Pamela Colloff

Pamela Colloff was an executive editor and staff writer at Texas Monthly until 2017. Her work has also appeared in the New Yorker and has been anthologized in Best American Magazine Writing, Best American Crime Reporting, Best American Non-Required Reading, and Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.

Colloff is a six-time National Magazine Award finalist. She was nominated in 2001 for her article on school prayer, and then again in 2011 for her two-part series, “Innocence Lost” and “Innocence Found,” about wrongly convicted death row inmate Anthony Graves. One month after the publication of “Innocence Lost,” the Burleson County district attorney’s office dropped all charges against Graves and released him from jail, where he had been awaiting retrial. Colloff’s article—an exhaustive examination of Graves’s case—was credited with helping Graves win his freedom after eighteen years behind bars.

In 2013 she was nominated twice more, for “Hannah and Andrew” and “The Innocent Man,” a two-part series about Michael Morton, a man who spent 25 years wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of his wife, Christine. The latter earned a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. 

In 2014 the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University awarded her the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.

In 2015, Colloff was nominated for her fifth National Magazine Award, for “The Witness,” a profile of a former prison employee who, over the course of her career, had watched the execution of 278 death row inmates.

Her story “96 Minutes” served as the basis for the 2016 documentary, Tower, which was short-listed for an Academy Award in Best Documentary Film. Colloff also served as one of the film’s executive producers. She further explored the subject of the 1966 University of Texas Tower shooting in her story “The Reckoning,” which was a finalist for a 2017 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing.

Colloff holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Brown University and was raised in New York City. She lives in Austin with her husband and their two children.

Articles by Pamela Colloff

dan rather
Central Intelligence

Jan 13, 2017 By Pamela Colloff

During the 2016 presidential campaign, much of the mainstream media failed to understand voters in Middle America. Not Dan Rather. His early recognition of Trump’s viability, and a late embrace of social media, has made the 85-year-old Wharton native more relevant than ever.

Remember the Christian Alamo

Aug 11, 2016 By Pamela Colloff

Evangelist Lester Roloff drew a line in the dirt to keep the State of Texas from regulating his Rebekah Home for Girls. Years later, then-govenor George W. Bush handed Roloff's disciples a long-sought victory. But this Alamo had no heroes—only victims.

96 Minutes

Aug 2, 2016 By Pamela Colloff

At 11:48 a.m. on August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman began firing his rifle from the top of the University of Texas Tower at anyone and everyone in his sights. At 1:24 p.m., he was gunned down himself. The lives of the people who witnessed the sniper’s spree firsthand would never be the same again.

The Reckoning

May 16, 2016 By Pamela Colloff

Fifty years ago, when Claire Wilson was eighteen, she was critically wounded during the 1966 University of Texas Tower shooting—the first massacre of its kind. How does the path of a bullet change a life?

How to Drive 85 Miles per Hour

Mar 23, 2015 By Texas Monthly and Pamela Colloff

The fastest road in America does not cross the Mojave Desert or the big sky country of Montana. Instead, it cuts through an unexceptional stretch of farmland southeast of Austin, where the posted speed limit on Texas Highway 130 jumps to 85 miles per hour. The so-called Texas Autobahn…

To Love and to Cherish

Feb 6, 2015 By Pamela Colloff

In a 5-4 ruling on June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry across the country. Here is the story of two women who fought for that historic decision in Texas—and helped to make it a reality.

National Magazine Award Nominee
The Witness

Aug 12, 2014 By Pamela Colloff

For more than a decade, Michelle Lyons’s job required her to watch condemned criminals be put to death. After 278 executions, she won't ever be the same.

Criminal Justice
Hannah Overton’s Day in Court

Apr 8, 2014 By Pamela Colloff

The Corpus Christi mother convicted of murdering her four-year-old foster son has maintained her innocence for eight years, and she finally had a chance to plead her case to Texas’s highest criminal court.

Crime
A Question of Mercy

Feb 11, 2014 By Pamela Colloff

In 1998 famously tough Montague County district attorney Tim Cole sent a teenager to prison for life for his part in a brutal murder. The punishment haunts him to this day.

Criminal Justice
Why Was This Prosecutor Never Punished?

Dec 18, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Anthony Graves was wrongfully convicted of capital murder in a trial where the prosecutor, Charles Sebesta, withheld evidence that could have helped prove Graves’s innocence. So why hasn’t Sebesta been held accountable for his egregious misconduct?

Criminal Justice
Anthony Graves Establishes Scholarship

Oct 16, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Graves used funds he received from the state for his wrongful conviction to set up a law school scholarship in the name of Nicole Cásarez, the Houston attorney and journalism professor who fought for eight years to secure his freedom.

The Guilty Man

May 13, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Twenty-six years after Michael Morton was sent to prison for a murder he didn’t commit, his wife’s killer was finally brought to justice.

Norwood Trial
The Missing Gun

Mar 22, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

On the third day of Mark Alan Norwood's capital murder trial, an old friend testified that Norwood sold him the .45 that disappeared from Michael Morton's home after his wife, Christine, was murdered in 1986.

Norwood Trial
Critical Evidence

Mar 20, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

DNA testing of a blue bandana exonerated Michael Morton. Could the small square of cloth also be the linchpin that seals Mark Alan Norwood's fate?

Criminal Justice
Reasonable Doubt: The Manuel Velez Case

Mar 6, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

UPDATED: A Brownsville construction worker named Manuel Velez was sent to death row in 2008 after he was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s baby. Five years later, new testimony from a number of forensic experts suggests that the medical evidence against Velez was deeply flawed. Now he may receive the chance to prove his innocence.

Court of Inquiry
Another Chapter Closes in the Michael Morton Case

Feb 8, 2013 By Texas Monthly and Pamela Colloff

The final day of the court of inquiry into alleged prosecutorial misconduct by former Williamson County D.A. Ken Anderson ended with the man who helped put Michael in prison for 25 years for a crime he didn't commit calling the accusations against him "so bogus it’s unreal.”

Why John Bradley Lost

Jan 21, 2013 By Pamela Colloff

Williamson Country District Attorney John Bradley faced a resounding defeat in a race that became a referendum on his handling of the Michael Morton case.