All entries by this author

Making Jails Safer: TJP at the 86th Session!

Feb 18th, 2019 | By
Making Jails Safer: TJP at the 86th Session!

With our small staff at Texas Jail Project, it’s not easy, but we are working hard to support several house bills for the current 86th legislative session—on subjects ranging from care of pregnant women to training of correctional officers to the oversight of the Texas Jail Commission! Rep. Celia Israel filed HB 1601, Rep. James White filed HB 1553, and Rep. Mary González filed HB 1651.
Now ANNIE’S LIST has tweeted a big national shout out to Rep. González: @RepMaryGonzalez’s HB 1651 would require the Commission on Jail Standards to adopt reasonable rules and procedures re: the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners. #txlege
Read on for more bills that will affect the treatment of the 1,000,000 people booked into county jails each year in Texas. (Photo is of Rep. Mary González)



Jail Commission Next Meets May 2

Jan 25th, 2019 | By
Jail Commission Next Meets May 2

Each meeting starts at 9 am sharp, and ANYONE 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. Most meetings are held at the John H. Reagan Building, 105 W. 15th Street, 1st Floor, Room 120. HOWEVER, DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, THEY MAY HAVE TO CHANGE THE LOCATIONAT THE LAST MINUTE TO ANOTHER BUILDING SO CHECK THEIR WEBSITE. Continue to see link to their website.



Pregnant Women in Texas County Jails

Dec 1st, 2018 | By
Pregnant Women in Texas County Jails

Each month Texas county jails tally the number of pregnant inmates and report that to the Jail Commission. Some are only held there a few days, but others may be incarcerated for weeks and months and a number will deliver their babies in local hospitals while in custody.



The Jail Commission’s Report Cards

Nov 9th, 2018 | By
The Jail Commission’s Report Cards

by Kevin Garrett, November 6, 2018
Our county jails are supposed to be holding people in safe and healthy conditions, but that’s not the case. In my experience, I often felt as if guards were more concerned with how clean the pod was rather than if an inmate was seriously ill and needed help.
The main oversight of jails actually has little to do with health care, however. And there are only five inspectors from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards tasked with inspecting the 241 county jails spread over 268, 000 square miles. Violations cover a wide range, from a lack of hot water to no documentation of suicide prevention training for staff. 



We are answering more critical calls and we need your help ….please!

Sep 28th, 2018 | By
We are answering more critical calls and we need your help ….please!

Our months of advocacy resulted in a Texas family’s loved one being moved to a psychiatric hospital after 7 months in an isolation cell. Her sister (left) met with TJP’s director in person for the first time this month. Wendolyn Lacy says,
“I am speechless—WE ARE SO GRATEFUL. We understand we can say thanks all day, but donations are what you guys need to keep y’all going and help folks like my sister.”

Please donate today! New: Donate in the name of a loved one or a person who values justice for all. We will place his/her name in the new “Texas Jail Project Honor Roll” on our front page.



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

Sep 18th, 2018 | By

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. 



Jail Reads Sends Books

Sep 18th, 2018 | By
Jail Reads Sends Books

County jails are not required to have a library like state prisons are. And a lot of small to medium sized jails don’t have any books and only allow ones ordered from publishers or Amazon. So If your family can’t afford to buy them for you, you may go months with nothing to read or learn. Or you may only find tattered romance novels like our founder Diane Wilson found in the Victoria County Jail. So Jail Reads helps bring words and hope into the jails!



Chaplain Describes Jails’ Treatment of Families

Aug 8th, 2018 | By
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.”



Could this baby’s death have been prevented?

Jul 20th, 2018 | By
Could this baby’s death have been prevented?

In this new story from WFAA, top notch reporting reveals what happened to Shaye Bear as well as poor medical care for many pregnant inmates in Texas county jails. Tanya Eiserer and her team also expose punitive attitudes and blatant lies by Ellis County. The work of Texas Jail Project and observations from TJP’s director Diana Claitor provide context. Claitor commented that one serious problem is that many officers’  first reaction to an inmate’s complaints is that anything she says is a lie. But if the case of a pregnant inmate, another life is at stake if the jailer’s wrong, she said.
Ironically, Claitor co-authored a Dallas Morning News editorial just 4 years ago, about the tragic death of another baby, in the Wichita Falls County Jail. Read on for that.



Texas Jail Project is proud to announce that the Hogg Foundation is funding a two-year Peer Policy Fellowship at TJP!

May 11th, 2018 | By

Great news for our advocacy for people experiencing mental illness/substance abuse issues and involved in the criminal justice system! The Hogg Foundation is funding a position for “a Peer Policy Fellow who brings direct experience into the conversations about mental health, addiction, and criminal justice reform.” The mentor will be the renowned Dr. Lynda Frost, formerly associate director of the Hogg Foundation. With this position, our work and the lived experience of a peer policy fellow will advance important issues and increase awareness of stakeholders and the public.
Over the past 8 years, more than 75% of the emails and calls to our group have been complaints and cries for help regarding people experiencing mental illness while incarcerated in county jails. That category often includes pregnant women, veterans and people who are also ill with physical illnesses or disabilities. While some jail staff are trained in how to treat people living with mental illness, many officers are not and the rapid turnover in jail staff doesn’t help.