Marshall Project Originals
Burned to Death in a Prison Cell
After years of warnings about broken fire alarms, two men have now died in blazes at Texas prisons.
Reality Check: 7 Times Texas Leaders Misled the Public About Operation Lone Star
As reporters investigated Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border initiative, they repeatedly found instances where Abbott and DPS officials cited accomplishments that lacked crucial context or were misleading. Here are a few examples.
Texas Border Operation’s Largest Share of Arrests: Trespassing On Private Property
About 40% of people arrested by Operation Lone Star over seven months face only this charge. They often spend months in prison, but the tactic does not appear to have slowed migration.
Texas Says Its Multi-Billion Dollar Border Operation Is Working. The Evidence Tells a Different Story.
Arrests of U.S. citizens hundreds of miles from the border. Drug busts from across the state. Changing statistics. The data Texas Gov. Greg Abbott uses to boast about Operation Lone Star raises more questions than answers.
Do Texas Prison Conditions Violate Human Rights Standards? One Scottish Court Says Yes
Tiny cells, lacking medical treatment and sweltering conditions cited by judge who blocked extradition.
How Melissa Lucio Went From Abuse Survivor to Death Row
Why some trauma victims are more likely to take responsibility for crimes, even when they may be innocent.
The Rise and Fall of a Prison Town Queen
A family feud over drugs, money and fried fish roils the heart of the Texas prison system.
They Went to Prison as Kids. Now They’re on Death Row.
Fight clubs, solitary confinement and neglect make juveniles angrier and more violent.
The Prisoner-Run Radio Station That’s Reaching Men on Death Row
They can’t go to classes or prison jobs, and they don’t have tablets or televisions. But they do have radios.
From Last Meals to Last Words, What Can Death Row Prisoners Request Before They Die?
As a Texas man sues for his pastor to touch him during his execution, a guide to rights for the condemned.
Some prison labor programs lose money — even when prisoners work for pennies
Officials claim programs provide skills, but critics say there’s little evidence.
‘They Should Have Been Watching’: Suicides Rise in Texas Prisons During Pandemic
Prison suicides have been rising for years. Experts fear the pandemic has made it worse.
Everyone on Death Row Gets a Lawyer. Not Everyone Gets a Kim Kardashian.
The case of Rodney Reed — whose innocence claims were championed by the reality TV star — raises questions about celebrities’ role in the criminal justice system.
A Half-Million People Got COVID-19 in Prison. Are Officials Ready for the Next Pandemic?
People who live and work in prisons worry they remain vulnerable, even as life behind bars returns to business as usual.
Life Without Parole Is Replacing the Death Penalty — But the Legal Defense System Hasn’t Kept Up
Just ask a Dallas woman who spent a year in jail without talking to a lawyer.
He Spent Six Days in a Cell Covered in Feces. The Supreme Court Says He Can Sue His Jailers.
It’s the first time in years the highest court allowed such a suit to proceed. The ruling suggests it is reconsidering protections for officers who cause harm.
Can The Death Penalty Be Fixed? These Republicans Think So
A growing number of conservative lawmakers want to overhaul capital punishment, or end it.
Death Penalty for Mass Shooters? Depends On Where They Strike.
The men arrested in recent killings in Atlanta, Boulder, Colorado, and Orange, California, could face very different sentences if convicted.
Texas Prisons Stopped In-Person Visits and Limited Mail. Drugs Got in Anyway.
Guards smuggle in most contraband, people who live in or work at prisons say.
How Biden Can Reverse Trump’s Death Penalty Expansion
Biden vowed to end the death penalty. A recent court filing suggests where he might start.
Inside Frigid Texas Prisons: Broken Toilets, Disgusting Food, Few Blankets
The deep freeze has been terrible for many Texans, but prisoners have little way to get warm.
What 120 Executions Tell Us About Criminal Justice in America
The Marshall Project tracked every execution in America for more than five years. For condemned people, the path to death grew longer, more winding and erratic.
He’s Too Mentally Ill to Execute. Why Is He Still on Death Row After 45 Years?
Raymond Riles has been on death row longer than anyone in America. He’s one of many who have languished there for decades with severe mental illnesses.
The Case That Made Texas the Death Penalty Capital
In an excerpt from his new book, ‘Let the Lord Sort Them,’ Marshall Project staff writer Maurice Chammah explains where a 1970s legal team fighting the death penalty went wrong.
Zoom Funerals, Outdoor Classes: Jails and Prisons Evolve Amid the Pandemic
But will high-tech programs replace “the human touch” when the virus ebbs?
Moving People—and Coronavirus—From Prison to Prison
As COVID-19 infections soar, prisoners and corrections officers worry that transferring people between facilities is causing outbreaks.
Prisoners Are Setting Fires To Protest Pandemic Conditions
But many Texas prisons don’t have working fire alarms.
Should Prisoners Get Covid-19 Vaccines Early?
Public health experts urge making them a priority—but some push back.
Will The Reckoning Over Racist Names Include These Prisons?
Many prisons, especially in the South, are named after racist officials and former plantations.
How Long Can You Hide a Dead Body in a Prison Cell?
Mental-health problems, short staffing plague a Texas lockup in COVID lockdown.
Their Unlikely Alliance Began at Whataburger. Can They Reform a Texas Jail?
When COVID-19 threatened the jail in Tyler, Texas, an activist pressured her sheriff to make change.
Did “Live PD” Let Police Censor Footage?
Police asked the show to edit out officers using violence or bad language. The company says it had other reasons for not airing the footage.
First Came The Pandemic, Then Came the Raw Sewage
As if coronavirus wasn’t bad enough, plumbing problems are making life in some Texas prisons even more miserable.
Prisons Are Coronavirus Hotspots. This Town’s Got Five of Them.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” says the former mayor of Palestine, Texas.
“We All Have An Expiration Date”: The Death of a Prison Writer
Among the many incarcerated people who have died from COVID-19 was Marshall Project contributor Timothy Bazrowx, one of Texas' best chroniclers of prison life.
Texas Prison Officers: We Asked For Face Masks In 2017. COVID-19 Got Here First.
A state spokesman says the system has more than 100,000 N95 masks, but it’s unclear how many have been given to officers or prisoners.
Coronavirus Restrictions Stoke Tensions in Lock-ups Across U.S.
As COVID-19 fear grows among prisoners and guards, concerns rise about possible unrest.
How Coronavirus is Disrupting the Death Penalty
Colorado abolished capital punishment. But COVID-19 is pausing it everywhere else.
What’s in a Name?
New lawsuits by transgender people challenge bans on name changes for those convicted of crimes.
My GPS-Tracked Life on Parole
“Even in prison, I didn’t feel so overwhelmed with worry about doing something wrong when I’m doing everything right.”
Mourning a Stranger’s Suicide in Prison
“Together we prayed and talked about who this girl might have been—and who she might have become.”
Shock Treatment in Court
Stun belts are intended to keep control in the courtroom, but some judges use them to inflict punishment.
Why Showering in Prison Is Hell
“Step by step, I shuffle forward amid the mass of bodies, waiting to get inside.”
Dallas County’s Secret Bail Machine
A lawsuit is challenging private hearings that take just seconds.
He Pocketed His Victims' Organs. Was His Death Penalty Trial Fair?
As Andre Thomas faces execution for three gory murders, a court questions jury bias and his competency.
Trump’s Quiet War on Migrant Kids
How the administration is turning child protection into law enforcement
The Misery of “Medical Chain”
When a trip to the hospital means spending hours on a cramped bus handcuffed to another prisoner.
Bridge to Nowhere
Photographer Kirsten Luce captures the challenges facing migrants who arrive at a U.S. border crossing in Laredo, Texas.
“Cooking Them to Death”: The Lethal Toll of Hot Prisons
As the climate changes, inmates without air-conditioning have no escape from extreme heat.
Sentenced to Life in Prison — And a Job Making Furniture
Employee perks: None, really, unless you count the nail gun fights.
The Man Who Spent 35 Years in Prison Without a Trial
The Jerry Hartfield case is an extraordinary tale of justice delayed and denied.
Jury Clears the Prosecutor Who Sent Cameron Todd Willingham to Death Row
John Jackson did not commit misconduct in 1992 case, a jury finds.
“If Someone is Bringing Drugs into Mar-a-Lago, Police Could Try to Seize it.”
Donald Trump faces a fight on asset forfeiture.
These Prosecutors Campaigned for Less Jail Time — And Won
Reform-minded candidates unseat incumbents in some races.
Making the Case Against Banishing Sex Offenders
Legislators won’t touch the subject, but courts are proving more sympathetic.
The Best Guard at My Prison Was Murdered
“Timothy. His first name was Timothy. I hadn’t known that. They punish us for using guards’ first names.”
Sandra Bland, One Year Later
Her death at a Texas jail spurred a striking amount of reform talk across political lines.
It’s Been Almost Two Months Since the U.S. Executed Someone
We’re in the middle of one of the longest death penalty lulls in 24 years.
The Bogus Murder Confession That Changed How I Investigate Family Violence
A prosecutor on the case he’ll never forget.
A Peek at the Golden Age of Prison Radio
A new book explores a time when Texas prisons promoted rehabilitation through a wildly successful radio show.
Inside the 'Shithouse,' the Prison Unit Where Troubled Inmates Throw Feces at Guards
What it’s like to slowly lose your mind in the grossest corner of the prison-industrial complex.
Who Told the Truth?
A hearing in San Antonio will revive the ghosts of the satanic abuse trials and questions about the testimony of child victims.
A Rare, White Christmas in a Texas Prison
“A few flakes continued to fall, and for a moment, I forgot where I was.”
Raphael Holiday was Put to Death, and His Lawyers Should Have Tried Harder to Stop It
Gretchen Sween was hired a month before Holiday was executed. This is what she saw.
In the Execution Business, Missouri Is Surging
Defense lawyers call it a crisis; the state says it’s just doing its job.
Why Three Counties That Loved the Death Penalty Have Almost Stopped Pursuing It
A closer look at get-tough DAs.
From Solitary to the Street
What happens when prisoners go from complete isolation to complete freedom in a day?
The 17-Year-Old Adults
States are raising the age of who counts as an adult, but it’s no simple task.
Nigerians are Flocking to Work in Texas Prisons
An immigration trend changes the face of corrections.
When The Gang-bangers Are White Guys
“If these biker gangs were non-white, we’d have a national freakout.”
Who Told the Truth, Part 2
A hearing in San Antonio revives the ghosts of the satanic abuse trials and questions about the testimony of child victims.
Willingham Prosecutor Accused of Misconduct
State bar files charges more than 10 years after execution.
‘The Rules Are So Thoroughly Stacked in the Defendant’s Favor.’
A Texas prosecutor on drug laws, jury bias, and the worst part of his job.
Shifting Away from Solitary
More states have passed solitary confinement reforms this year than in the past 16 years.
Crazy or Faking It?
The impending execution of Scott Panetti and the search for a standard of sanity.