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.
Posts Tagged ‘ conditions in county jails ’
Please join us for an evening of food, drinks, fun, and the music of Gina Chavez! And we have Sarah Eckhardt, now our new Travis County Judge, speaking about conditions in county jails and the importance of TJP’s work—all at the lovely historic home of Ginny Agnew and Chuck Herring, known for progressive leadership, poetry, politics, and great parties.
Thursday, November 13th, 7 pm to 10 pm
1204 Castle Hill Street, in Clarksville, Austin
Continue to the next page for reasons why it’s important to buy a ticket and a link to the page where you can buy them!
Diane Wilson, co-founder of Texas Jail Project, has described the misery of being numb with cold and wrapping her arms with toilet paper…but people think anybody with air conditioning is a “lucky dog.” Now, listen to the current “conditioning” in the Eastland County Jail: “They have the AC set as low as it will go, they say they will have it ‘fixed’ but do nothing. the inmates are freezing, teeth chattering, their bunks are like ice and the inmates tried to cover the vent and the officers removed the covering …” And she reports that if family members complain, the officers take it out on the inmates.
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.
(212) 397 5068
To BEXAR COUNTY families:
Bexar County’s sheriff is now Susan Pamerleau and she has said, “I pledge to the citizens of Bexar County to make public safety my number one priority, with a strong foundation of stewardship of taxpayer dollars; improvements in jail operations; and family violence prevention initiatives.”
Please email us at Diana@texasjailproject.org to report all experiences with the jail in the past year. Texas Jail Project also wants to know about diversion programs in Bexar County–how well are they serving the people of San Antonio?
Former Swisher County Sheriff Benavidez has been charged with official oppression–as a public servent, he intentionally subjected another person to mistreatment. Or in this case two people. Both his victims have had to file a lawsuit, because they were punished for reporting the assaults and lost benefiits and pay, after county judge Harold Keeter actually refused to press charges. Both women were humiiated and sexually assaulted; the good news is that the second woman had her cell phone camera on during the whole nasty incident!
Is this a new day or what? Harris County’s Sheriff says, “We stay ahead of the curve…” and institutes a gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangender policy that is comprehensive and progressive. Sheriff Garcia of Houston is in charge of the third-largest county jail in the U.S., where 125,000 are booked annually. At least 2.8 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Harris County’s new policy concerning inmates prohibits discrimination or harassment of any kind based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Now, we hope this means that LGBT inmates will also get good medical care and decent treatment–a concern since we are still hearing of Houston inmates of all genders and identifications who don’t necessarily get that while incarcerated there.
Not saying that caring for 8, 900 human beings is an easy job. Just saying it’s an important job to do right.
A harmful new trend in jail mail has already shown up in Texas, and people need to speak out against it quickly, before it spreads. The Prison Policy Initiave has a fact sheet on the bad effects on families and society, and they make recommendations. I hope the Texas Commission on Jail Standards notes # 2:
2) State regulatory agencies that are responsible for jail oversight should prohibit postcard-only mail policies.
Click on through for the rest of this informative fact sheet!
A wife reports serious neglect: “My husband is in the Harris County jail right now and they lowered the dosage of a psych med for PTSD, if they give it to him at all. He also has a severe calcium deficiency and no one bothers to give him the calcium packets anymore after he was moved
If you want to contribute your ideas or report on conditions in a jail, consider coming to the QUARTERLY MEETING of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The next one is THURSDAY, AUGUST 1ST. It starts at 9 am and there is a very brief period for public input soon after it starts. Be aware this is not a discussion with commissioners: you go to the podium, state your name and get 3 minutes to tell them about your concern. They will not respond because that is the format–they listen but do not talk with you. But your complaint is on the record and everybody knows about it.