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Lead Article

Why Reimagining Safety Looks Different in Rural America

A Washington Post op-ed by Jasmine Heiss and Krishnaveni Gundu. April 29, 2021

In rural Texas….the rate at which poor, unconvicted people are locked up before trial has increased 22 percent in the past 10 months, rebounding sharply after an initial decline in response to the covid-19 pandemic. Across the state and nation, many sheriffs and other local elected officials are arguing that new and bigger jails are the unavoidable answer. But even before the rapid spread of covid-19 behind bars, we saw with painful clarity the frequency with which small-city and rural jails spread suffering and death.
The nonprofit Texas Jail Project has been documenting jail deaths, while working to reduce the harm caused in small counties where jails have usurped the role of emergency rooms and public health institutions.
Take the case of a 33-year-old woman who was in her second trimester while incarcerated for a probation violation in Brazoria County Jail in fall 2020. Instead of providing mandatory ob-gyn care and extra nutrition, the jail held her in solitary confinement. By the time her family received her alarming letters and reached out to advocates and state agencies for help, she had miscarried.

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  a professor describes Mary Doe languishing in prison, awaiting 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 that the majority of people being held in their local jails are pretrial—not yet convicted.

Krishnaveni Gundu Leadership transitions at TJP!

Co-founder Krish Gundu transitioned into the role of executive director in 2020, and Dalila Reynoso 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 continues 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

Smith Co Jail Prisoners’ Thank-You Note

Please notice how this handwritten thank you note on the next page says it comes from “PEOPLE who are inmates. “Hello Mrs. Dalila Reynoso: You make a difference in the lives of people who are inmates at Smith County Jail…..

In The News

Why Reimagining Safety Looks Different in Rural America

A Washington Post op-ed by Jasmine Heiss and Krishnaveni Gundu. April 29, 2021

In rural Texas….the rate at which poor, unconvicted people are locked up before trial has increased 22 percent in the past 10 months, rebounding sharply after an initial decline in response to the covid-19 pandemic. Across the state and nation, many sheriffs and other local elected officials are arguing that new and bigger jails are the unavoidable answer. But even before the rapid spread of covid-19 behind bars, we saw with painful clarity the frequency with which small-city and rural jails spread suffering and death.
The nonprofit Texas Jail Project has been documenting jail deaths, while working to reduce the harm caused in small counties where jails have usurped the role of emergency rooms and public health institutions.
Take the case of a 33-year-old woman who was in her second trimester while incarcerated for a probation violation in Brazoria County Jail in fall 2020. Instead of providing mandatory ob-gyn care and extra nutrition, the jail held her in solitary confinement. By the time her family received her alarming letters and reached out to advocates and state agencies for help, she had miscarried.

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.