September-October 2022

Carol Vance, Boomtown DA

By Rob Kepple
TDCAF & TDCAA Executive Director in Austin

The last edition of this journal featured an article by Tom Krampitz about a one-time prosecutor and TDCAA legend, Tom Hanna. At the end of that article, we had to drop an editor’s note that another prosecutor legend, Carol Vance, had passed. Carol was the District Attorney in Harris County starting in 1966 and led that office through a huge explosion in Houston’s population (hence, his nickname, “Boomtown DA”; he also wrote a book by that name).

            I want to thank Bert Graham, Johnny Holmes, Ken Magidson, and Ron Woods for their words in tribute (go to THIS LINK for their memories of Carol). I had the good fortune of getting to know Carol as we got the Texas District and County Attorneys Foundation up and running. He was an enthusiastic supporter of our profession and of the concept of building a legacy that will outlive our modest efforts.

            Many people don’t know that Carol literally founded TDCAA’s training efforts.  As TDCAA President in 1970, he orchestrated TDCAA’s application for Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funding for prosecutor training. These early grants were the cornerstone of the training and support that Texas prosecutors enjoy today. And it is safe to say that Carol was very proud of his work as the chairman of the Texas Department of Corrections (now Texas Department of Criminal Justice). Appointed by Governor Ann Richards to a three-year term, Carol oversaw the growth of TDC from 45,000 to 145,000 inmates. He was most proud of the 12,000 substance abuse beds and school system enhancements he was able to usher in. As a man of deep faith, Carol spent years ministering to inmates in prisons throughout the world, including at the Carol Vance Unit in Sugarland. We are all indebted to what Carol did during his 88 years.