Houston Chronicle
December 1, 2004

When it comes to prosecuting brutal police officers, prison guards, Border Patrol agents, etc., the Justice Department is the court of last resort. The Department's authority in this area rests on legislation passed just after the Civil War -- 18 USC 242 -- that makes it a crime to deprive any person of their rights "under color of law." This statute has played a key role in a handful of high publicity cases, Rodney King for example. But federal prosecutors around the country have for many years been reluctant to file charges against enforcement officials, even when recommended by the FBI. On December 1, when TRAC put up a special report about this anomaly, John Frank of the Houston Chronicle's Washington Bureau was one of those who dug into it. His interest was piqued by the fact that since 1986 federal investigators recommended more 18 USC 242 prosecutions in the Houston area (Texas South) than in any other district in the country. Of even more interest, was the fact that during the entire period the assistant U.S. attorneys in the area declined to prosecute 99.3% of them.

Houston Chronicle --
City rarely prosecutes civil rights complaints
December 1, 2004, PDF file

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