The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
Baylor University’s sexual assault scandal could cost the school $223 million in expenses and lost revenue. That’s according to an estimate by “Bears for Leadership Reform,” a group of alumni and donors. They’ve been demanding more transparency from Baylor administrators and regents. John Eddie Williams is the group’s president:
“We have come forward and made our best estimate of the true cost of these events,” Williams says. “The Board of Regents…the ball is now in their court to give us the true facts and I hope Baylor nation, Baylor family will ask for the true facts and get to the bottom of it.”
The consulting firm HSSK did the financial analysis for the group. It says Baylor didn’t provide information for the estimates. So instead the firm looked at financial statements, media reports, and sexual assault settlements from other universities.
Gov. Greg Abbott took a softer stance on proposed legislation that could prohibit transgender Texans from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said a so-called bathroom bill is a top priority in the upcoming legislative session – but Abbott told reporters Tuesday he hadn’t seen legislation yet and was in the information-gathering stage. Chuck Smith is with the LGBT advocacy group, Equality Texas:
“I am hopeful that when something is filed, that he will be more in line with Speaker Straus in terms of recognizing that there are many other issues much more critical to the state than this type of legislation that there really is no need for,” Smith says.
House Speaker Joe Straus has said a bathroom bill is not an urgent concern of his.
In Texas, there are about 12,500 female inmates out of a total prison population of about 147,000. A new program is helping a small group of women in prison develop the necessary skills for their release.
Johnathan Silver is a criminal justice reporter for the Texas Tribune. He says the program was created at the request of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
“It’s a six-month program that focuses on decision-making and addressing those issues that individual inmates, particularly in this case – women inmates – what issues they’ve had in life that led to points in their life or entire lives of criminality,” Silver says.
Twenty-eight women have been in the program since it launched in September and another 15 are now joining in. Silver says this is more than a re-entry program – it’s supposed to also be about rehabilitation.
It teaches life skills such as applying for a job and managing a budget – concepts that are crucial for women who have served long sentences.
“They’re not used to this traditional style of life and their livelihoods included earning fast money and obtaining resources they needed to get by in life before being arrested or before being imprisoned by illegitimate means,” he says.
The program has the capacity to serve about 112 women in total. The first group of program participants is expected to be released in March.