The Houston Chronicle continues its ongoing coverage of problems in county jails that can and do affect thousands of Texans who are held in them before ever being “convicted criminals.” In this new story about Waller Jail, where Sandra Bland died, we see some of the many reasons a jail is classified as substandard. TJP’s director is quoted, saying,
“An updated facility would allow for better supervision and use of staff, but county commissioners often reject building new jails,” said Diana Claitor of the Texas Jail Project. “The public can also push back against funding such projects, not grasping how essential they are to the health of the community.”
“It’s easily put at the bottom of the list of what the county needs, and it should be at the top,” she said.
- Waller County Needs to Replace Outdated Jail
- TX legislature: Speaking about a jail experience
- Help us help Texans today and every day
- New report highlights mental health issues in Texas jails
- Non-Compliant Jails – TJCS Reports
- Inmates Die at a Faster Rate in Harris County Jail
- Texas Justice Initiative: 7,000 Deaths in Custody
- If your loved one has been found incompetent to stand trial….
- Settlement from Waller and DPS for Bland Family
Each meeting starts at 9 am sharp, and anyone can attend! You yourself can speak during public input, which is at 9:05 sharp. It’s worth noting that the Texas Commission on Jail Standards is NOT all powerful and cannot direct jails in every aspect; it actually only has limited authority over how a sheriff runs his jail. There is a long list of standards that the inspectors check out when they inpect the jails, but few of them involve treatment of the people being held. And the legislature has not given the Commission enough inspectors: only 4 to inspect some 245 jails in our vast state!
Click “continue” for more about the public meetings and what TCJS does.
“Texas’ most populous county jails misdemeanor arrestees who can’t afford bail, an unconstitutional “wealth-based” system that leaves poor people languishing behind bars, an inmate claims in a federal class action.” We already knew about a lot of the inequities in the court system in Houston from the Project Orange Jumpsuit report of 2014, but now we know more. And this lawsuit demonstrates that people are not going to take it any more. ODonnell says in her lawsuit “Harris County’s detention system is unconstitutionally rigged against poor people because magistrate judges set their bail with no consideration of whether they can afford it.”
Maria Ana shares about her son’s experience of being held pretrial in a Texas county jail for 3 years.
There is a legal filing to make sure a person found incompetent is hospitalized or removed from the jail. If your loved one has been found incompetent to stand trial due to mental disability but has continued to be held in jail without treatment, your loved one’s lawyer can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus with the court demanding that the county provide him/her with appropriate medical care. Once the court grants the Writ, the Sheriff must comply. Go to next page for the Writ, which you can download.
“Sharing my story might not make it more safe for myself, but I would like to make it safe for someone else.” says John Brown, a contributor to Jailhouse Stories who was jailed at Dallas County Jail for two and a half years while waiting for a trial.
This week, a new website, “Jailhouse Stories: Voices from Pretrial Detention in Texas,” was released by Texas Jail Project. Collected over a two-year period, these powerful stories document a pattern of mistreatment and poor conditions experienced by those incarcerated in county jails while pretrial—innocent in the eyes of the law and awaiting their day in court.
Texas Jail Project receives hundreds of emails, phone calls, letters and website messages each year. Here is a sample of ones thanking TJP for help given to people in jail and their loved ones. This email is from the Tyre family of Ft. Worth, in 2015:
“Emily, I am sending you this to inform you that our son Zach is home with us. His health is improving every day. Our family would like to sincerely thank you for your concern regarding his treatment during his incarceration at Tarrant county correctional facilities. I am very grateful to you and to all those who advocate for our sons, daughters and loved ones …”