter-narrative or another way to talk about why we're incarcerating to begin with and when is it appropriate when it isn't appropriate, need to get in there. And that's been the problem, I think, for the defense and the advocacy community, is that there are a lot of moving parts here.

Scott Henson: Sure.

Mandy Marzullo: And it's hard to come up with a counter-narrative to something that is really complex.

Scott Henson: Right. On the other hand, I have to wonder is it really that big a problem if some jurisdictions would choose to over-incarcerate and choose to pay that extra because think about how that would play out. If they wanted to incarcerate more, then they would have to purchase those extra bed] years from some other counties. So, say here in Travis county, if we don't incarcerate at the same levels as other counties and we say "Well, we'd rather have tax relief or we'd rather spend money on our greenbelt or we'd rather spend money on treatment programming in our criminal justice system". And so, if people up in Amarillo and Potter county want to pay us a few million dollars extra for bed years that we're not going to use anyway, they want it, we don't. Why shouldn't they get it and why shouldn't there be some economic recompense there? Because the goal of maximizing public safety while minimizing incarceration should be the goal of the system. And so, this starts to reward people who are able to do that.

Mandy Marzullo: But, it doesn't get rid of the problem of what happens when a high profile case results from quote unquote lenient treatment to a potentially violent offender. And those are the cases at the margins and that's where you need to have some other discussion, some other narrative about the system in general, in order to combat it.

Scott Henson: And there actually was a suggestion in that article …

Mandy Marzullo: That you exempt homicides.

Scott Henson: The highest level offenses, that's right. So, you're not going to have rape and murder be subject to this, but this is really more about the more volitional low level stuff: the property offenders, the drug offenders, the low level fist fight in the bar, this sort of thing.

Mandy Marzullo: Which can do a lot, but I still get nervous about it. So, I'm sticking to my C, B minus rating.

Scott Henson: Alright, you're a tough grader.

Next up, our newly re-named segment on capital punishment, now titled "Death and Texas." Today's topic: a court case out of Kentucky with particular significance from many Texas death penalty cases.

Mandy Marzullo: So, this, obviously, as you said in your lead-up, is a non-Texas case with big implications for the lone star state. So, essentially, a Kentucky judge ruled that it violates the eighth amendment to execute individuals who are 21 at the time of their offense, or 21 and under. So, this is an extension of the famous US Supreme Court case; Roper v. Simmons, where the Supreme Court said that individuals who are juveniles at the time of their murder are ineligible for the death penalty. So, what the court basically said is the majority of jurisdictions in the US do not execute individuals who are in the age group for their offense and so, that takes into account states that are non-death states and then it looked at states such as Utah and a bunch of others that have the death penalty, but have not executed someone within this age bracket for a long period of time. And then pointed out that Texas is really the big outlier here. 19 out of 33 executions within the past five years are out of Texas.

Scott Henson: Right. So, it really sounds like it's almost a primarily Texas issue and a few other states have a handful of cases. Even though this case was out of Kentucky, the reason I agreed that we should talk about it was that, gosh, this is actually a Texas thing. What I thought of as I read this case was some work by a friend of mine named Vinny Schiraldi, who is at Harvard and did some work here in Texas 15 years ago on some decarceration type issues. But these days, Vinny has been promoting an idea that people 18 to 25 years old should have a third judicial system, in a way. A third system to deal with them because they have different issues from juveniles, yet they're not adults and the brain science says that their brains aren't fully developed. And, indeed, that was the main thing that this judge found convincing was the overwhelming consensus among neuroscientists that your brain development was continuing all the way to your mid 20s and that the types of cognitive decision making that we're expecting from 18 to 21 year olds, treating them as adults is really not realistic based on what science understands we should expect from them. So, I think that 18 to 21, 21 I thought, given Vinny wanting it to go to 25 and the brain science says it changes into the mid 20s. I almost wondered why 21, although I'm sure that's because that what the plaintiffs had requested, that's part of the discussion of this particular case.

Mandy Marzullo: I think there was also some evidence introduced that the distinction between an 18 year old and a 21 year old, in terms of how cooked their brains are, is almost indistinguishable. Your brain continues to develop until you're in your mid 20s, in particular the functions that deal with cognitive reasoning and impulse control, but that they are particularly underdeveloped when you're 21.

Scott Henson: That's right. The judge did say that 18 to 21 year olds' brains are more like 15 or 16 year old brains then they ar 24, 25.

Mandy Marzullo: Exactly.

Scott Henson: So, that is probably why that distinction, but it does make you think "Wow, you can make this argument, even for more," potentially, and you've mentioned to me once that almost all of the death penalty cases are these fairly young folks. I mean, there aren't a lot of 40 year olds committing crimes that send them to death row. It is usually young people, so …

Mandy Marzullo: It is often. Well, I would say just a lot of violent crime, just in general, is perpetrated by this age group.

Scott Henson: That's right.

Mandy Marzullo: And there are a lot of reasons that go into in, but then there are a lot of reasons to believe that we might need to have more tailored sentencing, like your friend has said. Another thing that they point out in the decision is that criminal behavior at a young age is a poor predictor of your threat to society going on.

Scott Henson: That's right. The judge cited a study that said that 90% of serious juvenile defenders age out of crime as adults and don't commit serious crimes as an adult. And so, I thought that the science that the judge relied upon was very very interesting and really has implications well beyond the death penalty and, certainly, beyond Kentucky. Now it's time for our rapid fire segment called The Last Hurrah. Mandy, are you ready?

Mandy Marzullo: I'm ready.

Scott Henson: Texas attorney general Ken Paxton signed on to a legal brief in federal court suggesting that the possibility a suspect is carrying a gun in a state that allows concealed carry does not justify so-called Terry frisks by a police officer. Does that make sense?

Mandy Marzullo: Absolutely. In a state where anyone may be packing, how can you draw inferences from that?

Moving on, Just Liberty's petition to the Texas Department of Public Safety to eliminate most arrests for class C misdemeanors has been filed and more than 1,600 people and 16 different organizations have signed on to support it. (Update: now more than 2,800 people!) What's next?

Scott Henson: The Public Safety Commission meets later this month and we'll be there to ask them to initiate rule making. They should make the decision at that meeting whether to deny or move ahead with the process.

A dozen Texans serving life without parole for crimes served as juveniles still have not been resistances on the Supreme Court's Miller decision according to recent press report. Is this a big deal?

Mandy Marzullo: Not really. The bigger issue is whether Texas’ statute, which requires a 40 year sentence for these cases, conflicts with the constitution. The Marshall Project reported last week that Texas' felony thresholds for property theft at $2,500, meaning that someone has to steal $2,500 or more of merchandise before it becomes a felony. We're the highest in the country compared to $200 in Virginia and $300 in Florida. Does this mean Texas is soft on crime?

Scott Henson: It means we're smart on crime. This is the main reason Texas was able to close four new prison units this legislative session. Texas, really, just increased its felony theft thresholds to match inflation over that period. So, I imagine if those other states did to, they would go up quite a bit.

A new law review article contends that Texas' junk science writ is written too narrowly and that California's is too broad. Is that right?

Mandy Marzullo: Possibly. Texas junk science writ is a work in progress, but I will say that there were some problems with this article and it's analysis.

In response to a federal court order, Texas will move 1,000 inmates out of the pack unit into air conditioned facility. Scott, is this the end of the beginning?

Scott Henson: I think it's just the beginning of the beginning. There are a lot of other inmates who are in the category that the judges labeled heat sensitive and, if these inmates have to be moved to air conditioned facilities, it's hard to imagine there won't be more litigation seeking to broaden this ruling. So, I image that this is not the last we'll be hearing of this. Alright. So, we're out of time, but we'll try and do better the next time. Until then, I'm Scott Henson with Just Liberty.

Mandy Marzullo: And I'm Amanda Marzullo with the Texas Defender Service. Goodbye and thanks for listening.

Scott Henson: We'll be back next month with another edition of the Reasonably Suspicious Podcast. Shout out to Jim Bethke. Congratulations on your new gig and good job with your excellent tenure with the Indigent Defense Commission.

Until next time, keep fighting for criminal justice reform. It's the only way it's going to happen.

Transcribed by Rev.com. Edited for grammar and clarity by Scott Henson.


Lee said...

Stuck in an ATM?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Well, technically you're not stuck until you try to get out. :)

rozmataz said...

Prion in Texas without air conditioning is cruel and unusual punishment. How do these prisons get away with this? Guantanamo comes to mind.

rozmataz said...


Richard Dulany, Jr. said...

Jim Bethke did an amazing job at the TIDC, especially as someone was almost sure to be upset with any action he took. I know I was mad at him a time or two. But he was committed to improving indigent defense in Texas and has left a solid legacy to build on. He will be missed.