Texas Jail Project About Newsletters Stories Reports In The News Jail Commission Peer Voices Campaigns & Actions Contact Donate

Our Issue Areas

Women and Pregnant Women in County Jails – The 241 Texas county jails hold approximately 450 pregnant inmates on any given day. This initiative works to ensure that they are not shackled during childbirth, and monitors conditions, including their medical and dietary needs, in accordance with HB 3653 and 3654. Prior to our input on these bills, pregnant people were not even counted and their presence was mostly ignored. In 2015, we spoke to lawmakers about the need for more data and for implementation; HB 1140 was passed and signed into law, requiring a detailed survey of each jail’s policies and practices regarding pregnant women.

In 2017, we supported more legislation, and in 2019, two more bills were filed; finally, HB 1651 passed and became law. It requires each jail’s medical plan to include care by an OB/GYN for pregnant prisoners. It also requires that the staff and officers county jails be able to identify when a pregnant prisoner is in labor and provide appropriate care, including prompt transport to a hospital.

Special Populations – This program collects stories and advocates for best jail practices with regard to persons experiencing mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, veteran status, as well as people with LGBTQ identities and those who are undocumented immigrants. Our work within the Justice and Mental Health Coalition supports various pieces of legislation that will benefit families advocating for loved ones experiencing mental illness while in a county jail.

Effects of Pretrial Detention – More than 60% of the people held in the average jail in Texas are pretrial detainees. TJP seeks to publicize the negative effects of that incarceration, as well as the racial disproportionality of pretrial detention which more often affects people of color. Those held in pretrial detention for extended periods also includes those people with mental disorders and veterans experiencing PTSD and other mental illnesses. Our collection of personal narratives at Jailhouse Stories: Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas educates officials, community leaders and media about the negative effects of incarcerating people who could be out on bail or in diversion programs.

Data Collection and Transparency – Since its incorporation as a nonprofit, TJP has urged the Commission (TCJS) for better data. Our legislative work in 2009 led to the passing of HB 3654 relating to counting pregnant inmates in county jails. We continue to monitor and track the implementation of that process. In the 2019 session, we are working on bills that will require county jails to collect and report race, gender and age to TCJS. TJP also collects inspection reports of non-compliant jails compiled by TCJS. We routinely file open records requests from the state for research of custodial deaths, medical records, and health services plans.