A Houston man has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for his role in a synthetic drug ring that prosecutors say led to the deaths of two men in North Dakota and Minnesota in 2012. John Robert Polinski, 26, was sentenced for his role as a "computer specialist" for an online drug importer ... More >>
"America is a country of second chances" Rick Perry said in a recent television interview. His declaration was very statesmanlike, but he was referring to himself and his possible repeat performance as a presidential candidate. If he truly believed in the concept of second chances, things might be ... More >>
Robert James Campbell, whose 1991 murder conviction in Harris County sent him to death row, won't die tonight (and won't be long on death row if his lawyers can help it). A U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judge issued a stay of execution so that Campbells' lawyers could work on an appeal. The ju ... More >>
While the United States decides their fate, asylum seekers sit in immigration detention.
According to a report from the Death Penalty Information Center, there have been only 39 executions in the United States this year, only the second time that number has been below 40 since 1994 and down 4 from last year's 43. This is additionally a decline of 60 percent since 1999 and the number of ... More >>
The 7th Amendment to the Constitution allows for the right to a jury trial. The 8th Amendment prohibits "cruel and unusual punishments." A new report by Human Rights Watch shows that federal criminal defendants, especially those charged with drug crimes, are having their constitutional rights arguab ... More >>
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has denied Duane Buck's appeal for a new sentencing, meaning an execution date can be set if the Harris County District Attorney's Office chooses to seek an execution date. Buck was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 1997 for the murders of his ex-girlfrie ... More >>
It's one thing to be the people that make the drugs used in lethal injections, but it's a horse of a different color for other people to know about it. At least that's what Hair Balls gathers from the reaction of the head of the Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy after it was revealed that his company ... More >>
Texas, the state with the most executions under its belt since reinstating the death penalty in 1976, is solving a shortage on execution drugs by having a Houston compounding pharmacy make the drugs required for lethal injection, according to the Associated Press. Texas and other death penalty stat ... More >>
Harris County is responsible for 115 executions since 1976 -- by far the highest driver of capital punishment -- but taxpayers statewide have to bear the burden of the costly appeals process, according to a new study by an anti-death penalty group. The Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Informati ... More >>
There are a number of legitimate criticisms that can be levied at the American Bar Association: it has accredited far too many law schools such that there are more lawyers than there are jobs, it can be self important and it skews towards the "elites" in the legal profession. That said, it is still ... More >>
The Houston Police Department is investigating how the city's crime victims' advocate obtained a prisoner's confidential disciplinary record and used the information to try to thwart the prisoner's parole. KTRK's Ted Oberg has been kicking all kinds of ass over Andy Kahan's alleged misconduct, whic ... More >>
Some McAllen residents are opposing plans for a 1,000 bed federal detention center that could potentially be run by private prison company GEO Group, which has a track record of abuse, mismanagement, and losing track of sex offenders in its Houston halfway house. According to The Monitor, "the deal ... More >>
Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling could be released from prison as early as 2017, thanks to a federal judge's approval Friday of a sentencing agreement Skilling and prosecutors hashed out in May, the Chronicle reports. Skilling "had more than 10 years cut off his 24-year prison sentence" for securiti ... More >>
It's one of America's worst-kept secrets. In a nation that purports to be the freest in the world -- save for when it comes to, say, gay marriage or drug usage -- the United States also boasts far and away the highest incarceration of not simply any developed nation, but of any country in the entire ... More >>
During Duane Buck's 1997 murder trial in Harris County, a psychologist told the jury that Buck was more likely to be a danger to society because he was black. This would be a huge deal in pretty much any legal situation, but the statement had more direct life or death ramifications in Buck's trial ... More >>
Not to brag, but I've got a copy of the new Hates album, People's Temple, and it is (as usual) a fantastic little CD that every punk fan in Houston should own. We're still waiting on a confirmed release party at Cactus, but before that happens there's a song on the disc we want to talk about, "Do th ... More >>
Nothing earns an musician instant street cred quite like a night or two in the pokey. It's basically a rite of passage -- a guarantee that if you sign up for the public eye, you will, indeed, screw it up at least once in order to delight us with your antics. From the likes of good ol' boys like Mer ... More >>
Lesley Pehrigo's career as a sex offender seems odd and details are sketchy. But if online records are correct, she went to prison for indecency with a child -- a four-year-old child. The incident, of which there aren't many details handy, happened in 1999. She did her time and got out. On Friday ... More >>
Anyone who has watched TV knows that prisons are seriously screwed up places. They call them "correctional facilities," but very few believe much is being corrected inside the walls. And if you believe TV and movies, prison guards are often corrupt bullies who just want to kick prisoners asses and t ... More >>
For ten years, a Houston attorney told friends and prospective investors he was involved in real estate investment. But the money collected merely fed a Ponzi scheme that federal prosecutors say cost more than 20 victims $7.8 million. On Friday, Davis was sentenced to ten years in prison after he pl ... More >>
The paroled murderer of the owner of a famous, long-lived Texas Gulf Coast beer joint is dead, apparently at his own hand after killing his girlfriend in their Victoria apartment. 51-year-old Bennie Ray Dupnik Jr. and 44-year-old Sandra Rivera were discovered by Rivera's sons. Rivera had been stab ... More >>
In June 2009, Chris Vogel wrote our story "For Their Own Good," detailing the problems created when teens are left in solitary confinement in jail for up to 23 hours a day. We'd like to think we made an impact -- well, we had some effect in Harris County, which is what we concentrated on -- but as ... More >>
During Monday's sentencing hearing for Brian Kerstetter, the 33-year-old white male who was found guilty of targeting a random African-American man at a downtown Houston bus stop, the prison-bound Kerstetter couldn't help himself from blasting a certain loved/loathed NFL franchise. "I'm not a hate ... More >>
Two men received stiff sentences for running an illegal-immigrant smuggling business that was exposed when a Toyota Tundra carrying 17 of their clients crashed, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston announced today. Rafael Valles, "a.k.a. El Viejo or Rafa," and Refugio Reyna-Huerta, "a.k.a. Cuco," ... More >>
Talk about every parent's nightmare...Police in Coryell County say that a nine-year-old autistic Abilene boy was molested at a rural Central Texas bluegrass festival. Charged with the crime is registered sex offender Bryan Ray Roe, a parolee from an earlier sex offense. Roe, 33, allegedly lured the ... More >>
Texas is still doing its partAmerica, you just ain't the criminal-killin' place you used to be. A new report from the Death Penalty Information Center says that for the first time since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, less than 100 executions took place in the U.S. There have bee ... More >>
An expired inspection sticker led to fresh arrests for five of Longview's most frequently busted miscreants Friday. Police say that 48-year-old Howard "Cowboy" Perkins and 47-year-old Clifton Ardry were stopped while riding in a pickup near the home of 54-year-old, Biblically bearded George Cliffor ... More >>
FacebookCharles Cannon won't face hate-crime charges.In a crime that hearkened back to the skinhead days of the early '90s, or modern-day Dallas, four white men remain behind bars today charged with assaulting a black man at a downtown bus stop early Sunday morning. Police want the incident c ... More >>
Kenneth Randle: See ya in 2022A 23-year-old man who sat unarmed as the driver of a bank-robbery car has been sentenced to 11 years without parole mostly, it seems, because his colleagues were violent a-holes. During the $40,000 robbery last October, the three dudes he was working with physic ... More >>
"Frenchfry": Charged with killing an elderly man taking out the garbageTwo months ago, Illinois police used a fingerprint to arrest a man for the 1988 rape of a 12-year-old girl in Orange County, Texas. In another OC-related cold case, police in Orange County last week arrested Frank Ulysses ... More >>
Finally, a chat with our cover subject.
Pay no attention to those men smuggling weedBeing the chief of police in the Valley's Sullivan City is no doubt a prestigious position, but it does have its temptations. And former chief Hernan Guerra admitted to a federal judge that he gave in to them, working busily to make sure no one cau ... More >>
Mandy OaklanderJohn Kinsel sells his wares at the Angola Prison Rodeo.Dooney & Bourke knockoff purses and stainless steel crosses line a long row of picnic tables at the Angola Prison Rodeo craft sale. The artisans wait close behind in a parallel craggy row, separated from their wares by a ch ... More >>
Death Row cases take another hit.George C. Denkowski, the forensic psychologist who's been driving capital-murder defense lawyers crazy for years, is no longer allowed to send convicts to Death Row. Denkowski was reprimanded by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and agreed n ... More >>
This week's feature tells the story of John Kinsel, a man who will spend the rest of his life locked up at Angola Prison for a crime his accuser has since said he didn't commit. Alyssa Medlin testified as a nine-year-old that Kinsel -- her mother's boyfriend -- had raped her for years. The gi ... More >>
Does Cleve Foster deserve a death at least as humane as that of a lizard? The ACLU thinks so.The pets of those on death row would be treated more humanely than their owners, if the animals were sitting in the execution chamber instead of them. According to a report released by the American C ... More >>
Despite a history of abuse and bad conditions, private prison corporation GEO keeps getting contracts from the state.
She ain't getting as much use as she's used toHarris County, you used to be cool. You sent more people to Death Row than most countries. And were damn proud of it, too. Now, the death penalty is a forgotten memory of another time, the go-go `80s and `90s when brash prosecutors racked up exec ... More >>
Paul Broussard's killer, up for parole, may not be model prisoner.
Former Geto Boy Willie D, aka William Dennis, has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison on wire fraud charges, the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of Texas announced today. Judge Gray Miller also ordered Willie D to pay nearly $200,000 in restitution to the buy ... More >>
Photo by Craig MalisowDavid Kaczynski hasn't heard from Ted latelyOnce you become forever known as "The Unabomber's Brother," there are probably two ways you can go: you can do your best to hide (say, maybe move to a cozy, isolated cabin in Montana?) or you can use your position to further a caus ... More >>
Harris County Jail, looking pristeneThe on-again-off-again court battle to allow Harris County prison inmates to obtain copies of their own medical records while behind bars is starting to steam up once more.In one corner there is Matthew Collazo, who has been sentenced to prison for jumping bond ... More >>
The U.S. Department of Justice recently released a report about state prison populations, and Texas was one of six states with large decreases in the number of people incarcerated. These numbers continue, the report says, "the trend of slower growth observed in the prison population since 2 ... More >>
Texas doesn't make rookie mistakes when it comes to the death penaltyThe Arizona Republic reports today that a planned execution in Ohio almost had to delay a recent execution because of a shortage of thiopental sodium, the drug used for lethal injections. Arizona, it said, might be unable to do ... More >>
Courtesy of Montgomery County Sheriff's OfficeA former psychologist with the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, who evaluated defendants in close to 1,000 criminal cases during his time with the agency, recently pled guilty to Medicaid fraud. Matthew Leddy, the ... More >>
Photo by Katharine ShilcuttA death penalty protest march was held last week in downtown Austin.In its 2009 Death Penalty and Executions report released today, Amnesty International calls Texas the "worst offender," because -- with 24 executions -- it leads the country in the number of people ... More >>
Plus: Big new park for Montrose?
Some injured parties in Harris County say plea bargains go on behind their backs and without their approval.