An El Paso mother wants Texans to realize that that there is help for people with a mentally ill loved one in danger at a county jail. “I would like to tell everyone about our son’s awful experience regarding his unfair extensive jail time while waiting to be moved to Vernon Hospital. I am thankful for Diana
Posts Tagged ‘ conditions in county jails ’
Judging pregnant women is easy to do, especially when they’re in jail. To hear people talk, you would think that these women set out to a. get pregnant and b. get themselves thrown in jail. Worse still, some officers and officials go on to dismiss any incarcerated woman as immoral, irresponsible, and unconcerned about her baby.
Consequently, when she complains about a lack of food, water, and vitamins, or a lack of medical care, everything she says can be dismissed as a lie. But you already knew that all inmates lie, right?
In a new, in-depth investigatory series from RH Reality Check, we hear an LVN answer a staffer reporting a pregnant woman in extreme distress by saying, “You can go eyeball her and call me back if you want. She’s probably full of shit.” After an agonizing amount of neglect and trauma, that woman’s twin babies died.
Finally! Houston Chronicle reporter James Pinkerton brings attention to an often overlooked subject that is so important to prisoners and their families: visitation at the Baker Street jail. Texas Jail Project has long wanted to shine a light on what one older father called 19th century conditions when he came to visit his son week after week, and couldn’t hear anything he said.
This excerpt is from our interview (see Inmate Stories) of an observant woman held 13 months there: “At Harris County Jail, the visitation rooms do not provide telephones; they have plexiglass windows with holes in them through which inmates and visitors have to shout at one another to be heard. It is extremely stressful to receive a visitor because it is so difficult to hear anything over all the shouting that is going on [around you]. I finally worked out a system with my uncles, who came to see me regularly, to bring paper and pen and we communicated by writing messages to one another, instead of trying to yell through the plexiglass…. Thus, even visitation was an unpleasant and stressful event ….” Despite her loneliness and despair during her long pretrial detention, when she saw how hard visitation was on family members, she told them to stop coming.
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.
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.