All entries by this author

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consequences on inmates due to inadequate medical care, including deficiencies in staff training and the reliance on an outdated tracking system.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



Nathan King’s Mother Remembers Her Loving Son

Sep 28th, 2015 | By
Nathan King’s Mother Remembers Her Loving Son

Nathan D. King was part of the Livingston, Texas community when he died at the age of 37 in 2015. He was also part of a close family, and his mother, Mrs. Timmie King, has plenty of memories, such as how much he loved her cooking, animals, football, and , of course, his three children.



The Death Of Victoria Gray: How Texas Jails Are Failing Their Most Vulnerable Captives

Sep 16th, 2015 | By
The Death Of Victoria Gray: How Texas Jails Are Failing Their Most Vulnerable Captives

Just over a year ago, 18-year-old Victoria was found hanging from a bookshelf inside her isolated jail cell. An investigation into her death exposed that jailers, in direct violation of the law, failed to check on her nearly a dozen times and failed to contact a judge for days despite her mental health screening results. In honor of Victoria, Think Progress took a closer look at suicides in Texas jails and found a deadly and systemic pattern of neglect. “A lot of people don’t realize how much damage can be done to individuals in the county jails,” says Texas Jail Project’s Executive Director, Diana Claitor.



Video: Carlota Torres reads her touching letter

Sep 16th, 2015 | By
Video: Carlota Torres reads her touching letter

Carlota and Gregorio Torres met with us in San Antonio while they awaited what they thought would be the relase of their son,
but he was held for several more months.



Two Texas counties to restart in-person jail visits

Sep 10th, 2015 | By

“The decision marks a small victory for inmate advocates, who’ve pushed to protect in-person visits in as many county jails as possible. But it also means that nearly 30 counties — including Denton County — will get to maintain restrictions on those traditional meetings [offering video visitation only].”



Unanswered Questions in Jailhouse Suicide

Sep 4th, 2015 | By
Unanswered Questions in Jailhouse Suicide

How did Athena Covarrubias manage to hang herself in a shower stall?

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, a few minutes after 10am, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office sent notice of what will likely be recognized as Texas’ 30th suicide in a county jail this year. The news came just as Lt. Gov.Dan Patrick and Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chair of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee, were decrying the fact that the state had already recorded 29. Since 2012, 100 have suffered self-inflicted deaths in Texas jails



Expecting Care: The shameful truth about how pregnant women are treated in Texas county jails

Aug 19th, 2015 | By

Outside of the lockups, few know how pregnant women are treated. But for years, Diana Claitor, co-founder and director of the Texas Jail Project, has been trying to get a glimpse inside. Her approach is to work with inmates and families to navigate the system, instructing them on how to file complaints and get help when they need it. In the process, she’s learned a lot about how jails fail pregnant women.

One of the first calls Claitor remembers came in 2007 from a woman whose daughter had miscarried while in jail. She asked Claitor how she could recover the body of her grandchild.

“It was so sad and such a desperate outreach from an older woman who knew of no one to go to,” Claitor said. As word of her organization spread online, she began hearing from more and more women—an outpouring that is reflected in recent data.