Monday, October 22, 2018

The least-discussed vulnerable Republican on the ballot, stop revoking people to prison for pot, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention today:

The least-discussed vulnerable Republican on the ballot
Grits does not expect Beto O'Rourke to win. But if he were to pull off the upset, many other dominos could fall in succession as a result, with at least three Republican senators, Texas' Attorney General, and potentially even the Lt. Governor at risk. Another race likely to flip if Dem turnout goes that high is Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Incumbent Sharon Keller won her primary with only 52% of the vote, and CCA races have consistently been among the lowest vote-getters over the years among Republican statewide officials. There is no Libertarian in the race, so the Democrat, Maria Jackson, should get all the anti-incumbent vote. If, on election night, the US Senate race at the top of the ticket is competitive, or heaven forbid, Beto pulls an upset, check down the ballot for this race; it may flip, too.

Predictions on #cjreform in 2019 #txlege
A panel in Dallas made predictions on #cjreform in the coming Texas legislative session at a gathering at the Belo mansion.

Stop revoking people to prison for pot
On Twitter, former House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden suggested that Texas stop revoking people being supervised on probation and parole when they test positive for marijuana. The recommendation comes on the heels of five former New York probation commissioners, including our pal Vinny Schiraldi, recommending that the state stop drug testing and revoking probationers for marijuana. Not only are people revoked for testing positive for pot, many may abscond rather than come in and take a test, further contributing to unnecessary "technical" supervision revocations.

Calls for marijuana reform from all quarters
This op ed in the Houston Chronicle argues that diversion programs are not enough to reduce incarceration for marijuana possession. Grits agrees. Either the Lege should reduce penalties from a Class B to a Class C misdemeanor, as Gov. Abbott has suggested, or create a new civil penalty for marijuana that avoids collateral consequences, as the state GOP platform recommended. Look for one of those two proposals to pass in 2019.

Combating opioid addiction on the medical front
An SA Express News column by a doc from the Baylor College of Medicine called on the state's Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board to expand access to anti-addiction medication. He also added recommendations for the Legislature to address the problem.

Them again
Two judges in Harris County are responsible for 20 percent of all youth prison commitments statewide, the Houston Chronicle's Keri Blakinger reported.

Family pleas for justice
A family has filed a federal civil rights suit against League City police after the alleged wrongful death of their son, who was shot in the back and stabbed in the incident that led to his death.

Texas can't execute schizophrenic man
Texas has seen a rash of scheduled executions delayed, primarily for two reasons: Erroneous forensics exposed by Texas' junk science writ, and SCOTUS overturning Texas' outdated standards over executing mentally ill and developmentally disabled defendants. The latest execution to be put off falls in the latter category.

The Guilty Plea Problem
The national Innocence Project has put up a new website called "The Guilty Plea Problem." Texas' Clay Chabot case is prominently featured.

The Eyewitness ID Problem
Eyewitnesses are more likely to pick the wrong person if fillers aren't chosen which look similar to the suspect.

Challenges to license revocation, jail over traffic fines
A federal judge in Tennessee said that state couldn't revoke people's driver licenses for non-payment of fines and fees. Might such a precedent eventually apply to Texas in the 5th Circuit? Here in the Lone Star State, the platforms of both major political parties this year endorsed an end to arrests for non-payment of Class C/traffic fines, so the collateral consequences of traffic-fine enforcement are being challenged on multiple fronts.

Defining a 'progressive prosecutor'
As he has from the beginning of his term, Philadelphia's Larry Krasner has been defining what it means to be a progressive prosecutor in the 21st century. The New Yorker has a feature on his tenure so far. Krasner's good work has even surpassed the hopes of academic prognosticators regarding what prosecutors can do to reduce mass incarceration.

For the reading pile
Here are a handful of academic articles that go on the to-read pile:


SOFAQ said...

Thanks for another great Blog to help promote the human rights and constitutional rights of Texans. Another great Grits For Breakfast day and another great day for Texas.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you do, Grits, don't try to hide your giddiness at the prospect of Sharon Keller losing. Jeez...

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Please quote back to me the line that comes off to you as "giddy," 5:24. What I wrote is true whether one supports or opposes her. Also note, since I began the item declaring I expect Beto to lose, ipso facto, I expect Sharon Keller to win. This brief paragraph was an exploration of the world of possibilities in which my own expectations turn out to be in error.

I like Sharon Keller. She's smart, generally well-intentioned, she's a strong writer, she does a good job running both the court and the Indigent Defense Commission, and I find her both gracious and endearing on a personal level. We just disagree on some stuff. Some big stuff. Occasionally, vehemently. And to her great credit, she's never seemed to hold that against me. Unlike certain anonymous blog commenters, who seem to hold everything against me. C'est la vie.

Anonymous said...

Jail for pot? Well what do you expect from a country that was founded by religious fruitcakes that called themselves the "Puritans."

The police should chase those that owe Texas about 5 billion in uncollected child support-----here in El Paso they have learned to beat the gringo computer systems have getting Juarez license plates and licenses.