#SandraBlandAct is good despite the many misses

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#SandraBlandAct is good despite the many misses

Grits for Breakfast blogger Scott Henson makes the point that reforms and real oversight of jails must be informed by knowledge and experience: “Grits would rather Texas Commission on Jail Standards be given investigators to review the ~101 jail deaths per year themselves instead of appointing another law enforcement agency. Other local agencies won’t typically have experience performing investigations in a correctional institution, which is a different kettle of fish from investigations in the free world.” Texas Jail Project frequently has to explain how different that kettle of fish is in discussions with advocates and lawmakers who don’t have experience with carceral settings.

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Thursday, August 3rd: Jail Commission meeting in Austin Thursday, August 3rd: Jail Commission meeting in Austin

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.

Harris County Lawsuit: Bail Penalizes Poor People Harris County Lawsuit: Bail Penalizes Poor People

“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 Anna invites you to Jailhouse Stories Maria Anna invites you to Jailhouse Stories

Maria Ana shares about her son’s experience of being held pretrial in a Texas county jail for 3 years.

Habeas Corpus

If your loved one was found incompetent to stand trial … If your loved one was found incompetent to stand trial …

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, the person’s lawyer can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus with the court that requires the county to provide him/her with appropriate medical care—in other words, send them to a hospital. Once the court grants the Writ, the Sheriff must comply. Go to next page for the Writ, which you can download.

Pretrial Detention

Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas

“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, who was jailed at Dallas County Jail for two and a half years while awaiting trial. His and other stories reveal what happens to unconvicted people held in jails, mostly because they cannot afford the bail—a practice outlawed in many developed nations.
Last year, Texas Jail Project launched a website, “Jailhouse Stories: Voices from Pretrial Detention in Texas.” 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.

Families Speak Out

Our son is home. If it had not been for your prompt attention… Our son is home. If it had not been for your prompt attention…

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 …”