All entries by this author

Why is it important to differentiate between county jails & prisons?

Sep 18th, 2018 | By

You’re watching the news, and the reporter solemnly says a criminal will be spending his or her life in jail. Or describes a person languishing in prison waiting for trial.

It’s not going to happen! Why?

 “Jails” and “prisons” are not the same thing. We use the terms interchangeably—and incorrectly. Jails are run locally and most of the people held there are NOT yet convicted. The length of time people stay in jails varies from 1 day to many months. Prisons confine people who are convicted and sentenced to a certain amount of time, usually at least a year.

Accuracy in using these terms will improve public understanding of how the criminal justice system works. To ensure higher quality media coverage, reporters and commentators need to make the distinction plain. 



Chaplain Describes Jails’ Treatment of Families

Aug 8th, 2018 | By
Chaplain Describes Jails’ Treatment of Families

Deacon Bob spoke truth to the Commissioners and staff at the quarterly meeting of the Jail Commission. One of his important points: “It appears that the sheriff and local staff have little concern for families of those incarcerated and the important role they play. These sheriffs seem to forget they are elected by those in their community, who may have a loved one in their jail. I hear it said many times by families that feel like they are being treated as though they have committed a crime, as well. I realize that public safety is top priority for the county jails, but families can and should be treated with respect. Each of us were created in God’s image and likeness.”



Could this baby’s death have been prevented?

Jul 20th, 2018 | By
Could this baby’s death have been prevented?

In this new story from WFAA, top notch reporting reveals what happened to Shaye Bear as well as poor medical care for many pregnant inmates in Texas county jails. Tanya Eiserer and her team also expose punitive attitudes and blatant lies by Ellis County. The work of Texas Jail Project and observations from TJP’s director Diana Claitor provide context. Claitor commented that one serious problem is that many officers’  first reaction to an inmate’s complaints is that anything she says is a lie. But if the case of a pregnant inmate, another life is at stake if the jailer’s wrong, she said.
Ironically, Claitor co-authored a Dallas Morning News editorial just 4 years ago, about the tragic death of another baby, in the Wichita Falls County Jail. Read on for that.



Texas Jail Project is proud to announce that the Hogg Foundation is funding a two-year Peer Policy Fellowship at TJP!

May 11th, 2018 | By

Great news for our advocacy for people experiencing mental illness/substance abuse issues and involved in the criminal justice system! The Hogg Foundation is funding a position for “a Peer Policy Fellow who brings direct experience into the conversations about mental health, addiction, and criminal justice reform.” The mentor will be the renowned Dr. Lynda Frost, formerly associate director of the Hogg Foundation. With this position, our work and the lived experience of a peer policy fellow will advance important issues and increase awareness of stakeholders and the public.
Over the past 8 years, more than 75% of the emails and calls to our group have been complaints and cries for help regarding people experiencing mental illness while incarcerated in county jails. That category often includes pregnant women, veterans and people who are also ill with physical illnesses or disabilities. While some jail staff are trained in how to treat people living with mental illness, many officers are not and the rapid turnover in jail staff doesn’t help.



Maria Anna invites you to Jailhouse Stories

May 5th, 2018 | By
Maria Anna invites you to Jailhouse Stories

Maria Ana speaks about her son’s experience of being held pretrial in a Texas county jail for 3 years and asks others to tell their stories.



The Next Jail Commission meeting: Nov. 1st

Apr 30th, 2018 | By
The Next Jail Commission meeting: Nov. 1st

Each meeting starts at 9 am sharp, and anyone can attend! If you want to make some comments during public input, be early to get a seat and ready to talk by 9:05. Many people 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. And please let the Texas Jail Project know, too! Read on for more info on TCJS and how it operates.



First United Methodist Women’s Group of Hempstead

Apr 8th, 2018 | By

TJP’s Krishnaveni Gundu has recently spoken on the nuances and unique circumstances faced by incarcerated juveniles, women, and their family members in Texas County Jails at Rothko Chapel, the First United Methodist Women’s Group of Hempstead, and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s Spring meeting.



Marc McILwain: He will always be part of us

Feb 2nd, 2018 | By
Marc McILwain: He will always be part of us

Marc Bryant McIlwain was born October 4, 1986, and he died on July 11, 2009, in the  San Jacinto County Jail at Coldsprings, Texas. He was held pretrial from the end of May on and never got to see the judge. “I had three boys, Marc being the middle child, and I loved all my boys



We are answering more critical calls and we need your help ….please!

Dec 28th, 2017 | By
We are answering more critical calls and we need your help ….please!

Our months of advocacy resulted in a Texas family’s loved one being moved to a psychiatric hospital after 7 months in an isolation cell. Her sister (left) met with TJP’s director in person for the first time this month. Wendolyn Lacy says,
“I am speechless—WE ARE SO GRATEFUL. We understand we can say thanks all day, but donations are what you guys need to keep y’all going and help folks like my sister.”

Please donate today! New: Donate in the name of a loved one or a person who values justice for all. We will place his/her name in the new “Texas Jail Project Honor Roll” on our front page.



Bail roulette: how the same minor crime can cost $250 or $10,000

Sep 20th, 2017 | By
Bail roulette: how the same minor crime can cost $250 or $10,000

Depending on where you are, bail for a minor misdemeanor can vary from $250 to $10,000 and as they say in this article, “Decisions can vary widely depending on a defendant’s race and the judge they see.” Sound arbitrary and unfair? You got that right. Many of 65,000 people sitting in Texas county jails tonight are there just because they or their family does not have the money for bail and that bail may be high because of the color of their skin. And those thousands of unconvicted people, charged with nonviolent crimes, are often locked in those cells with violent offenders. This Guardian story compares the wildly different bails set for minor charges in California and Florida, but the same is true in the great state of Texas.