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
Posts Tagged ‘ mental illness ’
Rep. Garnet Coleman, chair of the House Committee on County Affairs, exchanged comments with Texas Jail Project’s director in Livingston last week, during a hearing on county jails and government. Director Diana Claitor described the hundreds of complaints from families about the lack of psychiatric meds; she said the Texas Commission on Jail Standards doesn’t hold the jails accountable when they fail to provide necessary meds to mentally ill people. “Texas Jail Project staff recently obtained the Commission’s Notices of Non-compliance for the past three years through 2013. Of the 169 jails found not in compliance with standards, only one was cited for failure to dispense medication,” said Claitor.
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
I remember a female warden of a Texas county jail telling me how much more difficult–”moody and emotional” –women were and that she’d rather deal with male inmates any day. She might consider this study by the Center for Gender and Justice that shows a huge percentage–75%–of the women in county jails having mental disorders.
County jails were kicked out of this bill due to opposition from the Texas Sheriffs Association and the Texas Association of Counties. Representatives Marquez and Guillen still have hopes for their bills, which would study the use of ad seg in the prisons and juvenile lockups, but even that is looking doubtful.
Within this well-written article by TT editor Brandi Grissom, TJP director Diana Claitor comments on the county sheriffs’ opposition:
“It’s a pitiful state of affairs when we’re all so concerned about the ever-increasing number of mentally ill in jails and we are not willing to at least try to look at some alternative solutions…”
[My apology for using the term "the mentally ill." It should be "inmates with mental illness." D. Claitor]
Can you call a Texas Senator’s office and voice your opinion? There is a good bill, Senate Bill 1003, that calls for a “review” or examination of how prisons and county jails use solitary confinement, especially on mentally ill inmates. The Sheriffs Association of Texas rode into the Senate hearing and demanded that they take out county jails–despite the fact that increasing numbers of mentally ill inmates are held for long periods in county jails. The sheriffs seem to be against this study by an outside expert simply because it would mean answering questions. But Senator Carona, author of SB 1003, is listening to the sheriffs and may remove county jails.
Please contact Senator Carona’s office to voice your opinion: do county jails need to stay in SB 1003?
Call the Austin office at 512 463-0116 or the Dallas office at (214) 378-5751 and let them know, please!
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…”
“Given that combat veterans’ PTSD issues often manifest in aggressive behavior, it flies in the face of reason not to take violent cases,” said Isabel Apkarian, a former assistant public defender in Orange County. “I don’t know how you have a veterans court without taking those clients.”
So Instead of spending two years in jail, a Marine in an Orange County court gets sentenced to therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, to counseling for substance abuse and then, to college–special treatment that he would not get in many Texas counties which do not have veterans courts for felons. Or any veterans court at all. Texas Jail Project knows of veterans sitting in jail cells across this state, because their counties don’t ensure timely trials and treatment, let alone create a veterans court. Read here about a different way to help combat veterans charged with criminal acts.
“The defendants completely ignored the serious medical and mental health needs of Mr. Salazar during his detention at the Nueces County Jail,” the lawsuit reads.
This statement probably applies to many suicides, according to information and reports gathered by Texas Jail Project.
Journalist Leonard Sipes Jr. cites revealing numbers about women inmates in Texas jails, in his report about incarcerated women.”In Texas, women were more likely than men to be clinically depressed, to have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder and to be diagnosed with lung disease and sexually transmitted diseases. “