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’s been two years since Tulia’s tainted drug busts first came to light. Do you really want to know how little has changed there?
Five years after the Tulia fiasco put the state’s amateurish, irresponsible drug task forces in the national spotlight, more than half of them have been dissolved. That’s a good start.