Naked City

After Tulia: State, Feds Act

Last week featured more fallout from the infamous 1999 Tulia drug busts, including a move by the federal government to review U.S. Dept. of Justice programs that feed the war on drugs.

On May 13, Gov. Rick Perry asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to review 38 remaining Tulia cases -- beginning with the cases of 13 people still jailed -- and recommend whether pardons or sentence commutations are in order. The next day, the Senate passed SB 1948 by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, which would set the Tulia 13 free on bond pending a decision by the Court of Criminal Appeals on whether the Tulia cases -- built solely on the testimony of rogue undercover cop Tom Coleman, who has himself now been indicted -- should be vacated and dismissed, as recommended by a state district judge and special prosecutor reviewing the cases.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress is also heading into the Tulia fray. On May 7, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan -- later joined by Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and Charles Rangel, D-New York -- asked that the House Judiciary Committee investigate the Tulia scandal. According to the Drug Reform Coordination Network, the committee chair, GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, has agreed to review not only the Tulia cases themselves, but also the workings of a DOJ program that offers federal tax dollars to various state drug task forces, like the Panhandle Narcotics Task Force that hired Coleman. The Texas House has already passed legislation this session effectively prohibiting Gov. Perry from allocating these federal funds to multijurisdictional narcotics task forces, which have been implicated in numerous scandals besides the Tulia bust.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle