All entries by this author

Collin County investigated for firing gay jailer

Sep 1st, 2016 | By
Collin County investigated for firing gay jailer

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.”



Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas

Aug 22nd, 2016 | By
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, 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.



Jailer admitted falsifying log in Sandra Bland case, says lawyer

Jul 26th, 2016 | By

By Gabrielle Banks & St. John Barned-Smith, July 21, 2016, Houston Chronicle The lawyer for Sandra Bland’s mother said a former Waller County Jail guard told him under oath that he falsified entries on a jail log, indicating he checked on Bland in the hour before she was found dead when he did not. But the lawyer for Waller County,



Four Suicides in Bexar Jail in Three Weeks

Jul 25th, 2016 | By

Bexar County has received accolades for its reformed mental health care system, especially in terms of screening and pretrial services to divert people with mental disorders away from the county jail. That is well and good, but each time we’ve looked at the situation, two things come to light: a. only a small percentage of people with disorders are diverted and b. people actually held there are often neglected or not cared for properly. Whether or not these four individuals were ill, something is wrong when so many people manage to end their lives in such a short period. Texas Jail Project hopes the families of these individuals are treated with some respect and get some answers to their questions.



Thursday, August 3rd: Jail Commission meeting in Austin

Jul 10th, 2016 | By
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.



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

Jul 7th, 2016 | By
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 …”



Lawsuit Reveals Shocking Abuse in Victoria County Jail

Jun 7th, 2016 | By
Lawsuit Reveals Shocking Abuse in Victoria County Jail

We tend to think that there is someone holding jails accountable for how they treat people with mental disorders, but this new lawsuit by the watchdog group, Texas Disability Rights, proves that terrible things are still happening and that jails have to be sued to make any changes. Since this lawsuit was filed in June, Texas Jail Project has received more complaints about Victoria County Jail, including one from a mother of a man who has mental disabilitiies and a serious phyical illness that is not being treated. When will the Texas Commission on Jail Standards take action to transform this sick jail?



Trapped in Texas: Announcing 30 First-Person Stories of Pre-trial Detention

Jun 2nd, 2016 | By
Trapped in Texas: Announcing 30 First-Person Stories of Pre-trial Detention

The international human rights organization Fair Trials published a profile of our Jailhouse Stories project today. We are glad that people across the world will learn about inhumane conditions in Texas jails–and learn about them in the voices of regular people. It’s a global movement!



RIP Greg Cheek: One of Us

May 25th, 2016 | By
RIP Greg Cheek: One of Us

From his wife and the mother of his little girl: “Miss and love ya! Greg was a good friend, a loving father, a talented surfer, painter, and had a heart of gold. My husband battled mental health issues and as we all know Texas cut the budget for mental health a huge amount…”



Harris County Lawsuit: Bail Penalizes Poor People

May 25th, 2016 | By
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.”