El Paso: Save $$, reduce number of inmates

Lead Article

El Paso: Save $$, reduce number of inmates

“We spend a tremendous amount of money on our jails, and it’s not because we are keeping violent criminals in jail, it’s because for years we have been inefficient in the way we process these individuals,” says El Paso county commissioner Vince Perez. Nearly 3/4 of the 1600 inmates in the El Paso County jail are awaiting their first appearance in court, which can take up to 45 days! Imagine how much money that wastes while wrecking families and the livelihoods of those being held pretrial. Perez says that El Paso wants to change that. In this excellent story in the El Paso Times, it becomes obvious that the bail bondsmen are the only ones who find this new plan controversial.

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

    A Caldwell County Mother Remembers A Caldwell County Mother Remembers

    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.

    The risk for diabetics in county jails The risk for diabetics in county jails

    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.

    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.

    Video

    Maria Anna invites you to Jailhouse Stories Maria Anna invites you to Jailhouse Stories

    Maria Ana shares about her son’s experience of being held pretrial in a Texas county jail for 3 years.

    Families Speak Out

    Mom glad to see Harris Co improve Mom glad to see Harris Co improve

    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

    Pretrial Detention

    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

    Pregnancy Health Care Rights—CA & TX Pregnancy Health Care Rights—CA & TX

    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.”

    Conditions in County Jails

    MOCO letter reveals flawed medical plan

    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

    Legal Issues & Jails

    Failure to Appear Failure to Appear

    “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.”