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Summer 2019 Newsletter

Aug 27th, 2019 | Category: Featured Articles, TJP Updates

70 Million podcast

Texas Jail Project is the focus of two episodes of 70 Million, a national documentary podcast about criminal justice reform. New York journalist and radio producer Rowan Moore Gerety has followed the work of Texas Jail Project for years, and he saw the potential of our history and advocacy for this acclaimed series.

The first episode chronicles Gerety’s trip to Victoria where he met with Diane Wilson, co-founder and instigator of Texas Jail Project as she reunited with Shandra Williams, a young mother, incarcerated in Victoria County Jail with Wilson some 13 years ago. The second episode releasing on Sept. 2nd, will cover TJP cases and visits to legislative offices by our executive director Diana Claitor and Kevin Garrett, our Hogg Foundation peer fellow.

Click here to listen to the first episode TODAY!

 


 

TJP testifying in committee

Krish Gundu testifying in Veterans Affairs Committee, Maria Anna testifying in Veterans Affairs committee, Rep Israel and Krish testifying in County Affairs Committee.

Kevin Garrett and TJP program coordinator Krish Gundu led our work supporting six bills inspired by our cases and research.

Success! HB 1651, by Rep. Mary González, passed and was signed by the governor. HB 1651 mandates that jails:

a) provide pregnant people with medical care by an Ob-Gyn;
b) document the reasons any time a woman in labor/childbirth is shackled &;
c) transport any woman in labor to a hospital.

Texas Jail Project is part of the work groups at the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS)  implementing HB 1651 as well as HB 3440, which mandates electronic data reporting by jails.

Bills that didn’t pass nonetheless moved the needle on important reforms:

  • Rep. Celia Israel filed HB 1601 requiring the release of pregnant women being held pretrial in county jails on a personal recognizance bond instead of cash bail.
  • Rep. Israel filed HB 1889 which would have increased data transparency of county jails by mandating gender, race, and age breakdown of pretrial populations.
  • Rep.  James White filed HB 1553 that adds positions for a doctor of psychiatric medicine and for a veteran affairs expert on the Jail Commission.
  • Rep. White filed HB 2701 to establish a training program for county jailers to make sure they recognize signs of labor and medical emergencies in pregnant women.
  • Rep. Romero, Jr. filed HB 3311 to ensure veterans in county jails are tracked accurately and have access to benefits related information.

Informing Systems Change Through Our Stories

TJP was invited in July to inform the Judicial Commission on Mental Health’s (JCMH) Experience Mapping Roundtable which collected stories of lived experience from individuals and families affected by the justice and mental health systems. Our extensive input led to JCMH listing TJP as an official partner!

 


 

Kevin presenting at an African American Mental Health Conference

Congratulations to our peer policy fellow Kevin Garrett for his *appointment to the Disability Issues Committee of the State Bar of Texas!

In addition, he recently made a well-received presentation to the interns of the mental health magistrate Judge Cacciotti in Tarrant County, and thanks to him, TJP has been invited back to the Outpatient Competency Restoration External Stakeholder Rules Workgroup this month.

Kevin also presented TJP concerns about HB 3440 and HB 1651 at the August 1st quarterly meeting of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Please see our newly launched Peer Voices section where Kevin and other peers have their say on a wide range of issues from mental health in jails to reentry and sobriety. Thanks to the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health for granting this fellowship.

* Kevin Garrett has been appointed to the State Bar of Texas Disability Issues Committee as a public member. He does not hold a license to practice law in the state of Texas or any other state. In his role at the Texas Jail Project, he does not hold himself out as a lawyer nor does he offer any legal advice.

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