Hank’s family goes to court for justice

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Hank’s family goes to court for justice

Hank died a terrible, unnecessary death in the Bowie County Jail, which is run by a private prison company with a bad reputation: Community Education Centers. I always suspected the family would have a good case if they decided to sue. Last week, I receieved a noted from Dr. Parks, Hank’s good friend, and then I saw the story in the Washington Times about the federal lawsuit.
His family members and a close friend contacted Texas Jail Project soon after his death in 2012 and gave us all the information as they agonized over his painful death. We encouraged them to write the following bio of his life (On the next page) Their bio is full of rich details and stories of a life well lived, of a man valued by his community, especially the little boys he took fishing. We hope the jail staff reads it and thinks of him every time somebody in their facility is in pain and calling out for help.

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

    Mentally ill Texans have to rely on ER and jails Mentally ill Texans have to rely on ER and jails

    Maurice Dutton understands the feeling of complete helplessness in the face of mental illness. His son Michael was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 14. Three years later, in 1980, he was involuntarily admitted to Austin State Hospital after local facilities proved inadequate to help him. For the rest of his son’s life, Maurice watched Michael’s painful journey through Texas’ mental health and prison systems.

    Instead of Travis County Jail: A Sobering Center Instead of Travis County Jail: A Sobering Center

    People + too much alcohol = public intoxication charges. The right formula? Not really.
    Consider the results of those arrests: a. Pretrial detention in a jail, where anything can and does happen to a person sobering up.
    b. a criminal record for people who are often otherwise law-abiding.
    c. officers waste hours booking drunks instead of pursuing serious criminals.
    Of all the arrests in a year, about 10% of them are for this Class C misdemeanor, crowding the jail cells. Houston and San Antonio already have sobering centers. This healthier alternative to the Travis County Jail is explored in an editorial from the Austin American-Statesman, March 12, 2014.

    Another death in Gregg County jail Another death in Gregg County jail

    Betty Madewell speaks fondly of her son, Bobby. 51-year-old Bobby Madewell, Jr died last March in the Gregg county jail. His family filed a lawsuit against the jail just a few weeks ago. The days are a little longer now for Betty Madewell of Longview, who says she is still mourning the loss of her son, Bobby.”It’s very hard, we miss him dearly. We miss him every day,” she says.

    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

    Filmmaker wants to hear about Harris County Jail Filmmaker wants to hear about Harris County Jail

    If you currently have a family member who has been diagnosed with a mental illness and is incarcerated in the Harris County Jail and would like to share your story please contact me on 212 397 5068. We are interested in the issues mentally individuals face when they are in jail, how their illness began, whether the individual had problems getting the mental healthcare they needed before they went to jail, and the difficulties families face in dealing with this.
    Andy Blackman,
    BBC Television,
    (212) 397 5068

    Pretrial Detention in Jails

    Harris County: tougher punishment for poor/people of color

    By Lise Olsen, Houston Chronicle, September 15, 2013 Johnnnie Mason, then 55, declared his innocence in March 2012 after his girlfriend claimed he hit her with a board. Mason, an African American who was homeless, was held without bond for eight months before being acquitted of felony assault charges. A new study shows that African Americans

    Women and Jails

    Texas Criticized in UN Report on Shackling of Incarcerated Pregnant Women Texas Criticized in UN Report on Shackling of Incarcerated Pregnant Women

    The international community is now reading about Texas in this new report on shackling in the U.S. Unfortunately. Some of the information is derived from research and observations by Texas Jail Project.

    Conditions in County Jails

    Texas County Jail Nurse Speaks Out! Texas County Jail Nurse Speaks Out!

    A medical officer at a Texas county jail wrote us about her job & what inmates need to know. This is exactly the kind of thing we need to hear this from those working inside jails, especially since more people have died in just the past few weeks–inmates in Gregg and Bexar and Ector counties.
    “To My Inmates,
    Yes, I call you “my” Inmates. Sometimes I even call you my kids. There are 600 of you and one of me, the Medical Sgt. I am a nurse. I care what happens to you. I care what your family is going through while you are here. When I interviewed for my job I was asked what would be the most difficult thing I felt I might have to go through. My answer…… losing one of you. A death in custody. You are my responsibility.”

    Legal Issues & Jails

    Grievance Forms for County Jails Grievance Forms for County Jails

    If your loved one says the county jail won’t give her or him a grievance form, get one from Texas Law Help, and mail it to her or him! A guide and grievance forms for various Texas jails are on this Texas Law Help website. Without a grievance, inmates will find it almost impossible to sue a jail or county, no matter what happens to them in there.

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