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TJP Details the Misery in TX Jails for National & State News

Feb 22nd, 2021 | Category: In The News, Lead Article

Krish Gundu, executive director, spoke to reporters and writers from all over the nation during the winter storm emergency this past week. The Washington Post quoted the calls Texas Jail Project recorded from people in Galveston, Smith, Polk, Victoria and Bowie counties. “Incarcerated people, including many who have not been convicted of a crime, reported to the nonprofit that jails lacked blankets and left inmates in freezing conditions.” NBC News spoke on the phone to a Texas Jail Project contact in the Victoria County Jail and quoted Gundu addressing how county jails failed to depopulate at the beginning of the pandemic.

Other media like Mother Jones and  Huffington Post, in the US and Great Britain, focused on the misery being experienced by Harris County Jail prisoners and quoted Gundu as saying: “Things were already pretty bad due to COVID, and overcrowding, and the courts being backed up. But now, everything is sort of exacerbated to the next level because no one was prepared for this storm.”

The Texas Observer did a great job including stories from people confined in county jails alongside people suffering the winter storm on the outside. Gundu put it all in perspective for writer Arya Sundaram with a story about a man in the Harris County (Houston) jail with whom she’d spoken many times. In the past, the longtime prisoner had described the distressing  lack of soap—a major issue in many county jails, despite the pandemic. Last week, he told her that he had “good news”: Because no one’s using running water, there’s finally enough soap.”

The Texas Tribune also spoke to a man in Harris County Jail and quoted Krish Gundu ‘s description of  rationed food and delays in medicine or other health care in facilities across the state. And the Houston Chronicle story on emergency distribution of vaccine to Harris County Jail officers said that Texas Jail Project executive Krish Gundu spoke of the value of inoculating inmates, given that social distancing is difficult inside detention facilities. “We hope this will not only slow down the spread of the virus inside the jail but also make the entire Harris County community safer,” Gundu said. “Ideally, we should also be depopulating the jail to allow for physical distancing inside cells.”

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