Behind the Walls

Behind the Walls
A discussion of criminal justice in Texas

An alias, an armed robbery and a decade on the run
Feb 26 • 27 min
Waymond Hall spent ten years of his life on the run from the law. He’d grown up poor, with a father in prison - but seemed poised for a better life until he committed an armed robbery and became a fugitive. But on the DL he rebuilt his life, found a…
Talking rats, records and reporting with Pam Colloff, aka ‘the best damn writer in Texas’
Dec 23, 2019 • 36 min
In , Texas crime writing legend Pamela Colloff delved into the shadowy world of the con artist and jailhouse snitch whose testimony put four men on death row. In this episode, listen in as reporter and podcast host Keri Blakinger asks the Austin-based…
Women, trauma, and the quest for a new jail in Austin
Dec 9, 2019 • 25 min
For the most part, prisons and jails are built for men. But as much as the carceral system fails them, experts say it might fail women even more. That’s why some jails are shifting to a “gender-responsive” model, paying attention to women’s needs and…
Yoga, Buddha and death row: An interview with ‘Texas 7’ prisoner Patrick Murphy
Nov 10, 2019 • 26 min
Patrick Murphy is a death row prisoner, one of the notorious Texas 7 - a group of men who escaped from a maximum security unit and ended up killing a cop. In this interview, he talks about his stay, his legal case, his regret and how he became a…
Someday, you’ll be Prison Famous
Oct 4, 2019 • 33 min
Before he became a big-time honky tonk musician, Texas Joe Bailey did state jail time. He sat down with his guitar and podcast cohosts Keri Blakinger and Lance Lowry to talk about how he ended up in prison, how he turned it around afterward - and what…
Color, death and progressive prosecutors: Talking criminal justice with Emily Bazelon
Aug 30, 2019 • 27 min
Keri Blakinger talks with attorney and New York Times Magazine writer Emily Bazelon about progressive prosecutors, and what it means to be one. Can a district attorney who seeks death sentences still be considered progressive? Does progressive…
Two days till execution: Death row interview with Larry Swearingen
Aug 19, 2019 • 30 min
Larry Ray Swearingen, a Texas death row prisoner, is scheduled for execution on Aug. 21, 2019. It’s the sixth time the state has tried to put him to death in the two decades since he was convicted of killing Melissa Trotter. So far, he’s always…
A ‘sinking submarine’: Two reporters take a deep dive into jail medical care
Jul 23, 2019 • 26 min
Co-host Keri Blakinger chats with CNN reporters and , who just finished investigating the troubled track record of a massive, privatized jail healthcare provider that’s been sued for more than 70 inmate deaths.
Bill Savoie’s Second Chance Story
Jul 18, 2019 • 32 min
Bill Savoie joins Keri Blakinger to talk about his life before he started practicing law. Once upon a time, the now-respected parole attorney did prison time - and on this episode of Behind the Walls, he talks for the first time about the journey from…
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way From the Strip Club: A Texas Lege Wrap-up
Jun 5, 2019 • 31 min
With the Texas legislative session in the rearview mirror, Behind the Walls cohosts Keri Blakinger and Lance Lowry sat down with Dallas Morning News reporter Lauren McGaughy to talk through the criminal justice wins and (mostly) losses this year. Some…
Blood, buckshot and gunpowder: A year later, a school police officer remembers Santa Fe
May 17, 2019 • 30 min
One year after ten people - students and teachers - died in the Santa Fe school shooting, campus police officer John Barnes sat down with Keri Blakinger and fellow reporter St. John Barned-Smith to remember the deadly day, and how he survived.
From Love Triangles to Secret Emails: A Courts Reporter Remembers
May 10, 2019 • 34 min
After long-time Houston Chronicle courts reporter left the paper last month, he came back to sit down and look back on the highlights from 13 years covering the CJC - including the time he unearthed the emails that forced a DA to resign, and the time…
Teeth, slavery and the case for independent oversight
Apr 24, 2019 • 32 min
In this episode of Behind the Walls, cohosts Keri Blakinger and Lance Lowry sat down with Rep. Jarvis Johnson to talk about a bill that would create independent oversight of the troubled Texas prison system. The proposal comes on the heels of a number…
Dope, lies and no videotape
Apr 9, 2019 • 23 min
Attorney Mike Doyle represents the family of one of the two people killed in the botched Harding Street drug raid. Here, he talks with Keri Blakinger and her long-time frenemy and fellow reporter St. John Barned-Smith about the failed bust….
Ashes, reform schools, and the worst Disney Channel movies ever
Mar 29, 2019 • 21 min
As a prison reporter, I get some weird things in the mail: dead cockroaches, paint samples, black mold. But this month I got something a lot darker — ashes. Of an inmate I liked. It left me with a lot of questions. Also in this episode: an interview…
Eleven years, 280 executions, one book
Mar 6, 2019 • 32 min
In the more than a decade she spent working for the Texas prison system, former spokeswoman Michelle Lyons watched more than 200 men and women put to death in Huntsville. She left the department a few years ago in a swirl of controversy, but last…
Episode 3: Ever been toilet paper-jacked? No? Then you’ve never been in prison.
Jan 31, 2019 • 15 min
Prison-beat reporter Keri Blakinger and former prison union chief Lance Lowry compare notes with Florida Times-Union reporter Ben Conarck. They delve into commissary complaints, video visitation and such in the Sunshine State and see how things there…
Judge Elsa Alcala: The death penalty in Texas and sticking with the GOP … it’s complicated
Jan 8, 2019 • 46 min
In her seven years on the state’s highest criminal court, ex-Judge Elsa Alcala became best known as the voice questioning capital punishment, even in the state most enamored of it. In this “Behind the Walls” interview, the recently retired judge - who…
A first night in prison is not like you imagine — or, why do Texas prisoners eat green hot dogs?
Dec 7, 2018 • 33 min
From the first night in prison to a Thanksgiving spread, join reporter Keri Blakinger and longtime corrections officer Lance Lowry as they talk about life behind bars, untangle stats about the number of so-called “violent” offenders and discuss…