Saturday, June 02, 2018

Too full rural jails; missing interrogation recording can't be used as 'sword' against defendant; and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends of which Grits readers should be aware:

Youthful offenders get new home, program at TDCJ
The federal Prison Rape Elimination Act created special requirements for housing youth under 18 away from older inmates. After a sexual incident at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Youthful Offender Program that forced its from-scratch overhaul, the firing of the warden and most staff, and moving the program to an entirely different unit, it becomes more obvious why. Lauren McGaughy at the Dallas News has a report from the new unit housing the program.

TJJD safer with fewer inmates, director says
According to this letter to Governor Abbott from Texas Juvenile Justice Department Executive Director Camille Cain, " I am happy to report that we have already seen progress on several fronts. For example, the population in our secure facilities has dropped to historic lows, from 1,026 youth in December 2017 to 879 today. At the same time, we have seen a 43 percent drop in major rule violations and a 54 percent decrease in violent incidences. JCOs have lowered the use of physical restraints by 26 percent and the use of OC spray by 48 percent. All of this change is promising for Texas." See coverage from the Dallas News.

Missing interrogation recording can't be used as a 'sword' against defendant
In a recent CCA ruling favoring the defense, Judge Scott Walker ruled that a partially recorded interrogation was unfair and inadmissible after the prosecutor used the failure of the state to record the conversation to accuse the defendant of lying. Wrote Walker:
Assuming, without deciding, that Appellant testified truthfully about what she told the detectives in the missing thirty minutes, support for her testimony had been lost by the State, which then used the loss to accuse Appellant of lying and making things up. Appellant’s explanations were minimized by counsel for the State, both during her testimony and in closing argument to the jury. Appellant could not prove that she had made a prior statement that was consistent with her trial testimony because any such statements had been lost through no fault of her own. By repeatedly referring to what might or might not have been said during the missing thirty minutes, the State improperly used the missing minutes as a sword against Appellant. The error in this case was material.
Too-full rural jails
Check out the Texas Public Policy Foundation's new report on overincarceration and rural jails.

Rights for me but not for thee
Here's an academic paper considering the disparity in how police are treated when being questioned over alleged criminal conduct compared to average citizens, arguing that they should be treated equally. See related Grits coverage here, and related commentary from Toby Shook here.


Anonymous said...

Re: Texas vs Flores...So the CCA found this egregious error "material" but, instead of ordering a new trial, remanded the case back to the court of appeals for a "harm analysis." Wanna bet that the court of appeals finds this to be "material but harmless" error. Any takers?

Anonymous said...

Re: Texas v. Flores...
Also, can the same be said for physical evidence that is lost or mishandled by the State? As is known, many convicted offenders seek evidence that the State has (stored) for exoneration purposes. And far too often the exculpatory evidence is 'lost' by the crime lab or police agency.

Steven Michael Seys said...

Mishandling of exculpatory evidence is too common a practice of prosecutors who want high conviction rates and couldn't care less about justice or the victims. When you convict an innocent person, not only do you add a new victim to the crime, you revictimize the original victims and empower the perpetrators.

Anonymous said...

I'd be perfectly happy for the rest of us to receive the same treatment as the cops get rather than take away any of their privileges. I find some of their reasoning to be compelling with regard to why certain things are done in a particular fashion, even if I don't always think public employees should get such perks while the rest of us should.

Unknown said...

Son was arrested at his dect.was there alone at first. Son told that dect was cussing and poking him in chest. At court the DA told judge and jury the first part of his confession was erased because dect was talking to self on way to sons house and didn't know recorder was on.son in prison now