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 ‘ Lack of medical care ’
A new coalition is in town: Texas Jail Project, Mama Sana/Vibrant Women along with ACLU of Texas and Amnesty International. You are welcome to join in—we need all the help we can get—because it will take a concerted effort to move the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and county sheriffs to make changes in the way they care for pregnant inmates in county jails.
In this San Antonio Current article, Alexa Garcia-Ditta provides outstanding writing on this complex subject. She leads with the story of 29-year-old Shela Williams, who was incarcerated in the Travis County Jail during a high-risk pregnancy. Her baby Israel died, and Shela wasn’t allowed to attend his funeral. She shares her painful story, to raise awareness of the need for better health care for pregnant women in local jails.
Texas Jail Project supports all efforts to reduce the number of privatized county jails and prisons in Texas. We work with Grassroots Leadership to supply information and to educate lawmakers and county officials about the detrimental effects of this commercialization of our justice system, but it’s an uphill battle in Texas, which leads the nation in the number of detention facilities that are privatized. Now, GEO and CCA and the other money-hungry private companies are pulling in millions off the backs of immigrants. This excellent article from the American Friends Service Committee tells what it’s like for the people held in those places and follows the money as well: “”Immigrant detention is a growth opportunity for for-profit prison companies, expanding their business model from state and federal prisons.”
The American Friends report to the UN describes the inhumanity of the U.S. justice system and the mistreatment of humans in our prisons and jails. Family members across Texas are reporting on similar conditions in many in our Texas county jails. Will Texas legislators step up and demand changes?
“At the close of 2012, the U.S. led the world in incarceration rates1 with over 2.2 million adults held in prisons and jails. Why is this the case? Deeply flawed policies focusing on punishment − not healing or rehabilitation − have created a pipeline through which economically disadvantaged populations are funneled into prisons and jails. Incarcerated individuals are frequently exposed to deplorable, cruel, and dangerous conditions of confinement that no human being should experience.”
In late October, a “North Texas aunt” emailed Texas Jail Project about our ongoing efforts to help her nephew who was neglected in a county jail. She wrote: “I appreciate all of your efforts more than words can express. My nephew was moved to a new facility which has more medical available and is receiving all of his medication now. They also have given him something to help support his injury. I think that your efforts made them see that there were people watching and people who cared about this particular inmate. It is the only explanation as to why he started getting medical and MHMR treatment when there are stories of so many who do not. ”
The following article describes the struggle of another Texan to get help for a son, during his painful journey through Texas’ mental health and prison systems.
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
The numbers of people dying in county jails are adding up in 2014—and most recently, one of them was especially tragic. Only 18, Victoria Gray died in September in the Brazoria County Jail after that jail failed in so many ways, it will take a full investigation to sort that out and hold officers and officials accountable. Some, like Victoria, die of suicide while others die of what is called “natural causes,” and their deaths are not always investigated. (More have died in police custody or other facilities; we are only listing those in county jails.) Earlier this year, the list included Courtney Ruth Elmore, was 33 years old. She died February 11, 2014, around 7:00 a.m.. in the Brown County Jail. Was the staff trained to watch for respiratory failure? David Grimaldo, 18, a Perryton High School student died just hours after being booked into the Ochiltree County Jail. The Ochiltree County Sheriff Joe Hataway read from an autopsy report saying that the teen died of a medical condtion complicated by intoxication. Could it have been prevented?
Linell Redden lost her beloved husband Robert to the Denton county jail, a place often accused of having poor medical care and indifferent staff. She gives her insightful comments on the 8th anniversary of his death.
“The inmates need to be given the benefit of the doubt when they have a potential life threatening complaint and they should be treated the sameway they’d be treated in any other any doctor’s office. Protocols need to constantly be reviewed and adhered to, and sometimes common sense needs to come into play. Don’t listen to those staff who insinuate inmates are going to the infirmary to do some easy time or because they want to look at a pretty nurse….a person in jail can be sick and if untreated, they can and do die.”
Texas is behind everybody in providing help to mentally ill people, and a recent study finds that we actually incarcerate more people with mental disorders than we treat.
In this story, we see an example of this broken system in the life and death of Michael Dutton.
“When he confessed to a parole violation in order to get himself back into the hospital — the only place he knew to get the help he needed — he was sent to prison instead, to serve his nine-year sentence. Eventually he quit taking his medications, began lashing out at guards and fellow inmates, and ended up spending long periods in solitary confinement.”
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.