death penalty news—-TEXAS

Nov. 25

TEXAS—-new execution date

Johnny Johnson has been given an execution date of February 12; it should
be considered serious.

(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)


Texas DPS criminal database has incomplete records, analysis shows

Several Texas criminal cases were never reported to the state's criminal
database used by the public for background screening, an analysis

Fort Worth-based Imperative Information Group, a screening company, looked
at 562 cases for offenses that ranged from theft by check to capital
murder. All were known to have ended with a conviction or "deferred
adjudication," similar to probation.

Its study, conducted in October, found the Department of Public Safety
database did not have records on 36 % of the 562 cases, the Fort Worth
Star-Telegram reported Tuesday. In 3 instances, the cases were not
reported to the database even though the defendants were sentenced to

State licensing agencies, employers, youth sports leagues, churches and
others rely on the database to screen prospective employees, customers and
volunteers. The missing records stem from human error and lax reporting
from law enforcement agencies, courts and district attorneys, the
newspaper reported.

"We know that the data is not very reliable," said Mike Coffey, president
of Imperative. "There's a false sense of security that this criminal
background check is going to be effective."

The public database includes only cases that have ended in a conviction or
deferred adjudication. Government agencies and certain types of employers,
such as nursing homes, are allowed to access information on arrests and
open cases, but they often look only for convictions, Coffey said.

DPS acknowledged the problem isn't new and blamed inconsistent reporting.
Some counties report as little as 17 percent of convictions to DPS, said
agency spokeswoman Tela Mange.

"It's been going on for a number of years," she said. "There's nothing we
can do to force them to fix that problem."

The unreported criminal cases discovered in the study involved at least
three Texas death row inmates: Stephen Dale Barbee, convicted of killing
his former girlfriend and her 7-year-old son; Edward Lee Busby, Jr.,
convicted of killing a retired Texas Christian University professor; and
Noah Espada, convicted of killing his former boss.

(source: Associated Press)