Nate Blakeslee

Nate Blakeslee's Profile Photo

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.

Politics & Policy |
March 24, 2011

Zaffirini Throws a Lifeline

A bumpy ride for Senator Jane Nelson’s subcommittee on Medicaid came to an end this morning when senators voted 5-2 to move her recommendations on to the full Finance committee. The two “no” votes were Democratic senators Zaffirini and Whitmire, both of whom were spotted huddling with Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst

Politics & Policy |
March 8, 2011

The Colorado Connection

Last month, the Statesman’s Jason Embry reported that Governor Perry had turned to Colorado to find his newest University of Texas regent, energy executive Alex Cranberg. Now the regents have hired Rick O’Donnell, the former executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, as a special advisor. O’Donnell, who

Web Exclusive |
March 1, 2009


The Dallas Police Department’s posting of photos in its “indecency” section on its Web site is probably constitutional—the fact that prostitution cases are also listed means that gay men as a class are not being singled out—but is it responsible?

Feature |
September 30, 2008

The Reluctant Prosecutor

After Randy Reynolds sat on his hands as the Texas Youth Commission scandal exploded, everyone wanted the district attorney of Ward, Reeves, and Loving counties bounced from his job. Everyone, that is, except the people of Ward, Reeves, and Loving counties.

Politics & Policy |
February 1, 2008

Will to Power

After the Texas Youth Commission imploded last year, one of the state’s fiercest advocates for criminal justice reform was tapped to help rebuild. Inside his yet-to-be-completed slog.

Feature |
December 1, 2007

Everyone’s Poop

Sewerage is the cornerstone of civilization, the sine qua non of urban life, and the best possible window into how we live, what we eat, and who we are.

Politics & Policy |
April 30, 2007

Sins of Commission

There are plenty of people to blame for the latest shock-inducing juvenile corrections scandal, beginning with the so-called reformers who didn’t heed the lessons of the last one.

Feature |
March 1, 2007

Family Values

It may surprise you to learn that gay couples in Texas are more likely to have children than those in most other states, or that San Antonio is a gay parenting mecca, with a higher percentage of gay households with children than any other U.S. city. So why are gay

Feature |
August 31, 2006

King Of the Christocrats

By preaching that the Founding Fathers opposed the separation of church and state, David Barton has become the darling of evangelicals everywhere—and one of the most powerful Texas Republicans you’ve never heard of.

Reporter |
August 31, 2005

The War on Thugs

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.

Reporter |
November 1, 2002

Bust Town

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?