Posts Tagged ‘ Texas Commission on Jail Standards ’

19th Century Harris County Jail: shouting to be heard

Jan 10th, 2015 | By
19th Century Harris County Jail: shouting to be heard

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.



Helping the pregnant women in our jails

Nov 26th, 2014 | By
Helping the pregnant women in our jails

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.



TJP director speaks at County Affairs hearing

Mar 17th, 2014 | By
TJP director speaks at County Affairs hearing

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.



Some Texas jails are banning books!

Feb 9th, 2014 | By
Some Texas jails are banning books!

Would you help Texas Jail Project ensure the constitutional rights of prisoners to receive and read publications? A majority of people in 245 local jails are pretrial or awaiting disposition of their cases–not even convicted–and yet in some, they are not allowed to read anything except the Bible. We need volunteers to help us conduct an a survey of jail policy, by phoning the jails. More details available if you email us at diana@texasjailrproject.org … Sheriffs and jails forbidding reading material is such a problem that the Texas Commission on Jail Standards posted a letter on their website last fall, saying, “In other words, personal preferences of jail staff should not be a basis for banning a particular publication.” (See http://www.tcjs.state.tx.us/docs/TAMemoPrisonLegalNews.pdf)



New York Times Story on Henderson County Jail

Jan 18th, 2014 | By
New York Times Story on Henderson County Jail

In this new story picked up by the New York Times, a Henderson county lawyer complains about a judge who has the nerve to speak out about jail operations. “He has absolutely no business trying to be a doctor from the bench,” says Robert Davis. Of course, Judge Tarrance has all the business in the world doing that, since people have reported ongoing neglect and mistreatment –numerous cases! Texas Jail Project heard from a woman last week who was forced to stay in a cell totally naked and denied her right to call a lawyer or bailbondsman. And like most of the inmates, she was not yet convicted, but was being held pretrial.
So the county is outraged by a judge who took the unusual steps of ordering medical care and going public? We say it’s about time.



Say No to “Postcards Only” policy!

Aug 10th, 2013 | By
Say No to “Postcards Only” policy!

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!



The Demonizing of a Pregnant Inmate

Aug 7th, 2013 | By
The Demonizing of a Pregnant Inmate

Attention: Nacogdoches County
When jailers and sheriffs disapprove of an inmate, does that give them the right to deny that person fair treatment? Humane conditions? A trained jailer should surely know that the answer is “no,” and that verbal abuse and judgmental attitudes can be disastrous for inmates with serious problems. Like Cathryn Windham, 7 months pregnant and currently incarcerated in your county jail. Pre-trial, convicted of nothing but accused of many things. All of which may not even be true. This college graduate has a long-documented history of mental illness and yes, she has used drugs. And so it would appear that you have found her guilty of being an imperfect mother-to-be. I suggest the jail, sheriff, and this county are failing her by not recognizing mental disorders in a pregnant woman are a complicated business, and not necessarily deserving of hostility and punishment.



Surprise Inspection of Dawson County Jail

Jun 15th, 2013 | By

Lamesa Press Reporter An inspector with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards paid a surprise visit to Dawson County Jail on Tuesday, May 7, to conduct the annual state inspection of that facility. That inspection did not turn up any surprises for the jail staff or the Dawson County Sheriff Office. “There were no deficiencies



Abilene People Fight the System and Win!

Mar 12th, 2013 | By
Abilene People Fight the System and Win!

“I would just like to tell everyone out there that there is hope and we can change things if we stand up and never give up, no matter if it takes awhile and with alot of determination, it can be done. I have fought corruption in Taylor County and we did get JUSTICE, not only for my son but others that were in the Taylor County Jail. It was a long and hard fight, but with the determination that I had and the help of someone who is a hero to me, Lance Voorhees, we saw justice.And thanks to Texas Jail Project! They came to Abilene when I contacted Diana. She and a group if TJP members drove up here and talked to citizens of Taylor County.”



Pregnant in a Texas County Jail?

Jan 1st, 2013 | By
Pregnant in a Texas County Jail?

Each month Texas county jails tally the number of pregnant inmates and report that to the Jail Commission. Some are only held there a few days, but others may be incarcerated for weeks and months and a number will deliver their babies in local hospitals while in custody.