The Observer identified at least nine Texas counties where current prison cases make up more than 10 percent of the total COVID-19 cases in the county.
COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in Texas prisons in recent weeks, with the virus infecting and killing incarcerated people and staff, and likely spreading into nearby communities through the thousands of workers who travel back and forth each day. Yet some … Read More
An investigation into allegations of racism against a former top cop points to deeper problems of bias and retaliation at the Austin Police Department.
In December, following the abrupt resignation of an assistant police chief accused of using racial slurs on the job, Austin’s city council launched an investigation to be conducted by San Antonio lawyer Lisa Tatum to determine whether higher-ups at the … Read More
Texas Had a State Office That Could Have Investigated Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Cases. Lawmakers Defunded it Three Years Ago.
While early reports elsewhere show African Americans disproportionately infected and dying from COVID-19, Texas’ data is incomplete.
In 2005, faced with data showing that black and Native American families were overrepresented in Texas’ child welfare system, lawmakers ordered Child Protective Services (CPS) to study whether staff treated any racial or ethnic groups more harshly than others. The … Read More
Abbott’s executive order blocking jail releases during a pandemic highlights conservative opposition to the growing movement to end wealth-based detention in Texas.
On March 26, 15 people incarcerated in the massive jail looming over Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston wrote a joint letter predicting a “catastrophic outbreak” of the novel coronavirus if officials didn’t act fast to lower the inmate population. The … Read More
How comments from Trump, Cruz, and Cornyn inflame deep-seated prejudices against Asian Americans, further alienating them.
Jose L. Gomez, a 19-year-old charged with three counts of attempted capital murder, allegedly wanted to kill an Asian American family that included two young children because he thought they were Chinese and “infecting people with coronavirus.” A recent FBI … Read More
Families of Sick Prisoners Plead for Compassionate Release as Coronavirus Spreads Behind Bars in Texas
Advocates for incarcerated people are urging Governor Abbott to release parole-eligible people who are elderly or have chronic illnesses.
Justin Phillips’ health started deteriorating soon after police arrested him on drug charges in 2016. He grew gravely ill while waiting for his court date at the Smith County jail in Tyler, and doctors diagnosed him with kidney disease. Now, … Read More
Fearing spread of coronavirus, some sheriffs are calling on police to stop arresting and jailing people on low-level charges—a step reformers have been pushing for years.
Last week, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Texas rose, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner urged local police to think twice about who they arrest and bring to his jail. In his letter to local law enforcement officials, … Read More
How voter suppression, poor planning, incendiary rhetoric, and fear of coronavirus could erode public confidence in elections.
Primary voters in some parts of Texas waited in punishingly long lines to cast a ballot last Tuesday. A surge in Democratic voter turnout overwhelmed many polling places on university campuses, as well as other locations serving communities of color … Read More
Democratic Voters Surge in Texas Primary, Waiting in Punishingly Long Lines as Officials Struggle to Keep Up
Grueling wait times stretched hours past closing time at polling locations across Texas. One voter in Houston waited nearly seven hours to cast his ballot.
One of the biggest and most disturbing storylines to emerge on Super Tuesday wasn’t about any top-of-the-ticket race, but rather the shockingly long wait times as some Texas polling locations struggled to keep up with increased turnout. According to the … Read More