The Texas Commission on Jail Standards was tougher with Harris County Jail and their overcrowding issues at last week’s meeting. Probably because they’ve been getting “variances” since 2005. Variances: TEMPORARY exceptions to the regulations as in allowing Harris County to house people in a cell by adding “low riders” or other temporary beds.
While HCSO jail has to hold people who are not given bail or are assigned an unaffordably high bond, they are bound by law to ensure that those people are held safely and humanely. Not happening. We hope that the new sheriff, DA and judges will work together to stop the terrible dealths of people like Tamara Moe’s brother who die there while awaiting trial. Read on for a great Huffington Post piece.
- 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
- Collin County investigated for firing gay jailer
- Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas
- Jailer admitted falsifying log in Sandra Bland case, says lawyer
- Four Suicides in Bexar Jail in Three Weeks
- February 3rd, 2017: Next meeting of Jail Commission
- Our son is home. If it had not been for your prompt attention ….
Each meeting starts at 9 am sharp, and anyone can attend! You can speak during public input, which is at 9:05 sharp. Texans often think that the Texas Commission on Jail Standards is all powerful and can direct jails in every aspect, but actually TCJS only has limited authority over how a sheriff decides to run his jail. Also, TCJS will not investigate anything involving criminal acts, such as rape or assault. You need to report crimes like those to the Texas Rangers and/or the FBI. Please let the Texas Jail Project know, too! Read on for more info on how to report criminal acts inside jails and for more thoughts on the meetings and TCJS.
“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 …”