The Consequences of Grapevine's New Housing Ordinance for Sex Offenders

Keeping the people on sex offender registries as far away from children as possible is a political winner if there ever was one, which may be why the Dallas suburb of Grapevine’s city council passed an ordinance last week that made it illegal for anyone on the state’s sex offender registry to “establish a permanent or temporary residence within 2,000 feet of any premises where children commonly gather.” The ordinance goes on to define those premises as “a park, playground, school, day care facility, video arcade facility, public or private youth center, registered home daycare, recreational hiking and biking trails, or public swimming pool,” though it also notes that it’s not limited to merely those locations. 

Perry in Davos

In retrospect, when Rick Perry began wearing those hipster glasses with the plastic frames last year, it may have been a sign that the governor’s highbrow makeover had begun. That, at least, was one way to interpret his attendance at this year’s World Economic Forum conference in Davos, a tiny resort town in Switzerland. The annual meeting is an exclusive, invitation-only confab of the world’s political and economic elite. The official purpose is for attendees to talk about global trends and how they, as the world’s power brokers, might best respond to the same. But Davos is also schmooze city for the presidents and CEOs who usually attend. Perry was the only United States governor in attendance, though not the only American politician; an album of photos on his public Facebook page showed him hobnobbing with a number of congressional representatives, including Kay Granger and Jeb Hensarling, both Republicans from Texas. Still, Perry seemed tickled by the chance to talk up the state, and his tenure at its helm, in front of an influential international audience.

And in light of Perry’s public remarks, during a panel discussion of the global “drugs dilemma”, I’d say he acquitted himself pretty well. A number of news outlets reported, with some surprise, that the governor of Texas had come out in favor of marijuana decriminalization. The reason people were surprised was that Perry has always opposed legalization of marijuana (or any other drug). They shouldn’t have been that surprised, though, because the governor also has a long record of supporting alternative approaches to the “war on drugs”, and that’s basically what he called for at Davos. From Jonathan Tilove’s summary, at the Austin American-Statesman:

Harris County Jail Has One of the Worst Sexual Assault Rates in the Country

Nelson Mandela once said that “no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails,” and that “a nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” If Mandela is right—and he was certainly someone in a position to know—then the judgments one can make against Harris County are fairly unkind. 

That’s the conclusion it’s hard not to draw, anyway, based on the Department of Justice’s review of prison rape. The study carried out on behalf of the federal agency found that the Harris County Jail at 1200 Baker Street in Houston features a staggering 7.6 percent assault rate, more than twice the national average, according to the report (which you can view in full via Grits For Breakfast). That puts Houston’s jail at number three, nationwide, for incidences of assault. 

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

On April 21, 1993, the El Paso police picked up a seventeen-year-old boy named David Rangel and questioned him about a double murder that had occurred the night before. Detective Al Marquez and a second officer browbeat Rangel for hours, telling him—falsely—that others had already implicated him and that he would get life and be raped in prison if he didn’t cooperate.

The Death Row Inmates Who Sued Over the Execution Drug Have Appealed the Ruling

Last week, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston dismissed a lawsuit filed against the state by three death row inmates who claimed that Texas planned to execute them using untested compound drugs that may cause them great pain, in violation of the eighth amendment. Now, two of those men are appealing the judge’s decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. (The third prisoner who brought the lawsuit, Michael Yowell, was killed by the state in October after the Fifth Circuit denied his request for injuctive relief.) 

A Diabetic Woman Died In The Irving Jail Because The Staff Didn't Give Her The Insulin They Knew She Needed

In early November, 37-year-old Sarah Tibbetts was in a motel room in Irving with her boyfriend, 35-year-old Jack Pritchard, when the police arrested both of them—Tibbetts for allegedly being in possession of someone else’s credit card and baggies containing trace amounts of marijuana, Pritchard on old warrants. Tibbetts had been convicted on misdemeanor charges in the past—trespassing and drug possession—and during her prior arrests, she had made it clear that she was a diabetic who was dependent on insulin. 

According to a report from the Dallas Morning Newsthe jail staff was aware that Tribbetts needed the insulin (which is available over-the-counter in Texas)—they just limited their efforts at finding her the treatment she required to calling Tibbetts’ mother, who lives in California. 

How Dallas Has Become a Global Leader on Stopping Domestic Violence

Last March, Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings made headlines after hosting a major rally against domestic violence in the city. The event took place at the AT&T Stadium, where the Cowboys play, and featured major names among the speakers—Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach, Dez Bryant, and Brandon Carr all spoke, representing the football team, and the non-sports names included religious and political leaders from throughout the area. 

The event, part of Rawlings’s Dallas Men Against Abuse initiative, came shortly after the mayor spoke to the UN about domestic violence. And his statements as part of human rights organization Breakthrough’s “Ring The Bell” campaign, which puts the onus on men to end domestic violence against women, are concise and convincing

“Make no mistake: men’s violence against women is a men’s issue- It’s our problem. And I’m here to say we’ve had enough of women being disrespected, and we won’t tolerate it any longer. It’s not only about not being violent; it’s about changing a culture that says ‘violence is okay.’ I promise to stop laughing at jokes we’ve all participated in. I promise to speak out against domestic violence. And I’m asking men in Dallas — and everywhere — to do the same. Let’s make our homes, and our cities, safe for all.”

The San Antonio 4 Are Finally Free

When dealing with home-run records and financial opportunities, a reliable rule to follow is this: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When dealing with child-sex-abuse allegations, a reliable rule too follow is this: if it sounds too bad to be true, be very, very skeptical. 

Over the past week in Texas, we have seen this rule come to life, not once but twice. Last Tuesday, there was a hearing in Quitman regarding the so-called “Mineola Swinger’s Club” cases, which involved four children, aged four through seven, claiming that seven adults from Tyler made them go to a sex kindergarten and dance in live sex shows onstage at a swingers club in front of dozens of people. The kids testified that grownups cast spells and wore witch outfits, and one child even claimed to have ridden in the air on a broomstick. Though no evidence was ever found, seven adults were sent to prison based on these outrageous claims; six were eventually freed, and one remains there—for life. The star of last week’s Quitman hearing was Margie Cantrell, the adoptive mother of three of the accusers. She stood accused of physically abusing her children, and in the end, CPS removed four of her kids, including the three accusers. Finally, it seems, the citizens of Smith and Wood County are treating the bizarre claims made by these kids—which were made only after entering Cantrell’s care—with skepticism.


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