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Judicial Latitude, Women’s Health, and Construction Safety: Tuesday’s Show (August 2, 2016)

When former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa was sentenced last month (July 18, 2016) to 46 months in prison for repeatedly illegally logging into the Houston Astros’ computer database, reaction was swift – and, in some cases, surprising. As the scandal was already well documented, many skipped taking Correa rightly to task for […]

Photo: Derek Stokely, Houston Public MediaWhen former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa was sentenced last month (July 18, 2016) to 46 months in prison for repeatedly illegally logging into the Houston Astros’ computer database, reaction was swift – and, in some cases, surprising.

As the scandal was already well documented, many skipped taking Correa rightly to task for what he admitted to doing, and instead focused on how his sentence was so much stiffer than other high-profile convictions in the sports world, like the sexual assault conviction which garnered former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner just six months in prison.

They’re completely different cases, of course. Before different judges, in different jurisdictions and with different parameters in place. Still, the comparison is stark and prompts us to wonder: just how much latitude do judges have today in the sentences they hand out in criminal convictions? What are the factors that determine one sentence versus another?

On this edition of Houston Matters, we ask Sandra Guerra Thompson, a professor of law and director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law Center.

Also this hour:

Digging Into the Latest Texas Women’s Health Program

Last month (July 1, 2016), Texas launched a new program touted to help more women obtain free or low-cost healthcare. It’s the latest in a series of moves since the state cut off funding for organizations (like Planned Parenthood) linked to abortion providers five years ago. More than 80 clinics closed — a third of them affiliated with Planned Parenthood. This also meant federal Medicaid dollars were cut off. So Texas funded its own Texas Women’s Health program in 2013, which was combined with another program this summer to become “Healthy Texas Women.” The new program now offers family planning, immunizations, cholesterol and hypertension screening, along with treatment for post-partum depression and diabetes — a one-stop shop of sorts. But the moves of the last five years have resulted in a nearly nine percent decrease in women enrolled in the program and a drop of almost 17 percent in contraceptive claims.

Paige Phelps talks with Lesley French, the associate commissioner for women’s health services at the state’s Health and Human Services Commission. Then, we welcome your questions and comments for Helen Valier, who directs the Medicine and Society Program at the University of Houston, and Dr. Ann Barnes, chief medical officer at Legacy Community Health Services.

How To Improve Safety for Texas Construction Workers

Worker’s Defense Fund, a Texas organization “working to address workplace abuse faced by low-wage workers,” says Texas is the most dangerous state to work in for construction — with the highest fatality rate in the country. Their 2016 study, The Price of Inaction, says “every day, at least 15 workers become ill or are seriously injured on Texas construction sites,” and that “a construction worker is killed in the state every three days.” Rice Design Alliance’s magazine CITE used data from this organization for an article to dig in to construction worker woes, which also include payroll fraud and low wages and asked what could be done to change the situation. We learn more from Allyn West,  assistant director of The Rice Design Alliance, and Chuck Gremillion, executive director of C3, a.k.a. the Construction Career Collaborative, a self-described alliance of “socially responsible” owners and contractors.

Houston Author Pens Novel About World War II War Bride

The French War Bride is a new book from Houston author Robin Wells. It’s a fictional story of how a young woman was able to escape Nazi-occupied France during World War II by marrying a U.S. Army doctor and coming to America as a war bride. Houston Matters producer Maggie Martin sits down with Wells to talk about her book.

Houston Matters offers a free daily, downloadable podcast here, on iTunes, Stitcher and various other podcasting apps.

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