Michael Barajas

Michael Barajas is a staff writer covering civil rights for the Observer. Before joining the Observer, he was editor of the San Antonio Current and managing editor of the Houston Press. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. You can reach him on Twitter or at [email protected].
 

The Long Tail of Voter Suppression

by | Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 7:00 am CST
Criminal Justice

Trump’s Favorite Texas Sheriff Faces Re-Election Amid a Spike in Deaths at His Jail

Conservative media have turned Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn into a right-wing celebrity despite a long list of scandals on his watch.

On May 17, a pregnant woman delivered a baby alone and locked inside her cell at the Tarrant County jail. After the Fort Worth Star-Telegram broke the story later that month, Sheriff Bill Waybourn, who manages the facility, explained in … Read More

Howard Henderson at Texas Southern University, where he is a professor of justice adminstration and the founding director of the Center for Justice Research.
Criminal Justice

Researcher Howard Henderson on Reimagining Policing in the U.S.

Henderson says policing in the U.S. perpetuates systems of inequality that mirror the nation’s history of colonialism.

The uprising sparked by the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 has pushed the debate around public safety into territory that would have seemed unthinkable in Texas just months ago. Howard Henderson, director of the Center for Justice … Read More

Demetria McFarland, left, and her sister drove through the night to visit a memorial for George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Civil Rights, Culture, News, The Issue, Topics

A Monumental Undertaking

Protests to remove racist statues and iconography are part of a larger effort to reframe Texas history.

A Monumental Undertaking Protests to remove racist statues and iconography are part of a larger effort to reframe Texas history. By Michael Barajas August 11, 2020  The party Demetria McFarland’s family throws every Juneteenth is so big they usually … Read More

Hurricane Laura pushed power lines onto cars and uprooted trees in Orange.
Environment

Running from the Storm

Hurricane Laura underscores the threat and disruption of storm seasons super-charged by climate change.

Last week, as Nathaniel Smith and his daughter boarded a school bus to drive out of the path of Hurricane Laura, he thought of the last time a storm forced them to flee. Three years ago, Smith nervously called for … Read More

In this April 16, 2020, photo a gloved hand points to a holding cell at the hospital ward of the Twin Towers jail in Los Angeles. Across the country first responders who've fallen ill from COVID-19, recovered have begun the harrowing experience of returning to jobs that put them back on the front lines of America's fight against the novel coronavirus. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Criminal Justice

When Asthma in Jail Becomes a Death Sentence

Deaths like Savion Hall’s are tragically common in Texas jails. What’s unusual are the criminal charges against the people responsible for treating him.

Growing up, Matt Santana and Savion Hall were inseparable. The two met in middle school while hanging out with mutual friends in Midland, a West Texas oil town. After realizing they lived on the same block, Hall, a year younger … Read More

The Harris County Jail
Criminal Justice

In Harris County, A Group is Working to Expand Voting Access in Jails

The lack of access for eligible voters in pretrial detention is part of a larger constellation of disenfranchisement for people whose lives intersect with the criminal legal system.

This story was published as a part of Voting Rights Day, a collaboration with the Guardian US. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, or attend one of their events. Durrel Douglas says most of the people he met during … Read More

After police in Austin shot “less-lethal” munitions at protesters in early June, injuring several people including a pregnant woman, a 16-year-old boy, and a 20-year-old college student who is expected to suffer serious brain damage, there were deafening calls for the firing of Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.
Criminal Justice

Reform vs. Rebuild: Defunding Law Enforcement in Texas

Years of activism and a legacy of police violence are fueling demands to reimagine public safety.

Reform vs. Rebuild: Defunding Law Enforcement in Texas Years of activism and a legacy of police violence are fueling demands to reimagine public safety. By Michael Barajas July 8, 2020 For Sara Mokuria, Father’s Day is an annual reminder of … Read More

parole protest
Criminal Justice

COVID-19 Has Delayed Programs That Texas Prisoners Need to Get Out

People approved for parole in the Texas prison system already waited months to start programs required for their release. Coronavirus is making some wait even longer.

Darcy Vargas says it felt like an early Christmas present when her son Gerald made parole in early December after serving more than a year in the Texas prison system for a drug charge. Once he completed a six month … Read More

Family remembers Mike Ramos, center here as a child, as a goof who always posed for photos.
Civil Rights, News

Why Protesters In Austin Are Chanting ‘Justice for Mike Ramos’

The protests sweeping Texas cities are a stark reminder of the pain caused by police violence.

Why Protesters In Austin Are Chanting ‘Justice for Mike Ramos’ The protests sweeping Texas cities are a stark reminder of the pain caused by police violence. By Michael Barajas June 5, 2020 Red rose bushes grace the lawn outside the … Read More

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