Houston Matters

Checking in On Changes to the State’s Sex Offender Agency

Posted on · The state agency responsible for supervising, monitoring and providing treatment for the most violent sex offenders in Texas has been undergoing some sweeping changes in the past year. Among the challenges the revamped Office of Violent Sex Offender Management was facing included: a shortage of housing for offenders once released from prison, and a perception that the […]

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HPD Shootings, Sunnyside, and Olivewood: Wednesday’s Show (February 17, 2016)

Posted on · Officer-involved civilian shootings have been under greater scrutiny in recent years, after several high-profile cases nationwide. But what about closer to home? According to data recently analyzed by the Houston Chronicle, over the last six years, Houston Police Department officers have shot at least 274 civilians while on duty. On this edition of Houston Matters, […]

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Sheriff Hickman and the Harris County Jail: Wednesday’s Show (February 10, 2016)

Posted on · Sheriff Ron Hickman was recently criticized for reducing internal jail inspectors and disbanding a proactive internal affairs squad at the Harris County Jail. The Harris County Sheriff’s office has said that these changes could actually speed up investigations, and the reassignment of inspectors will put more responsibility on first-line jail supervisors. And these are just a […]

Houston Matters

Investigative Series Looks at Conditions and Treatment Inside the Harris County Jail

Posted on · Throughout 2015, Houston Chronicle reporters have reviewed more than a thousand disciplinary reports at the Harris County Jail and found guards used excessive force or abused their authority more than 120 times. While in about half of the cases where jail staff were disciplined (ranging from 2010 to the spring of 2015) they’ve rarely been fired […]

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Harris County Jail and World’s Largest Volcano: Tuesday’s Show (December 15, 2015)

Posted on · Throughout 2015, Houston Chronicle reporters have reviewed more than a thousand disciplinary reports at the Harris County Jail and found guards used excessive force or abused their authority more than 120 times. While in about half of the cases where jail staff were disciplined (ranging from 2010 to the spring of 2015) they’ve rarely been fired […]

Houston Matters

When it Comes to Criminals, What is Society Willing to Forgive?

Posted on · When it comes to crime, what is our society willing — and not willing — to forgive and what does it mean for folks (like ex-convicts) who seek that forgiveness after paying their debts? We explore the concept of forgiveness with Tamler Sommers, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of […]

Houston Matters

Report: Expanding Drug Diversion Programs Would Improve Safety and Save Tax Dollars

Posted on · A new report from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition suggests there are economic and social benefits to expanding Harris County’s drug diversion programs. To explain, we talk with one of the authors of that report, Jay Jenkins. He’s the coalition’s project attorney for Harris County. The Harris County DA’s office is implementing a “First Chance Intervention Program” […]

Houston Matters

Officials: Bail System Contributes to Overcrowded Jails

Posted on · We explore recent calls for comprehensive bail reform. Some argue judges under the current system are contributing to overcrowded jails by setting bonds too high, leaving defendants accused of low-level crimes who may pose no flight risk or threat to society imprisoned, simply because they can’t afford to post bail. We talk it over with […]

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Oil and Gas in 25 Years, and Arian Foster: Tuesday’s Show (September 29, 2015)

Posted on · Last night (Sept. 28, 2015) Houston Texans’ running back Arian Foster and some of his teammates served customers at Morton’s Steakhouse to raise money for Foster’s foundation, which aims to teach inner-city kids how to have a better life by focusing on food, family and finance. It’s a subject that’s very personal to Foster, as […]

Houston Matters

Does Texas’ New Grand Jury Law Go Far Enough?

Posted on · Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new law changing how grand juries are selected in Texas. Previously, judge-appointed commissioners picked grand jurors in a system sometimes referred to as “pick-a-pal.” Critics said the commissioners tended to select jurors who share their backgrounds, making it less likely grand juries would reflect the diversity of their […]

Houston Matters

Sam Houston State Marks 50 Years as a Leader in Criminal Justice Studies

Posted on · Fifty years ago George Beto, the director of the Texas Department of Corrections and Arleigh Templeton, then president of Sam Houston State College, lobbied the Texas Legislature to establish an Institute of Contemporary Corrections and Behavioral Science. This program would aim to lead the nation in the study of criminology, corrections and behavioral research. Today, […]

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Grade Inflation and Visiting The Heights: Wednesday’s Show (May 20, 2015)

Posted on · Earlier this month, internal HISD auditors confirmed the now-fired principal of Westbury High School ordered failing grades in a reading class to be raised to a B. Jason Catchings is appealing the dismissal. (His attorney told Fox 26 that Catchings was operating under orders from a superior, and then told the Houston Chronicle the changes were intended to […]