Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Wednesday, November 17, 1999


Seeks relief from federal judge's control of Texas prison system

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today filed a brief with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to terminate a federal judge's oversight of Texas prisons. For over 20 years, Texas prisons have made dramatic improvements to satisfy and surpass Federal Judge William Wayne Justice's requirements. In spite of these improvements, the judge has refused to give back control to the state.

"After many long years of control and supervision by the federal judiciary, Texas has proven that it can and does operate a constitutional prison system. The district court erred in refusing to release the Texas prison system from its control, and Texas is entitled to termination of all remaining injunctive relief over its prison system." (Ruiz brief, p.1)

During the past 20 years, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has aggressively reformed the state prisons. A few of the improvements include:

Ignoring these improvements, the federal judge ruled in March that he will maintain control of the state prison system.

"I believe that the evidence does not substantiate the federal judge's ruling. Clearly, Texas prisons have made significant improvements in standards, training, staffing and facilities. It is high time the courts recognized these changes and allow Texans to run the state prison system," said Attorney General Cornyn.

Solicitor General Greg Coleman of the Attorney General's office is handling this case.

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Contact Ted Delisi, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050