Activist asks court to let him publish more Planned Parenthood sting videos

The anti-abortion activist whose targeting of Planned Parenthood got him an indictment in Harris County is asking a court to let him publish more sting videos.

The request to the California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, filed by the Thomas More Society on behalf of activist David Daleiden, asked for the reversal of an injunction barring the publication of more videos. It argues that the injunction is an unconstitutional “prior restraint” on free speech and that the undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood and its handling of fetal tissue are of significant public interest.

Continue reading → Activist asks court to let him publish more Planned Parenthood sting videos

Report: Parents in prison affects kids’ health

AUSTIN — Texas children who have incarcerated parents suffer from trauma and emotional instability at the same magnitude as abuse and domestic violence, according to research study released Monday.

The study could carry a significant message in Texas, a state with a historically high-incarceration rate that also has had limited funding for mental-health programs that could divert additional people from the nation’s largest state criminal-justice system.

“Shared Sentence,” the report written by the philanthropy group Annie E. Casey Foundation, states that more than 477,000 Texas children — 7 percent of the state’s child population — have experienced trauma after being separated from their parents.

Nationally, 5.1 million children have been affected, according to the study.

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Fenves: UT security study to be complete in August

AUSTIN — A comprehensive review of safety and security at the University of Texas’ flagship campus that was ordered after the first murder on campus in 50 years will be complete in August, UT President Gregory Fenves has announced.

In a statement, Fenves said the Texas Department of Public Safety is expected to complete by fall the first overall examination of security — covering everything from electronic security systems and keys to  campus lighting and security video systems to the role and activities of security personnel.

Fenves ordered the study after the body of Haruka Weiser, 18, a first-year student from Oregon, was found along Waller Creek in the first slaying on campus since Charles Whitman went on a sniper rampage in the UT Tower in 1966. He killed 16 people and injured dozens more before he was shot and killed by police.

“Maintaining a safe campus is a top priority at UT,” Fenves said, noting the security study will include the main Austin campus, along with the J.J. Pickle Research Center in North Austin, graduate student housing, parking garages and other university-owned satellite facilities.

Fenves said that while the review is underway, campus police will maintain additional police patrols.

A homeless teenager, Meechaiel Criner, has been charged with murder in Weiser’s death.

This article was published in the Houston Chronicle April 20, 2016. 

Texas violated court order, implemented Medicaid cuts, group alleges

AUSTIN — Texas quietly violated a court order that prohibits it from reducing the rates it pays to therapists serving Medicaid recipients, a group of providers and parents of disabled children said Tuesday.

The group told Judge Tim Sulak that Superior Health Plan Inc. notified its providers April 1 that the state would be changing reimbursement rates starting at the beginning of next month. Rates for some services could be reduced up to 30 percent, the letter said.

That rate reduction, the group said, would be in violation of a court order that Sulak issued last fall, temporarily blocking $350 million in Medicaid cuts enacted by the state Legislature.

“When one of the state’s contractors took upon themselves to make cuts even though there was court order prohibiting that, it gave us opportunity to know the state is not following its own protocols,” said Chuck McDonald, a spokesman for the group.

Continue reading → Texas violated court order, implemented Medicaid cuts, group alleges

Bland’s death cited to boost mental health services in jails

AUSTIN — Using Sandra Bland’s death as a suicide case in point, a Senate committee on Wednesday called for Texas county jails to provide improved mental health services for people held behind bars to curb continuing loopholes in the system.

Members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, after applauding the Texas Commission on Jail Standards for the success of revised intake forms designed to minimize suicide risks, said additional changes are necessary to achieve a “zero-tolerance” of locking up mentally ill inmates without proper observation and treatment.

The committee is studying changes in state law to minimize suicide risks in local jails, and whether additional state funding is needed to provide for additional beds in state hospitals to care for the mentally ill – a plan that could cost tens of millions of dollars. But committee members made clear they want a solution.

Continue reading → Bland’s death cited to boost mental health services in jails