Houston Matters

How Do You Make Grand Juries in Harris County More Diverse?

Posted on · Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson wants to see a change in how grand juries are selected. Grand juries of 12 people determine whether enough evidence exists to formally charge a suspect with a crime. Currently in Texas, judges are tasked with impaneling them, but it’s a time-consuming process. So, some name friends as “grand […]

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Grand Jury System and Pet Care: Monday’s show (February 23, 2015)

Posted on · Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson wants to see a change in how grand juries are selected. Grand juries of 12 people determine whether enough evidence exists to formally charge a suspect with a crime. Currently in Texas, judges are tasked with impaneling them, but it’s a time-consuming process. So, some name friends as “grand […]

Houston Matters

Why Were There So Many Criminal Exonerations in Harris County Last Year?

Posted on · An annual report from the National Registry of Exonerations reveals a record number of exonerations in the U.S. last year — 125 of them, in fact. That’s nearly a 40 percent increase over 2012 and 2013. Plus 33 of those exonerations came in drug cases in Harris County. Houston Matters’ Maggie Martin talks with Samuel Gross, […]

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Wrongful Convictions & Living Car Free: Tuesday’s Show (February 17, 2015)

Posted on · We posed this question to you last year: is it possible to live in Houston without a car? Some Houstonians would characterize such an idea as pure folly. There’s too much of Houston that isn’t walkable, too much that’s too far away from public transportation to make life in Houston manageable without a car. But […]

Houston Matters

Is Truancy a Matter for Criminal Courts?

Posted on · Texas and Wyoming are the only U.S. states that will prosecute kids in adult criminal court for failing to attend school. Opponents of Texas’ truancy law characterize it not as a way to properly address truancy but rather the establishment of dropout courts. Lawmakers sought to change the system in 2013; Governor Perry vetoed legislation […]

Houston Matters

Majority Of African-Americans In Houston Feel Criminal Justice System Is Biased

Posted on · There’s been an ongoing national conversation about race, discrimination and justice sparked by the recent high profile killings of black men in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City. Here in Houston, a majority of the African-American community feels that there’s a bias against them in the criminal justice system. That’s according to the latest survey […]

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Hazlewood Act, Missing Persons, and Chris Field: Tuesday’s show (February 3, 2015)

Posted on · The Hazlewood Act in Texas provides veterans (and some children of veterans) exemptions from some tuition and fee charges at public colleges and universities here. It’s awarded regardless of financial need. But historically, it has required the veteran to be a resident of Texas at enlistment. That wasn’t the case for Keith Harris. He enlisted before […]

Houston Matters

Michael Morton: An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace

Posted on · In 1986, Michael Morton’s wife, Christine, was murdered in their home just outside Austin, while he was away at work. Morton quickly became the prime suspect in the case and was eventually convicted of the murder, despite not much physical evidence. He was sentenced to life in prison. Nearly 25 years later, after attorneys from […]

Houston Matters

How Overworked are Texas Court-Appointed Attorneys?

Posted on · You’ve heard this part of the Miranda rights before (if not in person, then at least on TV crime dramas): “You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you…” Well, a lot of defendants can’t afford attorneys. That’s where public defenders come in, and sometimes private […]

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Indigent Caseloads, Michael Morton, and Third Ward Mural: Houston Matters for Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015

Posted on · You’ve heard this part of the Miranda rights before (if not in person, then at least on TV crime dramas): “You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you…” Well, a lot of defendants can’t afford attorneys. That’s where public defenders come in, and sometimes private […]

Houston Matters

Are Privatized Prisons A Good Idea?

Posted on · Earlier this month, allegations of sexual abuse surfaced at a South Texas detention center for mothers and children fleeing violence and persecution in Central America. The Karnes City facility is run by a private, for-profit operator based in Florida, which strongly denies the allegations. The claims come four months after the ACLU issued a report alleging thousands of non-citizens are […]

Houston Matters

Advocates for and Against the Death Penalty Make Their Case

Posted on · Nine people have been executed in the state of Texas in 2014. Two more are scheduled for execution later this month. While eleven executions would be, by far, the most in any state in 2014, it’s also the fewest in Texas since 1996. Why? Are attitudes changing towards the death penalty in Texas? Are we intentionally […]

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Rethinking Marijuana Possession Penalties and Transitional Artifacts: Houston Matters for Friday, August 8, 2014

Posted on · A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union reported Harris County had one of the highest rates of marijuana arrests in 2010. Nearly 12,000 people in Harris County were busted for pot possession. Getting caught with even a little bit of marijuana in Texas is going to cost you. Possessing two ounces or less […]