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Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas

Aug 22nd, 2016 | Category: Uncategorized

Jailhousestories.org, a collection of stories from families and individuals across Texas, has been made possible by a generous grant from Public Welfare Foundation.

In their own words, people across Texas describe 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.

In the average county jail in Texas, more than 70% of the people are not yet convicted. Problems include poor medical care, untreated mental illness, overuse of solitary for those with mental disorders, inhumane jail conditions, lack of care during pregnancy, overly long pretrial incarceration. More than the individual is affected—damage is done to families, livelihoods and communities.

In a video on the Jailhouse Stories site, the father of 18-year-old Victoria Gray speaks to the Senate Criminal Justice committee about his daughter’s suicide.

“Heard a lot about forms here, and my daughter’s intake form actually had the checkmark that said suicidal. Four days later she was able to leave that jail dead,” said John Gray III. “There was absolutely no doubt that Brazoria County [knew] my daughter was suicidal.”

“We believe that the power of Jailhouse Stories will challenge the complacency many have about the incarceration of people who, through lack of money or failures of the justice system, are needlessly held in jail while awaiting disposition of their cases,” says Diana Claitor, executive director of the nonprofit Texas Jail Project.

More accounts are being collected and anyone who wishes to tell their story about pretrial detention in a county jail are invited to write or use the Share-a-Story form on the website.

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As an advocate for TDCJ and Comal County inmates, I am shocked and appalled by the conditions and inefficiency in the Texas Judicial System. The general public is clueless to the inhuman treatment to incarcerated people in Texas. Mental health is ignored. Complacency is astounding and unacceptable. A friend has been in Comal County jail since September 2016 awaiting trial. His attorney states his charges may be dismissed. Court date has been reset multiple times. Is it true that the court appointed attorney is paid $300.00 each time the court date is reset? Seems like there is no incentive to… Read more »

Mike Booth

I have just learned that a friend who was in custody at an unknown Texas Prison died. I don’t know when this occurred and I don’t know which prison he was assigned to. I am attempting to locate his grave. His name is James Wiley and he was born around 1945. Do you have any suggestion as to where to look or whom to contact?

Thank You for your assistance.

I’m Diana Claitor from Texas Jail Project. I want to draw attention to an issue at some jails and hope that Dr. Porsa in particular will note this concern. Some jails create a big obstacle for families trying to ensure medical care for loved ones who are incarcerated, most of whom are pretrial. That obstacle is their refusal to allow an inmate to sign a medical release form which allows his or her parent or spouse to communicate with the jail’s medical provider about medical conditions and medical history of that inmate. Recently, three families have reported to us about… Read more »