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2013 Legislature: No Study of Solitary?

May 15th, 2013 | By
2013 Legislature: No Study of Solitary?

County jails were kicked out of this bill due to opposition from the Texas Sheriffs Association and the Texas Association of Counties. Representatives Marquez and Guillen still have hopes for their bills, which would study the use of ad seg in the prisons and juvenile lockups, but even that is looking doubtful.
Within this well-written article by TT editor Brandi Grissom, TJP director Diana Claitor comments on the county sheriffs’ opposition:
“It’s a pitiful state of affairs when we’re all so concerned about the ever-increasing number of mentally ill in jails and we are not willing to at least try to look at some alternative solutions…”
[My apology for using the term “the mentally ill.” It should be “inmates with mental illness.” D. Claitor]



Bexar County Jailer Faked Records When Inmate Died

Apr 27th, 2013 | By

Texas Jail Project and others protested in San Antonio last fall, to call attention to the death of Tommy Taylor who died in the Bexar County Jail just six hours after turning himself in, August 21, 2012. Now comes a San Antonio Current story that a jailer did not do the mandatory cell check–jailers are required to check on “isolated inmates” in solitary cells every 30 minutes–and that might well have saved Taylor’s life. Jailer Ernesto Flores is accused of hiding that fact by falsifying the records so that it would appear he did check on Taylor. Another black mark on the Bexar County Jail–and this one resulted in an unnecessary death of a young man who, whatever his problems, was a father to his little girl and beloved of his whole family.



Why Not Look at County Jails Too?

Apr 20th, 2013 | By
Why Not Look at County Jails Too?

Can you call a Texas Senator’s office and voice your opinion? There is a good bill, Senate Bill 1003, that calls for a “review” or examination of how prisons and county jails use solitary confinement, especially on mentally ill inmates. The Sheriffs Association of Texas rode into the Senate hearing and demanded that they take out county jails–despite the fact that increasing numbers of mentally ill inmates are held for long periods in county jails. The sheriffs seem to be against this study by an outside expert simply because it would mean answering questions. But Senator Carona, author of SB 1003, is listening to the sheriffs and may remove county jails.
Please contact Senator Carona’s office to voice your opinion: do county jails need to stay in SB 1003?
Call the Austin office at 512 463-0116 or the Dallas office at (214) 378-5751 and let them know, please!



Gregg County Jail’s Deadly “Treatment”

Mar 27th, 2013 | By
Gregg County Jail’s Deadly “Treatment”

Another Longview mother saw her son die because of Gregg County’s policies last week.
“I told them he needed his medication,” said Betty Madewell, referring to 51-year-old Bobby Madewell. “His doctor had prescribed him Xanax, and I told them he needed his Xanax or he would start having seizures.”
(Click on CONTINUE READING to see the excellent story from the Longview News-Journal, a local paper holding county officials accountable. They asked challenging questions, provided the background of similar deaths there, and published the list of terrible symptoms accompanying Xanax withdrawal.)



Texas Jail Project Challenges Bexar County Jail

Mar 6th, 2013 | By

Our request for records from the Bexar County Jail revealed how a jail can gouge when it comes to the price of public information. TJP’s director describes the situation. “The whole point of getting this information was to help a family find out what happened to their son in the last hours of his life,” Claitor, who heads the nonprofit reform-minded Texas Jail Project, told the Current. “Essentially, it felt like a way of blocking the release of this information.”



Family Sues Nueces County Jail for Son’s Death

Feb 12th, 2013 | By
Family Sues Nueces County Jail for Son’s Death

Maurice Chammah’s story tells how the family has gone to the courts for justice after the death of a greatly beloved 29-year-old son in Corpus Christi. This lawsuit will, we hope, shine a light on the horrible neglect that Greg Cheek suffered while in the Nueces County Jail. Despite training and safeguards, jailers there failed to see past mental illness and blue paint covering Greg, and they ignored his symptoms for days and days.
Click on “Continue Reading” to see the Texas Tribune story. Go to the Inmate Stories section of our website to see tributes to Greg that we posted when we found out about his death back in 2011: http://66.7.194.211/~texasjai/category/inmate_stories/



Will Amy Lynn’s Death Change the Way Jails Operate?

Jan 28th, 2013 | By
Will Amy Lynn’s Death Change the Way Jails Operate?

This Longview News Journal article examines some of the many complications that occur when jails hold people with mental conditions and medications that are not on “their list,” but Amy Lynn’s mother puts forth a straightforward idea: couldn’t jail staff act with common sense “when inmates exhibit seizures, become incoherent, and howl,” like her daughter did?
The lawsuit again the Gregg County Jail has ended with a settlement, but the pain and questioning continues. Texas Jail Project, the Cowling family and many other families want to see officials work together, to find ways to prevent suffering and deaths in the future.



Harris County Jail: Mental Health Pioneers or Not?

Jan 16th, 2013 | By
Harris County Jail: Mental Health Pioneers or Not?

Texas Jail Project asks for input on the following blog about the Harris County Jail’s specialized psychiatric care. We also want to know if any other jails across Texas are creating similar mental health units or implementing “best practices” or training officers to help inmates with mental disorders, to prevent inmates from getting sicker or from committing suicide.

Author and retired deputy warden Carl ToersBijns says “events inside the Maricopa County Jail prompted me to look at other jails nationwide and seek the differences in both the operational aspect of things and the treatment levels of mentally ill inmates incarcerated in our jails and prisons…..



Gregg County on Trial in the Death of Amy Lynn

Jan 9th, 2013 | By
Gregg County on Trial in the Death of Amy Lynn

Amy Lynn Cowling’s day in court is finally here–not a moment too soon for her family. It’s been just a little over two years since her three teen-age children, her mother, and the rest of her family found out that Amy Lynn had died right after Christmas in the Gregg County Jail. Amy Lynn’s relatives say they will wear purple, because that was her favorite color, but they dread what they will hear in open court, because some of the details of Amy Lynn’s last hours are painful and heartrending. The federal trial against Gregg County begins January 22nd in the U.S. District Court at Marshall.
Please continue reading for the Longview News-Journal’s latest story as well as a link to the excellent Texas Tribune article from 2011 by Brandi Grissom.



Amy Lynn Cowling’s Day in Court is Here

Jan 9th, 2013 | By
Amy Lynn Cowling’s Day in Court is Here

By Glenn Evans, January 8, 2013, from the Longview News-Journal Two longtime teachers, a janitor and a self-described housewife were among eight people selected Monday to decide whether Gregg County is to blame for the 2010 death of a jail inmate. The federal jury panel is to begin hearing evidence Jan. 22 in the wrongful death suit