Lead Article

Non-Compliant Jails – TJCS Reports

Dec 18th, 2016 | By
Non-Compliant Jails – TJCS Reports

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) has four inspectors who conduct at least one inspection a year of the 245 county jails—to monitor whether they are in compliance with the Texas Minimum Jail Standards.* When jails are found to be out of compliance, the commission files a report which is used as the basis for inquiry at the quarterly hearings–attended by the Sheriffs–of the TCJS in Austin.
These reports are also available on the TCJS website but only until the jail gets back in compliance; then they are removed and the public cannot see, for example, if their jail was out of compliance last year and the reasons. Read on to see the 10 jails now out of compliance!



Inmates Die at a Faster Rate in Harris County Jail

Nov 10th, 2016 | By
Inmates Die at a Faster Rate in Harris County Jail

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards was tougher with Harris County Jail and their overcrowding issues at last week’s meeting. Probably because they’ve been getting “variances” since 2005. Variances: TEMPORARY exceptions to the regulations as in allowing Harris County to house people in a cell by adding “low riders” or other temporary beds.
While HCSO jail has to hold people who are not given bail or are assigned an unaffordably high bond, they are bound by law to ensure that those people are held safely and humanely. Not happening. We hope that the new sheriff, DA and judges will work together to stop the terrible dealths of people like Tamara Moe’s brother who die there while awaiting trial. Read on for a great Huffington Post piece.



Texas Justice Initiative: 7,000 Deaths in Custody

Oct 28th, 2016 | By
Texas Justice Initiative: 7,000 Deaths in Custody

The new well-designed website by Amanda Woog clarifies the way people die in custody in Texas, whether the person was held by police, by a local jail, or in a state prison. The first ever website of this kind points out the racial disparities as well as the high number of deaths of people unconvicted and uncharged. National attention to deaths in custody has been rising but most of all, the tragic death of Sandra Bland in Texas is shaking up public perceptions.
This Atlantic Magazine article praises TJI, pointing out that “Texas reflects a markedly high number of deaths in custody compared to national trends. The increased attention to suspicious cases such as Bland’s—which some see as representative of a deadly trend in over-policing of black citizens—magnifies the importance of this kind of tool, which allows anyone to study and analyze the data.”



Settlement from Waller and DPS for Bland Family

Sep 19th, 2016 | By
Settlement from Waller and DPS for Bland Family

Texas Jail Project often discovers hidden practices by jailers who mistreat or neglect people in their care—who fail to even consider them as human beings. Many of the lawsuits that result are settled with the stipulation that nobody talk about these practices, so the public never hears the truth. So while we’re glad the Bland family is getting some justice and financial satisfaction, we agree with Margaret Haule, founder of the Austin chapter of Black LIves Matter, who hopes some details aren’t lost behind a confidentiality agreement.
“That sometimes can make it harder for us to recover evidence of further practices of repeated abuse and abuse of power,” she said. Haule also made another good point: there needs to be more training and educational requirements for jail employees and better documentation of reported police misconduct.



Collin County investigated for firing gay jailer

Sep 1st, 2016 | By
Collin County investigated for firing gay jailer

Welcome to the Collin County Jail, where it’s acceptable to harrass and threaten a person on your staff because they are gay. This great story by John Wright from the Texas Observer examines what happens when the command staff of a jail is fine with discrimination and intimidation and hatred. Officer Derek Boyd describes how officials in the sheriff’s department “threatened and interrogated him, outed him to his colleagues, prohibited him from speaking publicly about the matter, and forced him to undergo a polygraph test, which he passed. Other detention officers even refused to respond to Boyd’s radio calls, jeopardizing his safety.” Boyd says , “I got things like, I don’t belong here, God has a special place for me in hell.”



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!



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.



Waco: Lawsuits and Violations in the Jack Harwell Jail

Dec 29th, 2015 | By
Waco: Lawsuits and Violations in the Jack Harwell Jail

TJP staff authored this Waco Tribune guest column about neglect, abuse, and death occurring in Waco’s privately run Jack Harwell jail. Here’s an excerpt: ” LaSalle Corrections is the for-profit company that runs the Jack Harwell Center for McLennan County.
‘We think they’re excellent operators and, unfortunately, sometimes things like this happen,’ said McLennan County Judge Scott Felton.
But that’s not what families with loved ones in that jail say.”