All entries by this author

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.



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.”



RIP Amy Lynn Cowling, 1977–2010

May 12th, 2016 | By
RIP Amy Lynn Cowling, 1977–2010

From Amy’s mother, Vicki: “Her favorite flower was tropicana roses. She loved cats alot and she loved family memoriablia—always holding onto anything to do with the family. She had a thing with goodie bracelets and bows in her hair always.
Her favorite drink was Dr. Pepper as her father worked at the Dr. Pepper plant that was in Mt. Pleasant and Mt. Vernon for like 25 years, until he passed away in 2005.
Her favorite color was purple, and one year she decorated a Christmas tree all in purple. That is why at her funeral last month, we did a purple Christmas tree—since she missed this Christmas and died right afterwards.”



Inmate dies after Harris County jailhouse beating

May 6th, 2016 | By

Diana Claitor, executive director of the Austin-based Texas Jail Project, said the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death made her question whether Harris County jails were adequately staffed and supervised. Claitor said Texas county jails generally have a high employee turnover rate.

“But certainly in holding cells where … a lot of different people (are) held together, there should be a lot of supervision,” Claitor said. “And especially if they have video, why are they not keeping up with the situation better?”



A Pattern of Assaults & Deaths in Harris County Jail

Apr 1st, 2016 | By
A Pattern of Assaults & Deaths in Harris County Jail

People are dying while awaiting disposition of their cases in Houston.
“Ellis and Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, another critic of the bail system, have said nonviolent offenders – especially those arrested for misdemeanors – should not be jailed while awaiting a trial.”



Bail System Keeps Unconvicted in Texas Jails

Mar 26th, 2016 | By
Bail System Keeps Unconvicted in Texas Jails

by Lynda Frost, Austin-American Statesman, March 25, 2016
It seems like a simple series of events: Someone is arrested and charged with a crime. They have a hearing. The judge orders bail in order to either keep them off the street if they are considered dangerous or to increase the odds that they’ll show up for court. End of story.
What’s obscured by that simple and deceptive story is that the actual bail system in Texas — and nearly every other state — too often serves to punish poverty, exacerbate mental illness and burden the state with unnecessary costs while failing to make the public any safer.
It doesn’t have to be this way.