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Lead Article

We Support Small Bills That Make a Difference!

By Diana Claitor, Executive Director (Austin American Statesman, July 7, 2019)
Gov. Abbott signed HB 1651 last month. It’s a small bill that won’t make headlines, but it will have a large effect on the health of more than 4,000 pregnant women incarcerated in Texas county jails each year. Not to mention the health of their unborn offspring. 

Texas Jail Project, an Austin nonprofit that works to improve conditions in Texas’ 241 county jails, presented information and stories to legislators during the session. About veterans needing mental health care, jailer training, PR bonds, and collection of demographic data on inmates. However, much of our work focused on the unique vulnerability of pregnant inmates.

Featured Articles

Jail Commission Meeting: Thursday August 1st

Each meeting starts at 9 am sharp, and all can attend! But if you want to make some comments during public input, allow time to find a parking place and the room, to put down your name and be ready to talk by 9:05. Meetings may run from 1 hour to 3 hours. RIGHT NOW, THE MAY 2ND MEETING IS SCHEDULED AT Stephen F. Austin Building, 1700 Congress Ave., 1st Floor, Room 170. DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, LOCATIONS CAN CHANGE AT THE LAST MINUTE TO ANOTHER BUILDING SO CHECK THEIR WEBSITE. Continue to see link to their website.

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

You’re watching the news, and the reporter solemnly states, “William Larcenous will be spending the rest of his life in jail.” Or describes Mary Doe languishing in prison waiting for trial.

That’s not going to happen! Why?

 “Jails” and “prisons” are not the same thing. We use the terms interchangeably—and incorrectly. JAILS are run locally and most of the people held there are NOT yet convicted. The length of time people stay in jails varies from 1 day to many months. PRISONS confine people who are convicted and sentenced to a certain amount of time, usually at least a year.*

Using the word “jail” correctly is especially important for public awarenessof of the large percentage of people being held pretrial—not yet convicted—in their local jails. 

Chaplain Describes Jails’ Treatment of Families

Deacon Bob spoke truth to the Commissioners and staff at the quarterly meeting of the Jail Commission. One of his important points: “It appears that the sheriff and local staff have little concern for families of those incarcerated and the important role they play. These sheriffs seem to forget they are elected by those in their community, who may have a loved one in their jail. I hear it said many times by families that feel like they are being treated as though they have committed a crime, as well. I realize that public safety is top priority for the county jails, but families can and should be treated with respect. Each of us were created in God’s image and likeness.”

In The News

CRIMEWATCH: Mental Health and Jails

An increasing number of the people held in our county jails are people living with mental illness or disabilities. Fox News 7 interviews Texas Jail Project Executive Director Diana Claitor about her thoughts on the problem. 

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.

Pretrial Detention

Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas

“Sharing my story might not make it more safe for myself, but I would like to make it safe for someone else.” says John Brown, who was jailed at Dallas County Jail for two and a half years while awaiting trial. His and other stories reveal what happens to unconvicted people held in jails, mostly because they cannot afford the bail—a practice outlawed in many developed nations.
Last year, Texas Jail Project launched a website, “Jailhouse Stories: Voices from Pretrial Detention in Texas.” Collected over a two-year period, these powerful stories document a pattern of mistreatment and poor conditions experienced by those incarcerated in county jails while pretrial—innocent in the eyes of the law and awaiting their day in court.