A Texas Vet and His Demons

Lead Article

A Texas Vet and His Demons

The Marshall Project has published Maurice Chammah’s new story about Marine veteran Adan Castañeda with the subtitle, “Does he belong in a prison or a hospital?” Looking at his history of mental illness and trauma, it seems obvious that the 28-year-old former scout sniper needs psychiatric care in a hospital. But when he goes on trial, he could receive a long sentence in TDCJ, despite the fact that he did not injure anyone when he shot up his parents’ house. During the more than three years he’s been held pretrial in the Comal County Jail, he has deteriorated. His mother reports that Castañeda no longer always remembers his service, and he often expresses fear and paranoia. While she believes her son can be well again, she doubts that outcome is possible in a prison setting.

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

    Stopping Prison—and Jail—Privatization Stopping Prison—and Jail—Privatization

    Texas Jail Project supports all efforts to reduce the number of privatized county jails and prisons in Texas. We work with Grassroots Leadership to supply information and to educate lawmakers and county officials about the detrimental effects of this commercialization of our justice system, but it’s an uphill battle in Texas, which leads the nation in the number of detention facilities that are privatized. Now, GEO and CCA and the other money-hungry private companies are pulling in millions off the backs of immigrants. This excellent article from the American Friends Service Committee tells what it’s like for the people held in those places and follows the money as well: “”Immigrant detention is a growth opportunity for for-profit prison companies, expanding their business model from state and federal prisons.”

    Helping families help a loved one in jail Helping families help a loved one in jail

    In late October, a “North Texas aunt” emailed Texas Jail Project about our ongoing efforts to help her nephew who was neglected in a county jail. She wrote: “I appreciate all of your efforts more than words can express. My nephew was moved to a new facility which has more medical available and is receiving all of his medication now. They also have given him something to help support his injury. I think that your efforts made them see that there were people watching and people who cared about this particular inmate. It is the only explanation as to why he started getting medical and MHMR treatment when there are stories of so many who do not. ”
    The following article describes the struggle of another Texan to get help for a son, during his painful journey through Texas’ mental health and prison systems.

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

    About 500 pregnant women are incarcerated in Texas county jails each month. 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.

    Families Speak Out

    My son: a Marine veteran in solitary My son: a Marine veteran in solitary

    “My son Adan is in solitary confinement. Why? Because the jail considers that is the “safest” way to hold someone with a medical/mental condition. I was told that is for his good and the good of others. He does not have the opportunity to eat or mingle with other inmates. He has been in solitary confinement

    Jailhouse Stories

    Jailhouse Stories: Effects of Pretrial Detention Jailhouse Stories: Effects of Pretrial Detention

    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

    Women and Jails

    Texas county jails can do better than this Texas county jails can do better than this

    A woman cries out for help, but the correctional officers ignore her and she is forced to go through labor and give birth with no help. The infant dies. Other women have described similar scenarios to Texas Jail Project co-founders Diane Wilson and Diana Claitor, and we have posted a video of a woman describing how she gave birth alone in a cell–with a happier ending, since her baby lived. Click through to see that video and read more about Nicole Guerrero’s lawsuit against the Wichita Falls Jail.

    Conditions in County Jails

    To stop inhumane treatment now

    The American Friends Service Committee recommends that this country stop what it’s doing to incarcerated citizens and begin serious reform by taking the following steps. 1. Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. 2. Removing a human being from their community, depriving them of human contact, denying them of stimuli and subjecting them

    Legal Issues & Jails

    Starting a Pretrial Intervention Program

    Once the initial charging decision is reached in a case, a prosecutor is concerned with the appropriate resolution. Experience tells us that cases can be broken down into four simple categories:
    • good people doing something stupid;
    • bad people doing something stupid;
    • good people doing something bad; and
    • bad people doing something bad.

    No categories