All entries by this author

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



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.



Who in the World is in Favor of Cash Bail?

Sep 2nd, 2017 | By
Who in the World is in Favor of Cash Bail?

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times, Aug. 25, 2017

Pretty much everyone who spends any time examining the American system of secured cash bail comes away with the same conclusion: It’s unjust, expensive and ineffective, even counterproductive. People charged with crimes — all of whom are presumed innocent — get locked up for days, weeks or months not because they pose a risk of fleeing or endangering the public but simply because they’re too poor to buy their freedom.



Harris County Jail: A Nutritional Survey of Pregnant Inmates

Aug 21st, 2017 | By
Harris County Jail: A Nutritional Survey of Pregnant Inmates

Earlier this year, a 22 year old graduate student named Kristina Sadler, working on her Masters in Social Work at the University of Houston, found herself thinking about the plight of pregnant inmates in the county jails of Texas. Not prisons, but county jails where a majority of the population is pre-trial detainees. In particular, most women detainees are in there for minor misdemeanors related to poverty, substance abuse/possession or mental health issues. Rarely for violent crimes.



#SandraBlandAct is good despite the many misses

Aug 9th, 2017 | By
#SandraBlandAct is good despite the many misses

Grits for Breakfast blogger Scott Henson makes the point that reforms and real oversight of jails must be informed by knowledge and experience: “Grits would rather Texas Commission on Jail Standards be given investigators to review the ~101 jail deaths per year themselves instead of appointing another law enforcement agency. Other local agencies won’t typically have experience performing investigations in a correctional institution, which is a different kettle of fish from investigations in the free world.” Texas Jail Project frequently has to explain how different that kettle of fish is in discussions with advocates and lawmakers who don’t have experience with carceral settings.



We miss you, our dear precious Hank

Jul 20th, 2017 | By
We miss you, our dear precious Hank

Hank’s sister says: He loved the outdoors and was always hunting and fishing. He was passing these passions on to his grandson Devin before he was suddenly taken from him. He took him on many camping and fishing trips. In June 2012, he took five kids on a fishing expedition and they caught over fifty fish.
He was loved by all who knew him. We plan on purchasing a bench and creating a memory garden for James in the near future. We want this to be visible for everyone in Bowie County to see as a reminder of his tragic and unnecessary death inside the jail.



WALLER COUNTY Chelsea Schehr’s Story

Jul 18th, 2017 | By

TJP’s executive director Diana Claitor was quoted in this Houston Chronicle article about the shameful treatment of a mother in Waller County jail.   http://texasjailproject.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=5775&action=edit



Nathan Green tragedy in Slate magazine article

Jun 22nd, 2017 | By
Nathan Green tragedy in Slate magazine article

TJP highlighted the tragic death of Nathan Green from the first moment we heard from his loving family in Livingston, Texas. It was inconceivable that a healthy man could contract TB in the jail and not be treated or his family notified until he was unconscious in a local hospital. Now Slate, a national online magazine, found his story through our website “Jailhouse Stories: Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas” and interviewed the family to feature in their article on deaths in custody. (go to next page for Slate link & story)
Texas Jail Project has come to know Nathan’s family and other Livingston families who have lost loved ones to the Polk County criminal justice system. We are proud of how they are pursuing justice like they did at the recent legislature and are now doing in the courts. The family keeps Nathan’s light shining.



Waller County Needs to Replace Outdated Jail

Apr 27th, 2017 | By
Waller County Needs to Replace Outdated Jail

The Houston Chronicle continues its ongoing coverage of problems in county jails that can and do affect thousands of Texans who are held in them before ever being “convicted criminals.” In this new story about Waller Jail, where Sandra Bland died, we see some of the many reasons a jail is classified as substandard. TJP’s director is quoted, saying,
“An updated facility would allow for better supervision and use of staff, but county commissioners often reject building new jails,” said Diana Claitor of the Texas Jail Project. “The public can also push back against funding such projects, not grasping how essential they are to the health of the community.”

“It’s easily put at the bottom of the list of what the county needs, and it should be at the top,” she said.



Travis County pretrial release system

Apr 26th, 2017 | By

One reason Texas has so many people held pretrial in county jails— resulting in high numbers of deaths due to medical neglect and suicide—is that out of 254 counties, only 5 use risk assessment tools that give the county a good way to release people without cash bond. …

Turns out “Travis County’s risk-informed pretrial release system removes poverty as an impediment to release, creating a fairer system for defendants,” and at the same time, saves the county money and results in fewer future problems for defendants.