Nate Blakeslee

Senior editor Nate Blakeslee joined the staff in 2006. He is the author of Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town, a book based on a story he broke in 2000 about a police corruption scandal in the Texas Panhandle. His original story, for the Texas Observer, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award, the magazine industry’s highest honor, and led to follow-up coverage in the national and international media. In 2001 Blakeslee was named a finalist for the Livingston Young Journalist Award, and in 2004 he won the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award for his drug war reporting in the Observer. Blakeslee’s reporting on Tulia eventually resulted in a major reorganization of the state’s drug enforcement bureaucracy and the exoneration of some three dozen wrongfully convicted individuals. The book, which was supported by a Soros Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Institute, was featured on a number of year-end lists of best books and was named a Notable Book of 2005 by the New York Times. It won the J. Anthony Lukas book prize and the Texas Institute of Letters best book of nonfiction prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for first nonfiction. In 2007, while Blakeslee was a contributing writer for the Observer, he broke the story of sexual misconduct at a Texas Youth Commission prison for juveniles in the West Texas town of Pyote. The events described in the award-winning story became a major scandal and led to the firing or resignation of virtually all of the agency’s top officials in Austin and the indictment of two former officials at the prison. Blakeslee was recognized by the Texas Legislature for his reporting on the story. He was born and raised in Arlington and has a master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, where his field of study was the civil rights movement. He lives in Austin with his wife, Karen Poff, and their two children.


It Takes a Thief

Filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe discusses Evolution of a Criminal, a riveting work of self-examination.

Where Are the Videos?

If the Border Patrol really wants to be more transparent, it should release key surveillance footage of questionable shooting incidents.

This Land Is Your Land, Until Dallas Needs It

How a big chunk of East Texas might end up underwater to keep Dallas swimming in growth potential.

Who Will Watch the Watchers?

Heightened security measures along the border—including a dramatic increase in personnel and highly sophisticated military equipment—have made that part of our state resemble a war zone. As violent clashes with Mexican citizens increase, a crucial question emerges: Who will hold the U.S. Border Patrol accountable?

This Silverado Fought the Law, and the Law Won

Why are Texas police officers confiscating property from people who haven’t committed a crime?

Why Fewer Prisons Are Good for Texas’s Economy

Marc Levin, the director of the Center for Effective Justice and co-founder of Right on Crime, makes the fiscal conservative’s argument for closing correctional facilities.

Below the Surface

The Legislature was looking in the wrong place when it tried to solve the state’s water crisis.

How to Get a Teenager to Admit to a Murder He Didn’t Commit

An El Paso police investigator bullied sixteen-year-old Daniel Villegas into falsely confessing to two murders. Where were his parents? Where was his lawyer? And why, after eighteen years in prison, does the district attorney want to keep him locked up?

Better Off Red

It’s not all sweetness and light in the grapefruit groves of the Rio Grande Valley.

Paul of the Wild

Ron Paul may be out of office, but he’s still trying to save the country from itself.

Scott McCown: The Exit Interview

Reflecting on his ten years as the executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a center-left think tank based in Austin, Scott McCown makes the case for why some Texans should be paying higher taxes and explains why Governor Perry’s Texas doesn’t work for everyone.

The Best and Worst Legislators 2011

For the Eighty-second Legislature (our twentieth at the Capitol), everything old was new again: the state faced a budget deficit; the governor harbored presidential ambitions; the members of the Best list were hard to find; and the names on the Worst list picked themselves.

Texas Hold ’Em

Ted Cruz is going all in against immigration reform. But would his win be our loss?

Crash Test

Over the past two decades a movement to increase the importance of standardized testing in public schools has swept across the country. It was born in Texas. Is Texas also where it might die?

These Men Won't Stand For Injustice

Jamie Meltzer, a documentarian, talks about his new film “Freedom Fighters,” about a grassroots detective agency started by a group of exonerees in Dallas.