In 2008, the federal Bureau of Prisons passed a policy prohibiting the use of restraints on women in custody who are in labor, delivery or postpartum recovery. In 2009, Texas passed a law banning the use of shackles on incarcerated pregnant women during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. But, as both the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Jail Project have found, for women in the state’s prisons, mental hospitals, and county jails, the law has not always been put into practice.
Posts Tagged ‘ solitary confinement ’
The American Friends report to the UN describes the inhumanity of the U.S. justice system and the mistreatment of humans in our prisons and jails. Family members across Texas are reporting on similar conditions in many in our Texas county jails. Will Texas legislators step up and demand changes?
“At the close of 2012, the U.S. led the world in incarceration rates1 with over 2.2 million adults held in prisons and jails. Why is this the case? Deeply flawed policies focusing on punishment − not healing or rehabilitation − have created a pipeline through which economically disadvantaged populations are funneled into prisons and jails. Incarcerated individuals are frequently exposed to deplorable, cruel, and dangerous conditions of confinement that no human being should experience.”
Attention: Nacogdoches County
When jailers and sheriffs disapprove of an inmate, does that give them the right to deny that person fair treatment? Humane conditions? A trained jailer should surely know that the answer is “no,” and that verbal abuse and judgmental attitudes can be disastrous for inmates with serious problems. Like Cathryn Windham, 7 months pregnant and currently incarcerated in your county jail. Pre-trial, convicted of nothing but accused of many things. All of which may not even be true. This college graduate has a long-documented history of mental illness and yes, she has used drugs. And so it would appear that you have found her guilty of being an imperfect mother-to-be. I suggest the jail, sheriff, and this county are failing her by not recognizing mental disorders in a pregnant woman are a complicated business, and not necessarily deserving of hostility and punishment.
A wife reports serious neglect: “My husband is in the Harris County jail right now and they lowered the dosage of a psych med for PTSD, if they give it to him at all. He also has a severe calcium deficiency and no one bothers to give him the calcium packets anymore after he was moved
During the last session, we informed lawmakers about the need for study of how county jails use solitary confinement or seclusion cells for housing mentally ill inmates. But the Texas Sheriffs Association and others forced the removal of county jails from SB 1003, and the questions remain. Reporters and lawyers and families ask us for information and the jails stonewall everyone, as more and more cases are revealed, where mentally ill people are being locked in solitary cells for weeks and months–growing sicker and often committing suicide. Here is the one page information handout we have on use of seclusion; let us know if you’d like to help us work on this issue.
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]
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!
“Unlock The Box: The Fight Against Solitary Confinement in New York” reveals how the fight against the use of solitary confinement is spreading as grim accounts and numbers reveal the overuse of isolation. Bonnie Kerness, director of the Prison Watch Project from the American Friends Service Committee, has spoken out about this most punitive and damaging form of incarceration for years. Here in Texas, a bill has been filed to curtail the use of prolonged isolation in state prisons, juvenile facilities, and county jails.
Friends and loved ones of inmates in Comal County Jail tell us this: 1. First of all, it helps to look at their website, and check out the visitation schedule – but sometimes they don’t tell everything you need to know. 2. Write to your loved one and tell him to put you on their visitor list.
“How is it that a 15 year old….who the country labels worthless to the economy – how is it that this child who has no hope of getting a job or affording college – can suddenly generate 20 to 30 thousand dollars a year once trapped in the criminal justice system? The expansion of prisons,