Each meeting starts at 9 am, and anyone can attend! You can speak during public input, which is at the very beginning, but the commissioners and staffers pay attention but do not respond. They will allow public speakers about 3 minutes. (You can also give them a letter.) Meetings occur in Austin every 3 months,on the first Thursday of that month. Continue for more info about the meetings of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
“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.”
County commissioners and law enforcement across Texas often talk a good game about reducing recidivism and diverting people with mental illness. However, at the same time, many officials—and the jailhouse culture—erect barriers to programming that could help inmates while they are incarcerated. Romy Zarate says such programs can turn a life around. “I was probably in the county jail about four times. Without the programming, I was in and out,” says Zarate. “When I was in, I was planning where I would score when I got out; after the programming, I stayed out.”
Each meeting starts at 9 am, and anyone can attend! You can speak during public input, which is at the very beginning, but the commissioners and staffers will simply listen and will not respond to you at that time. They will allow public speakers about 9 am; limit your remarks to 3 minutes. (You can also give them a letter.) Meetings occur in Austin every 3 months,on the first Thursday of that month. Continue for a link that with more info about meetings of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
Look into the eyes of Ron Converse, to understand the cost of no regulations of city jails. His son, a 26-year-old welder from Wisconsin named Chad Silvis, killed himself in the Kemah City Jail after being arrested for public intoxication. He was pretrial, thus still innocent.
City jailers in Texas don’t have to meet the minimum standards that county jails do. State officials aren’t even sure how many city jails are operating across Texas, but estimate there are at least 350. Diana Claitor, director of the Texas Jail Project, describes this death as an unnecessary tragedy for families. She said, “People have blinders on and don’t seem to be willing to work on this issue of suicides in jails.”
Read St. John Barned-Smith’s story to find out how such tragedies can be prevented.
Each month Texas county jails tally the number of pregnant inmates and report that to the Jail Commission. Some are only held there a few days, but others may be incarcerated for weeks and months and a number will deliver their babies in local hospitals while in custody.