All entries by this author

Bonding Behind Bars

Dec 2nd, 2015 | By

The Travis County jail is one of four nationwide — and the only in Texas — to allow new moms to breastfeed in custody.

“It’s in the interest of everybody to really assist a woman in that situation to rebuild her life and create a healthy home for her child,” said Diana Claitor, director of the nonprofit Texas Jail Project.

Calls for training, better cell checks follow Harris County Jail suicides

Dec 1st, 2015 | By
Calls for training, better cell checks follow Harris County Jail suicides

Diana Claitor, director of the Texas Jail Project, which advocates for inmates, said both city and county jailers need better pay and training, especially for performing intake screenings.

“If there’s better pay and more training with (a) focus on caring for inmates, we’d have more officers who were more concerned and more careful,” she said.

Fort Bend sheriff pushes back against criticism over jail suicides

Nov 30th, 2015 | By
Fort Bend sheriff pushes back against criticism over jail suicides

TJP director Diana Claitor spoke to Houston Chronicle reporter Emily Foxhall about the number of suicides in Fort Bend county’s jail. That jail in fast-growing Fort Bend currently holds 850 to 1,000 inmates on a given day.
“Of those incarcerated in county jails statewide, more than 60 percent have not been convicted yet,” said Claitor, and “if they cannot post bail, they must remain in an atmosphere that can be hostile, depressing and even threatening.” She went on to say that much of the time, people are treated in a generalized way: “They’re all the enemy.” Sheriff Troy Nehls defended his staff and said that the state of Texas had failed by not funding adequate mental health care.

Harris County Jail considered ‘unsafe and unhealthy’ for inmates, public

Nov 25th, 2015 | By
Harris County Jail considered ‘unsafe and unhealthy’ for inmates, public

Ahmed Elsweisy felt nauseated, 24 hours into every diabetic’s worst nightmare. He’d been arrested on a DWI charge and booked into the Harris County Jail early one morning in September without insulin – and nobody seemed to care. Ahmed Elsweisy had successfully managed his diabetes since being diagnosed as a child at age 11. But he almost did not survive his first and only arrest. Here he poses for a portrait during an interview in his attorney’s office Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Houston. (Continue/click through to see three excellent videos of Elsweisy and others in this outstanding story from the Houston Chronicle)

Voices from Solitary: Pregnant in Prison, Birth in Shackles

Oct 31st, 2015 | By

In 2008, the federal Bureau of Prisons passed a policy prohibiting the use of restraints on women in custody who are in labor, delivery or postpartum recovery. In 2009, Texas passed a law banning the use of shackles on incarcerated pregnant women during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. But, as both the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Jail Project have found, for women in the state’s prisons, mental hospitals, and county jails, the law has not always been put into practice.

Inmate Advocates Relieved by Ruling on Phone Charges

Oct 26th, 2015 | By

San Antonio Express News By Mike Ward and St. John Barned-Smith Austin Bureau FCC Calls Rates ‘Egregious’ Prison advocates on Thursday hailed a Federal Communications Commission ruling that slashed “unconscionable and egregious” rates for telephone calls from jails and prisons, a move that could benefit thousands of Texas families with incarcerated loved ones. In Texas,

The Austin Chronicle Best of Austin 2015 – Best Justice for Mamas Behind Bars: Texas Jail Project, ACLU of Texas, and MamaSana

Oct 9th, 2015 | By

For the first time ever, Texas county jails will be required to report on how they care for pregnant inmates – to ‘fess up about food, bedding, and medical care. That’s thanks to hard work by the Texas Jail Project, the ACLU of Texas, and Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman. The three groups joined forces to protect pregnant mothers in county jails this legislative session by helping get HB 1140 passed. The law requires accountability, transparency, and solid data to improve the lives of mamas behind bars.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office Management Failures: Inadequate Medical Care at the Harris County Jail

Oct 9th, 2015 | By

Alycia Welch MPAff, MSSW
This reports investigates the failures of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) in relation to hundreds of jail deaths that occurred to predominantly pre-trial inmates. This agency analysis focuses on the failures of the HCSO to provide adequate medical care to inmates and suggests potential reforms for ensuring access by the inmates to adequate care. The report also examines the administrative and management issues contributing to the health consequences on inmates due to inadequate medical care, including deficiencies in staff training and the reliance on an outdated tracking system.

How to help a person with mental illness who has been arrested

Oct 9th, 2015 | By
How to help a person with mental illness who has been arrested

Having a loved one arrested who has mental health issues is a scary and overwhelming situation. Family members are often forced to become advocates, to ensure their loved ones get the proper mental health screening, medications, and treatment. They can make an important difference in how the person in jail is treated.

Here is list of first steps to take to advocate for your loved one’s safety and health.

When a loved one with mental disorders is arrested

Oct 1st, 2015 | By

If your loved one has a mental health diagnosis and is arrested, it can be helpful to fax a letter to the county jail and request that your loved one be screened for placement in a mental health unit. (Or you can deliver your letter in person to the jail.) Here are instructions for what information