We tend to think that there is someone holding jails accountable for how they treat people with mental disorders, but this new lawsuit by the watchdog group, Texas Disability Rights, proves that terrible things are still happening and that jails have to be sued to make any changes. Since this lawsuit was filed in June, Texas Jail Project has received more complaints about Victoria County Jail, including one from a mother of a man who has mental disabilitiies and a serious phyical illness that is not being treated. When will the Texas Commission on Jail Standards take action to transform this sick jail?
Posts Tagged ‘ sheriff ’
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.
This article from the June, 2013 issue of the Texas Observer, covers the death of a mental patient, shot and killed by a deputy. Author Diana Claitor (TJP director) provides details about a Texas Ranger investigation that some might call a coverup, while analyzing the interface of local mental health providers and law enforcement.
““Most officers in all states will spend more of their career dealing with the mentally ill than they will armed, assaultive or fleeing individuals,” says Kevin Elliott, a retired Los Angeles sheriff’s officer who’s now a Ph.D. candidate in criminal justice policy at Texas State University. “Yet most law enforcement officers, including sheriffs’ deputies, receive only a few hours [of training to deal with mentally ill prisoners], compared with more than 150 hours of firearms, self-defense and physical fitness training.”
How many county sheriff’s offices cut corners and put somebody in charge of inmates’ medical care who isn’t even close to being qualified? It takes a lawsuit, as usual, to expose the wrongdoers and hold those in charge accountable. The Wichita County jail has a record–of neglect and bad medical care. For example, look at the federal case filed after the tragic death of Jason Brown in 2004. His estate sued the previous Sheriff, Thomas Callahan, for failure to train and supervise the jail’s medical employees and for maintaining an unconstitutional policy of deliberate indifference to detainees’ serious medical needs. Are there others?
Forced to Give Birth in Taylor County Jail CellPress Release from Taylor County Juvenile Justice Center Abilene, Texas, November 1, 2010: The Honorable Sam R. Cummings, an Article III federal judge, refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Lance Hunter Voorhees, a former volunteer chaplain for the Taylor County Detention Center. Sheriff Bruce’s challenge of
Sheriff Walters of San Jacinto County Jail stated that the family did not notify the jail of an inmate’s suicidal tendencies. Oddly enough, he also says, “Everyone involved has been disciplined and we are looking to get things back to normal.” Does that mean that the jail was at least partially at fault? Also, if the
“Heaven and Hell in Cameron County Jail” by TJP director Diana Claitor, is online. This feature story in the Texas Observer* explores events in Brownsville since chaplain Gail Hanson spoke out about dismal conditions in the women’s jail, the sheriff banned her from entering the jail, the community became involved and a federal lawsuit was
We think Angela deserves a round of applause! She refused to give up even when she was ignored. Angela’s brother had a terminal condition and desperately needed his medication, but wasn’t receiving it in their jail. Angela sent them a 1500 word complaint, and sent the same complaint to the biggest paper in her area, the Victoria Advocate, and they published it. Then she found us, emailed us and Diane Wilson drove over and had a conversation with the sheriff. Then, finally, the jail staff paid attention.