Texas Matters: The United States is ranked next to Iran and Hungary in maternal death rate worldwide, a surprising position for a country proud of its modern medicine. So what is causing this and what can be done to make birth safer for women and babies? Also on this show: Fast-food workers protest for increased wages and an Austin couple is appealing the ruling in their "satanic ritual" case.
Signed into law by the governor earlier this year, SB 344 becomes active next week. The law will allow the convicted to appeal based on new scientific evidence that may contradict earlier forensic expert testimony.
Many kinds of cases have been overturned due to what defense lawyers call "junk science" -- from dog-scent lineups as in the case of Megan Winfrey, or other types of evidence once thought to prove arson.
This week San Antonio District Judge Robert "Bert" Richardson named area attorney Michael McCrum as the special prosecutor in the criminal complainant against Gov. Rick Perry.
"We’re too early to say there is going to be a trial in this matter," McCrum said. "Just because a complaint has been filed by a citizen doesn’t mean there is actually a prosecution in place. It’s my responsibility to look into the matter and decide if something went wrong, something that needs to be addressed in criminal court and whether or not charges need to be filed."
A water supply shortage in the town of Kenedy, Texas is depriving the local state prison of water and creating dangerous condition for the inmates and guards.
In Kenedy, Texas, a town 75 miles southeast of San Antonio, two of the town’s five water wells broke down last week,creating a water shortage for the community and is impacting the nearby John B. Connally Unit prison.
Prisoners have been given a limited supply of drinking water and have had to ration their water, go without showers and are prevented from flushing toilets.
Last week the special session of the Texas legislature passed a bill that would institute mandatory minimums for 17 year olds convicted of capital murder.
The state of Texas has mandatory minimums for several crimes including murder, but has avoided some of the most controversial mandatory minimums with nonviolent drug offenses. States like Florida and Massachusettes have seen their prison populations swell with these nonviolent offenders.
On the surface, the bill by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, seems complex, but she said it essentially brings Texas in compliance with last year's Supreme Court ruling that found sentencing 17 year olds to a life sentence without parole was unconstitutional.
Since Texas treats 17 year olds as adults and allowed life without parole, that came in conflict with the Supreme Court ruling. This new law would mean that 17 year olds will face a mandatory maximum that is in line with 14 and 16 year olds.
Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 4:55 pm
Filmmaker Jamie Meltzer thought he’d just go check out a Dallas meeting for prison exonerees last February. He’d heard a group of freed inmates had started a detective agency, which sounded like pretty good film fodder. Meltzer showed up, met the guys and started shooting that day.
Bexar County employees have completed the first phase of uploading court records to the Internet. The county's database is now available for anyone to search for court documents filed with the district clerk or the county clerk’s offices.