Welcome to the Collin County Jail, where it’s acceptable to harrass and threaten a person on your staff because they are gay. This great story by John Wright from the Texas Observer examines what happens when the command staff of a jail is fine with discrimination and intimidation and hatred. Officer Derek Boyd describes how officials in the sheriff’s department “threatened and interrogated him, outed him to his colleagues, prohibited him from speaking publicly about the matter, and forced him to undergo a polygraph test, which he passed. Other detention officers even refused to respond to Boyd’s radio calls, jeopardizing his safety.” Boyd says , “I got things like, I don’t belong here, God has a special place for me in hell.”
- Collin County investigated for firing gay jailer
- Voices of Texans in Pretrial Detention: “Jailhouse Stories”
- Jailer admitted falsifying log in Sandra Bland case, says lawyer
- Four Suicides in Bexar Jail in Three Weeks
- November 3rd: the next meeting of the Jail Commission
- Our Beloved Hank is Gone–Texarkana
- Lawsuit Reveals Shocking Abuse in Victoria County Jail
- Trapped in Texas: Announcing 30 First-Person Stories of Pre-trial Detention
- RIP Greg Cheek: One of Us
- Harris County Lawsuit: Bail Penalizes Poor People
Each meeting starts at 9 am, and anyone can attend! You can speak during public input, which is at the very beginning, but the commissioners and staffers pay attention but do not respond. They will allow public speakers about 3 minutes. (You can also give them a letter.) Meetings occur in Austin every 3 months,on the first Thursday of that month. Continue for more info about the meetings of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
“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.”
County commissioners and law enforcement across Texas often talk a good game about reducing recidivism and diverting people with mental illness. However, at the same time, many officials—and the jailhouse culture—erect barriers to programming that could help inmates while they are incarcerated. Romy Zarate says such programs can turn a life around. “I was probably in the county jail about four times. Without the programming, I was in and out,” says Zarate. “When I was in, I was planning where I would score when I got out; after the programming, I stayed out.”
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“Sharing my story might not make it more safe for myself, but I would like to make it safe for someone else. Hopefully, the cycle will be broken one day,” 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.
The sister of James “Hank” Hankins misses her brother terribly. Here is her written version of his life story, from the time of his birth in 1958 in Hugo, Oklahoma, to the premature and sudden end of his life this year in Texarkana. The family plans to create a memorial garden and his scholarship fund in his honor. They don’t want to focus on the Bowie County authorities who seemed to have ignored his illlness and suffering. Instead they want to point out the value of Hank’s life and the great affection many people felt toward him. RIP Hank. We won’t forget you.