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Kandace in the Jefferson County Jail

Sep 29th, 2017 | By
Kandace in the Jefferson County Jail

Jarvis Cooper emailed the Texas Jail Project a message with the subject line “please help” on July 11th. He was reaching out for his partner, Kandace Washington, a 22-year-old woman more than six months pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy, incarcerated in the county jail in Beaumont. Before she was arrested on a nonviolent charge, she had been regularly seeing doctors at the University of Texas Medical Branch and doing her best to stay healthy.
“When I was booked in, I told them my UTMB doctor explained the high risk pregnancy,” said Kandace. “But I don’t know if they ever got [my medical records] at the jail.”



Bail roulette: how the same minor crime can cost $250 or $10,000

Sep 20th, 2017 | By
Bail roulette: how the same minor crime can cost $250 or $10,000

Depending on where you are, bail for a minor misdemeanor can vary from $250 to $10,000 and as they say in this article, “Decisions can vary widely depending on a defendant’s race and the judge they see.” Sound arbitrary and unfair? You got that right. Many of 65,000 people sitting in Texas county jails tonight are there just because they or their family does not have the money for bail and that bail may be high because of the color of their skin. And those thousands of unconvicted people, charged with nonviolent crimes, are often locked in those cells with violent offenders. This Guardian story compares the wildly different bails set for minor charges in California and Florida, but the same is true in the great state of Texas.



Who in the World is in Favor of Cash Bail?

Sep 2nd, 2017 | By
Who in the World is in Favor of Cash Bail?

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times, Aug. 25, 2017

Pretty much everyone who spends any time examining the American system of secured cash bail comes away with the same conclusion: It’s unjust, expensive and ineffective, even counterproductive. People charged with crimes — all of whom are presumed innocent — get locked up for days, weeks or months not because they pose a risk of fleeing or endangering the public but simply because they’re too poor to buy their freedom.



#SandraBlandAct is good despite the many misses

Aug 9th, 2017 | By
#SandraBlandAct is good despite the many misses

Grits for Breakfast blogger Scott Henson makes the point that reforms and real oversight of jails must be informed by knowledge and experience: “Grits would rather Texas Commission on Jail Standards be given investigators to review the ~101 jail deaths per year themselves instead of appointing another law enforcement agency. Other local agencies won’t typically have experience performing investigations in a correctional institution, which is a different kettle of fish from investigations in the free world.” Texas Jail Project frequently has to explain how different that kettle of fish is in discussions with advocates and lawmakers who don’t have experience with carceral settings.



Nathan Green tragedy in Slate magazine article

Jun 22nd, 2017 | By
Nathan Green tragedy in Slate magazine article

TJP highlighted the tragic death of Nathan Green from the first moment we heard from his loving family in Livingston, Texas. It was inconceivable that a healthy man could contract TB in the jail and not be treated or his family notified until he was unconscious in a local hospital. Now Slate, a national online magazine, found his story through our website “Jailhouse Stories: Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas” and interviewed the family to feature in their article on deaths in custody. (go to next page for Slate link & story)
Texas Jail Project has come to know Nathan’s family and other Livingston families who have lost loved ones to the Polk County criminal justice system. We are proud of how they are pursuing justice like they did at the recent legislature and are now doing in the courts. The family keeps Nathan’s light shining.



Waller County Needs to Replace Outdated Jail

Apr 27th, 2017 | By
Waller County Needs to Replace Outdated Jail

The Houston Chronicle continues its ongoing coverage of problems in county jails that can and do affect thousands of Texans who are held in them before ever being “convicted criminals.” In this new story about Waller Jail, where Sandra Bland died, we see some of the many reasons a jail is classified as substandard. TJP’s director is quoted, saying,
“An updated facility would allow for better supervision and use of staff, but county commissioners often reject building new jails,” said Diana Claitor of the Texas Jail Project. “The public can also push back against funding such projects, not grasping how essential they are to the health of the community.”

“It’s easily put at the bottom of the list of what the county needs, and it should be at the top,” she said.



Travis County pretrial release system

Apr 26th, 2017 | By

One reason Texas has so many people held pretrial in county jails— resulting in high numbers of deaths due to medical neglect and suicide—is that out of 254 counties, only 5 use risk assessment tools that give the county a good way to release people without cash bond. …

Turns out “Travis County’s risk-informed pretrial release system removes poverty as an impediment to release, creating a fairer system for defendants,” and at the same time, saves the county money and results in fewer future problems for defendants.



Help us help Texans today and every day

Mar 1st, 2017 | By
Help us help Texans today and every day

The King, Bogany and Wills families, with historic roots in Polk County, all lost their sons in the Polk County criminal justice system. We were honored that they stopped by our office to express appreciation for the encouragement and information Texas Jail Project has given them.
They hope you will encourage us too, by donating to TJP, by check or Pay Pal. (See our donate button on this page) Continue on, to read the first hand accounts of the King family that are part of our Jailhouse Stories collection.



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.