Harris County Jail considered ‘unsafe and unhealthy’ for inmates, public

Lead Article

Harris County Jail considered ‘unsafe and unhealthy’ for inmates, public

Ahmed Elsweisy felt nauseated, 24 hours into every diabetic’s worst nightmare. He’d been arrested on a DWI charge and booked into the Harris County Jail early one morning in September without insulin – and nobody seemed to care. Ahmed Elsweisy had successfully managed his diabetes since being diagnosed as a child at age 11. But he almost did not survive his first and only arrest. Here he poses for a portrait during an interview in his attorney’s office Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Houston. (Continue/click through to see three excellent videos of Elsweisy and others in this outstanding story from the Houston Chronicle)

Who We Are and What We Do

The 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:
  • Women and Pregnant Women in County Jails: This ongoing initiative works to monitor conditions for pregnant inmates, including their medical and dietary needs, in accordance with HB 3654, and to ensure that they are not shackled during childbirth or postpartum, in accordance with HB 3653.
  • Deadly Jails of Texas: This research and reporting project monitors deaths in custody at county jails in Texas, where more people die each month than die from execution in a year, e.g. 255 deaths in the past 4 years. About 1/3 are due to suicide and many result from medical neglect and untreated withdrawal. Special Populations: This program examines best practices with regard to other populations likely to be housed in county jails, including persons with mental illness, substance abusers, homeless people, veterans, and undocumented immigrants.
  • Stop Privatizing County Jails (SPCJ) Through this initiative, TJP works with other groups and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to publicize the negative impact of privatization and directly help individuals with family members suffering in facilities run by private companies.
  • Featured Articles

    Next Jail Commission Meeting: Feb 4th Next Jail Commission Meeting: Feb 4th

    Every meeting starts at 9 am, and anyone can attend! You can speak during public input, which is at the very beginning, but the commissioners and staffers will simply listen and will not respond to you at that time. They will allow public speakers about 9 am; limit your remarks to 3 minutes. (You can also give them a letter.) Meetings occur in Austin every 3 months,on the first Thursday of that month. Continue for a link that with more info about meetings of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

    Nathan King’s Mother Remembers Her Loving Son Nathan King’s Mother Remembers Her Loving Son

    Nathan D. King was part of the Livingston, Texas community when he died at the age of 37 in 2015. He was also part of a close family, and his mother, Mrs. Timmie King, has plenty of memories, such as how much he loved her cooking, animals, football, and , of course, his three children.

    Dozens of inmates die in Texas jails each year Dozens of inmates die in Texas jails each year

    Texas Jail Project director Diana Claitor discussing inmate deaths in Texas jails on KXAN news.

    A son lost to a Texas city jail A son lost to a Texas city jail

    Look into the eyes of Ron Converse, to understand the cost of no regulations of city jails. His son, a 26-year-old welder from Wisconsin named Chad Silvis, killed himself in the Kemah City Jail after being arrested for public intoxication. He was pretrial, thus still innocent.
    City jailers in Texas don’t have to meet the minimum standards that county jails do. State officials aren’t even sure how many city jails are operating across Texas, but estimate there are at least 350. Diana Claitor, director of the Texas Jail Project, describes this death as an unnecessary tragedy for families. She said, “People have blinders on and don’t seem to be willing to work on this issue of suicides in jails.”
    Read St. John Barned-Smith’s story to find out how such tragedies can be prevented.

    Pregnant in a Texas County Jail? Pregnant in a Texas County Jail?

    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.


    County Jail Survey County Jail Survey

    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.

    Pretrial Detention

    Video: Carlota Torres painful story about her son in Bexar County Jail Video: Carlota Torres painful story about her son in Bexar County Jail

    Carlota shares how Bexar county neglected her son who has a history of epilepsy and mental health issues, while he was held for 9 months before having a trial. In telling their story, Mr. and Mrs. Torres hope to raise public awareness of how jailing people with mental disorders for months while they await trial can lead to further trauma and injuries.

    Families Speak Out

    Family Input Helps Daughter Get Care Family Input Helps Daughter Get Care

    From the mother of a mentally ill daughter at Travis County Correctional Complex: “I received a call from KT today, a nurse at TCCC. My daughter signed a release. Many misunderstandings cleared up & all is well…..well, I hope it will be fine but I am reassured and the nurse was able to obtain family history and some of my child’s medical history. that helped so much because my daughter was unable to explain clearly. Very productive call. Ms. KT gave me her direct number but I don’t anticipate needing to call her. Without the help of Texas Jail Project, I would not have fingernails left!”

    Women and Jails

    The Austin Chronicle Best of Austin 2015 – Best Justice for Mamas Behind Bars: Texas Jail Project, ACLU of Texas, and MamaSana

    For the first time ever, Texas county jails will be required to report on how they care for pregnant inmates – to ‘fess up about food, bedding, and medical care. That’s thanks to hard work by the Texas Jail Project, the ACLU of Texas, and Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman. The three groups joined forces to protect pregnant mothers in county jails this legislative session by helping get HB 1140 passed. The law requires accountability, transparency, and solid data to improve the lives of mamas behind bars.

    Conditions in County Jails

    Tips: When a Mentally Ill Loved One is Arrested Tips: When a Mentally Ill Loved One is Arrested

    Having a loved one arrested who has mental health issues is a scary and overwhelming situation. Family members are often forced to become advocates, to ensure their loved ones get the proper mental health screening, medications, and treatment. They can make an important difference in how the person in jail is treated.

    Here is list of first steps to take to advocate for your loved one’s safety and health.