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2020: Resilience, Action & Possibilities!

In 2020 we rose to the challenge – taking on the colliding pandemics of COVID-19 and inhumane jailing, while undergoing our own internal transformation. We’re proud to have taken on big fights in our pursuit of depopulating county jails and demonstrating community based alternatives to incarceration. Texas county jails were the frontlines for this year’s crisis, foregrounding systemic inequities and corruption, from rural county jails with unreported outbreaks to metropolitan superspreader facilities. And we didn’t back down.

Featured Articles

Why is it important to differentiate between county jails & state prisons?

You’re watching the news, and the reporter states, “William Larcenous will be spending the rest of his life in jail.” Or describes Mary Doe languishing in prison waiting for trial. But neither is true—because jails and prisons are very different kinds of facilities and the people in them are there for different reasons! Using the word “jail” correctly is especially important for public awareness of the large percentage of people being held pretrial—not yet convicted—in their local jails.

Leadership transitions at TJP!

Co-founder Krish Gundu transitioned into the role of executive director this past summer, and Dalila Reynoso has joined us as community advocate and organizer! Krish Gundu has been a part of Texas Jail Project since co-founding it with three other women in 2006, and Dalila Reynoso, who has extensive experience advocating for immigrant rights in Smith County, Texas, is now working in all areas of justice advocacy in that part of Texas. Longtime director Diana Claitor is continuing to work at TJP as Communications Director.

Detainees wearing face masks How is Texas Jail Project helping during the COVID-19 crisis?

WE LISTEN AND CONNECT …
Families with resources and contacts: People in Dallas, Houston, Tyler, Victoria, San Antonio, Texarkana, and other towns are desperate for information about how county jails are protecting their loved ones from the virus. Remember, no visitors are allowed now since COVID-19! Also, no chaplains or educators or volunteers.

Families Speak Out

Robert is going to a hospital after months in jail!

Languishing in the Smith County jail since April 2019, isolated in a single cell and untreated, Robert Paquin was beaten up—not uncommon for people experiencing mental illness in a local jail. His aunt asked Dalila for help, reporting that Robert had stopped eating, and worst of all, was being pressured to plead to a felony that would put him in prison for three years. Because of the work of TJP advocate Dalila Reynoso and her fundraising to hire a “low bono” attorney Brett Harrison, and because of coordinated efforts of TJP’s director Krish Gundu and the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Robert was further evaluated by a forensic psychiatrist who declared him to be insane during the incident—and charges were dismissed. Robert will be moved to a long-term medical facility. His aunt told Dalila, “Y’all saved his life! You really did!””

In The News

TJP Points to the COVID-Jail-Community Connection

This CNN story highlights the tragic death of Raul Rodriguez due to COVID-19. TX Jail Project has publicized his family’s outcry about not being notified of his illness. Also, TJP executive director Krish Gundu speaks about the spread of COVID from jails to communities and how “staff …coming in and out facilities and then mingling with their home communities, have been “super vectors” for the virus,” said Gundu.

Habeas Corpus

If your loved one was found incompetent to stand trial …

There is a legal filing to make sure a person found incompetent is hospitalized or removed from the jail. If your loved one has been found incompetent to stand trial due to mental disability but has continued to be held in jail without treatment, the person’s lawyer can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus with the court that requires the county to provide him/her with appropriate medical care—in other words, send them to a hospital. Once the court grants the Writ, the Sheriff must comply. Go to next page for the Writ, which you can download.

Jailhouse Stories

Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas

Jailhousestories.org lets people across Texas describe, in their own words, the often-devastating impact of incarceration in local jails. The contributors come from some 34 Texas counties, revealing issues in both urban and rural facilities, with an emphasis on small to medium-sized jails. This collection of stories from families and individuals across Texas was possible by a generous grant from Public Welfare Foundation.