Pregnant for the first time at 33, Alice* was seeing a doctor and committed to a healthy pregnancy. Although she had longstanding mental health problems and substance use, she was prioritizing the health of her baby during pregnancy. But when she was arrested and held in the Nacogdoches County Jail for seven weeks pretrial, she was denied prenatal care for weeks and had repeated problems obtaining her life-sustaining medicine. Emotionally distraught, she was placed in solitary and treated as a problem prisoner. Both Alice and her mother Sally, a schoolteacher, were threatened with retaliation for making complaints.
“Sharing my story might not make it more safe for myself, but I would like to make it safe for someone else. Hopefully, the cycle will be broken one day,” says John Brown, a contributor to Jailhouse Stories who was jailed at Dallas County Jail for two and a half years while waiting for a trial.
This week, a new website, “Jailhouse Stories: Voices from Pretrial Detention in Texas,” was released by Texas Jail Project. Collected over a two-year period, these powerful stories document a pattern of mistreatment and poor conditions experienced by those incarcerated in county jails while pretrial—innocent in the eyes of the law and awaiting their day in court.
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.
Carlota and Gregorio Torres met with us in San Antonio while they awaited what they thought would be the relase of their son,
but he was held for several more months.
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.
Robert Rowan was born Aug 27, 1987, and he was a great man. He loved his family with all his heart. He loved to be out on the boat with his cousin William. He enjoyed working on cars, riding dirt bikes, riding back roads, having a cold beer and just enjoying life.
There is not a day that goes by that we don’t think about Robert.
His death was something that should not have happened.
I have been fighting for justice for my younger brother since he passed away in 2012 [in the Bexar County Jail]. Tommy was a shy, but friendly, outgoing person, filled with more love and kindness than anyone I have ever met. Oh, how his smile was infectious and his laugh was always sincere and contagious! Tommy worked as an electrician for over 8 years, as well as helping out friends and family with anything they might need. His daughter was 3 years old when he passed away—she has his smile and his personality and that keeps his memory alive.
I’m James Bernard, a pastor and a disabled veteran. I was jailed on a warrant by the Judge on a probation revocation due to a failed urinalysis. Although I had provided my probation officer a letter from my doctor stating what medication I took–Phenobarbital—and that it was necessary for seizures, the officer failed to turn
From his wife and the mother of his little girl: “Miss and love ya! Greg was a good friend, a loving father, a talented surfer, painter, and had a heart of gold. My husband battled mental health issues and as we all know Texas cut the budget for mental health a huge amount…”
The sister of James “Hank” Hankins misses her brother terribly. Here is her written version of his life story, from the time of his birth in 1958 in Hugo, Oklahoma, to the premature and sudden end of his life this year in Texarkana. The family plans to create a memorial garden and his scholarship fund in his honor. They don’t want to focus on the Bowie County authorities who seemed to have ignored his illlness and suffering. Instead they want to point out the value of Hank’s life and the great affection many people felt toward him. RIP Hank. We won’t forget you.