Excellent news from California: for the first time, judges are questioning and stopping the unfair practice of courts demanding bail before drivers are allowed to challenge traffic tickets. The practice had been applied unevenly across California, and just like in Texas, it unfairly affects the poorest among us. In April, legal advocates published a report on the four million Californians who do not have a driver’s license because they either failed to appear or pay up. It’s more than 2 million in Texas! Think about how a change in this practice would mean fewer people in jail, who are also able to drive to their job, stay with their families, and live their lives.
- Texas could do this: No more bail for traffic tickets!
- County Jail Survey
- A New Look at Jails and Prisons
- A Caldwell County Mother Remembers
- Marshall Project’s video: Jail is not Prison!
- The risk for diabetics in county jails
- El Paso: Save $$, reduce number of inmates
- Mom glad to see Harris Co improve
- Widespread abuse of pregnant inmates
- Maria Anna invites you to Jailhouse Stories
Who We Are and What We DoThe Texas Jail Project seeks to improve the conditions for approximately 65,000 people—mothers, fathers, brothers, sons, sisters, and daughters—who are incarcerated in Texas county jails. Our issue areas include:
When Brenda Martin recalls how her only child’s life came to an end at the age of 37, she knows there was not one isolated event that caused his early demise. But she’s convinced that although he didn’t die in custody, the 73 days he spent in Caldwell County jail directly contributed to his death.
If you are a diabetic and are arrested for any reason, once you’re in a jail, you are guaranteed medical care, correct? No, not so much. The American Diabetes Association must have been to Texas lately because this piece opens by saying “People with diabetes frequently experience problems with medical care while in detention. The consequences of this improper care can be stark: periods of unconsciousness leading to injuries, infections and amputations, vision loss and blindness, hospitalization, brain damage, and even death. Even when no long term physical harm occurs, the fear and uncertainty caused by improper medical care can cause enduring emotional and psychological damage to people with diabetes in detention, and their concerned family and friends.” Texas Jail Project has had several reports of people in county jails who fail to receive the correct dosage of insulin and improper diets are very common.
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.
Can you fill out this short survey on Texas county jails? Click on the title “County Jail Survey.” Your information won’t be shared without your permission.
Maria Ana shares about her son’s experience of being held pretrial in a Texas county jail for 3 years.
April, 2015, Gloria White emailed: “I have to say, Harris County is trying to improve this jail. Went to visit my son this week at 1200 Baker Street and was thrilled to see they had started installing phones to visit without screaming!! “They have added an Inmate Care form to their website…which I have used successfully, for a
Do you know that everyday Texans are losing jobs and being disconnected from their families while waiting for their cases to be processed? They are the “innocent until proven guilty” and their numbers are astounding: 60% of the people in your average Texas county jail haven’t yet been convicted of anything, but are kept behind
California has an active and effective organization called Legal Services for Prisoners with Children( LSPC) doing work similar to the work of Texas Jail Project and Mama Sana and Moms of Color Rising. They recently formed a committee of advocates to launch a new strategy for improving health care for pregnant and post postpartum women in California jails and prisons. Their goals are excellent and practical but one points to the change that is desperately needed—a change in perception! Their goal describes it as “Shifting the paradigm around who people think women prisoners are, and figuring out how to get legislative campaigns and other information to a larger public.”
People in Montgomery county have reported to us for years that their jail doesn’t provide enough medical personnel or services to those incarcerated there—even when the person needs immediate care! While that’s long been the case, it wasn’t until recently that they got called on it. The official memo states “On February 9, 2015, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Jail facility was found to be out
“The best time to deal with a failure to appear case is before you are caught. There may be excellent defenses and negotiations possible to make this go away, and get you a new court date. However, if you are caught and arrested, your opportunities to argue for a reasonable outcome are much more limited.”