Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Texas voters think justice system rigged for the wealthy, NY Times reporting repeats forensics fail, pay to play in Harris County juvie appointments?, and other stories

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

State should end practice of letting untrained guards work in jails
Untrained jailers legally working on probation status at the privately managed Parker County Jail  were involved in the violent death of an inmate. Excellent story, go read it. The Texas Legislature should close the loophole allowing jailers to work in county jails before they've received training. They should have to fulfill training requirements before being put on the line, just like police officers must complete the police academy before being deployed in the field.

Texas voters think justice system rigged for the wealthy
Voters support bail reform, says a new poll, which also found that "90 percent of registered Texas voters are dissatisfied with the criminal justice system overall and 55 percent want a complete overhaul or major change." Further, "81 percent of Texas registered voters believe the wealthy enjoy substantially better outcomes in the criminal justice than poor and working-class people."

Pay to play in Harris juvie appointments?
The feds are investigating the Harris County juvenile justice system, zeroing in on potential "pay to play" relationships between criminal defense lawyers receiving appointments and judges receiving their campaign contributions. Readers may recall that just two judges in Harris County account for 20 percent of all juvenile commitments to Texas youth prisons.

NY Times reporter repeats HouChron failures in ballistics coverage
This New York Times story on ballistics matching made many of the exact same errors as did a Houston Chronicle story I'd criticized last month: Failing to acknowledge the lack of standards or any scientific basis for the practice. I commented on the article in a brief Twitter thread.

Charting new paths for District Attorney offices
Progressive District Attorneys elected around the country in the last couple of cycles are pioneering new approaches to reducing mass incarceration offices. For example:
One third of deaths in Illinois prisons were preventable with adequate healthcare
After following the issue of deaths-in-custody for many years, your correspondent believes lots more people die in Texas prisons from preventable ailments due to inadequate healthcare than are killed in the state's execution chamber. But because the system controls all information about healthcare, it's a difficult assertion to prove. In Illinois, litigation pushed the issue to the point where a federal court commissioned an independent expert to assess the situation. They found one-third of deaths in custody in that state were preventable with adequate healthcare. Here's the expert's report. IMO, a similar assessment in Texas would likely yield similar or worse results.


Nanny1105 said...

Hello, could you please email me back have a inmate that would like to send you a letter. I cant find a address to send to them .

Steven Michael Seys said...

RE: Deaths in prison are preventable...
In 2007, I suffered an attack of biliary pancreatitis that nearly killed me. The nurses in the Coffield infirmary not only failed to diagnose the issue, they accused me of malingering and told me there was nothing wrong with me. I only discovered that the cause of my malaise at that time was pancreatitis and potentially lethal when last month I suffered another attack and had an MRI that showed the damage left by the eleven year old attack. I am currently awaiting the VA to remove my gall bladder.

Anonymous said...

Not just in Texas but in this entire country, you get the justice you can afford to buy! If your poor, you can forget justice.

Anonymous said...

You can change "think" to "know"