About Us

The mission of Texas Jail Project is to empower Texas families to find services and solutions for incarcerated loved ones in crisis and to transform Texas county jails into more humane, healthier facilities.

Executive Director:
Diana Claitor

Peer policy fellow*: Kevin Garrett

Board of Directors

Krishnaveni Gundu, President and Co-founder

Matthew Gossage, Treasurer
Greg Hansch, Secretary
Maria Anna Esparza
David Hanson
Marietta Noel
Eric Tang
Alycia Welch

 

Advisory Board members:
Fran ClarkMatt Simpson, Sarah Sloan

*Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

Diversity Statement

TJP’s board members include men and women who are of various races and nationalities, and who come to the issue of jail reform from distinct political vantage points and personal experiences. The TJP Board includes an educator/community organizer, a mental health advocate, a crimininal justice policy expert, mental health policy expert, attorney, a mathematician/environmental activist, a documentarian-videographer, and a software engineer/product manager/graphics designer. Our board’s diversity, however, runs much deeper than these array of vocations. We are also people of color, LGBTQ, and from a range of religious and non-religious traditions.

Because TJP seeks to improve on our inclusiveness and to reflect the community we serve, all members of the board and staff have signed the following diversity statement:

—The TJP board and staff will actively seek new board members who reflect the community we serve, i.e. board members who are people of color, people with low income, people who identify as LGBTQ, people formerly incarcerated, and people living with mental conditions. We also seek a balance of gender and age and bilingual Spanish/English abilities, with a goal of ten board members by the end of 2017.

—To include more perspectives directly relating to the people we serve, TJP shall strive to include people of color and those formerly incarcerated in staff positions.

—The TJP board and staff shall encourage a more diverse group of volunteers from marginalized communities in all parts of Texas.

Our Work

Current county jail procedures are devastating the lives and mental health of inmates, many of whom are inside for low-level, non-violent offenses. We seek to

  • improve the treatment of the approximately 65,000 people—mothers, fathers, brothers, sons, sisters, daughters, and friends—who are incarcerated in Texas county jails on any given day;
  • provide information, strategies and solutions to families and friends of  loved ones enduring neglect and poor medical care in county jails;
  • give voice to people in jail and their loved ones, to ensure that their humanity is respected and their problems recognized;
  • to make sure that staff receives appropriate support and training and that officers and officials are held accountable;
  • write articles, contribute to news reports, raise awareness and support positive action from lawmakers, the media, and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

 Our Issue Areas

  • Women and Pregnant Women in County Jails
  • The 241 Texas county jails hold approximately 450 pregnant inmates on any given day. This initiative works to ensure that they are not shackled during childbirth, and monitors conditions, including their medical and dietary needs, in accordance with HB 3653 and 3654. In 2015, we spoke to lawmakers about the need for more data and for implementation; HB 1140 was passed and signed into law, requiring a detailed survey of each jail’s policies and practices regarding pregnant women. In 2017 more legistlation was filed, and presently, three bills are proposed.
  • Special Populations
    This program collects stories and advocates for best jail practices with regard to persons  experiencing mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, veteran status, as well as people with LGBTQ identities and those who are undocumented immigrants. Our work within the Justice and Mental Health Coalition supports various pieces of legislation that will benefit families advocating for loved ones experiencing mental illness while in a county jail.
  • Effects of Pretrial Detention
    More than 60% of the people held in the average jail in Texas are pretrial detainees. TJP seeks to publicize the negative effects of that incarceration, as well as the racial disproportionality of pretrial detention which more often affects people of color. Those held in pretrial detention for extended periods also includes those people with mental disorders and veterans experiencing PTSD and other mental illnesses. Our collection of personal narratives at Jailhouse Stories: Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas educates officials, community leaders and media about the negative effects of incarcerating people who could be out on bail or in diversion programs.
  • Data Collection and Transparency

Our History

Diane Wilson, a writer-activist and 4th generation shrimper, was incarcerated in the Victoria County Jail for her environmental protest in 2006. She and three other women: Ann Wright, the nationally-known peace activist and retired U.S. Army Colonel; Houston activist Krishnaveni (Kinnu) Gundu and Austin writer/historian Diana Claitor joined to start an organization to call attention to how conditions in the local county jails are often unsafe, inhumane and detrimental to mental and physical health, damaging inmates, their families and entire communities.

Co-founders Diane Wilson & Diana Claitor wait to speak at a 2011 hearing about the dangers of nighttime releases at Harris County Jail.

TJP has also worked with various churches, the Texas ACLU, the Catholic Conference of Texas, the Hogg Foundation, Grassroots Leadership,  the Texas Civil Rights Project and national groups such as MomsRising, the Rebecca Project, Lamda Legal, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and the Marshall Project in support of investigations of conditions of confinement.

TJP’s director and volunteers collect information by:

  • attending the quarterly meetings and workshops of the Texas Commission for Jail Standards
  • soliciting stories and input to be posted as “Inmate Stories” or included in Jailhouse Stories: Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas
  • speaking with jailers and administrators of county lockups
  • engaging in dialogue with volunteeers and administrators of non-profits and church groups who also work to improve conditions and facilitate programs in jails, especially for women.
TJP’s website, which received more than 104,000 visitors in 2017, provides a wide range of essential information for families navigating the criminal justice system:
  • a link to the online form where people can report on conditions and ask questions
  • a medical release form with directions so families can obtain and give information
  • a habeas corpus form for attorneys to petition the court to transfer a person who has been declared incompetent to stand trial to a hospital or medical facility
  • directions on what steps a family can take to advocate for a loved one incarcerated while experiencing mental illness.
  • tips on visitation and locations of jails
  • lists of other resources, organizations and government agencies that may be helpful for families of inmates and inmates themselves.

Texas Jail Project is NOT a government agency but a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The official name the Secretary of State website is The Jail Project of Texas, doing business as Texas Jail Project.

2015 Form 990

2014 Form 990

2013 Form 990