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Conditions in County Jails

How to help a person with mental illness who has been arrested

Oct 9th, 2015

Having a loved one arrested who has mental health issues is a scary and overwhelming situation. Family members are often forced to become advocates, to ensure their loved ones get the proper mental health screening, medications, and treatment. They can make an important difference in how the person in jail is treated.

Here is list of first steps to take to advocate for your loved one’s safety and health.

The risk for diabetics in county jails

Apr 29th, 2015

If you are a diabetic and are arrested for any reason, once you’re in a jail, you are guaranteed medical care, correct? No, not so much. The American Diabetes Association must have been to Texas lately because this piece opens by saying “People with diabetes frequently experience problems with medical care while in detention. The consequences of this improper care can be stark: periods of unconsciousness leading to injuries, infections and amputations, vision loss and blindness, hospitalization, brain damage, and even death. Even when no long term physical harm occurs, the fear and uncertainty caused by improper medical care can cause enduring emotional and psychological damage to people with diabetes in detention, and their concerned family and friends.” Texas Jail Project has had several reports of people in county jails who fail to receive the correct dosage of insulin and improper diets are very common.

MOCO letter reveals flawed medical plan

Nov 24th, 2014

People in Montgomery county have reported to us for years that their jail doesn’t provide enough medical personnel or services to those incarcerated there—even when the person needs immediate care! While that’s long been the case, it wasn’t until recently that they got called on it. The official memo states “On February 9, 2015, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Jail facility was found to be out

National report matches our reports from Texas families

Oct 20th, 2014

The American Friends report to the UN describes the inhumanity of the U.S. justice system and the mistreatment of humans in our prisons and jails. Family members across Texas are reporting on similar conditions in many in our Texas county jails. Will Texas legislators step up and demand changes?
“At the close of 2012, the U.S. led the world in incarceration rates1 with over 2.2 million adults held in prisons and jails. Why is this the case? Deeply flawed policies focusing on punishment − not healing or rehabilitation − have created a pipeline through which economically disadvantaged populations are funneled into prisons and jails. Incarcerated individuals are frequently exposed to deplorable, cruel, and dangerous conditions of confinement that no human being should experience.”

“Lucky dogs” freeze in Eastland County

Jul 27th, 2014

Diane Wilson, co-founder of Texas Jail Project, has described the misery of being numb with cold and wrapping her arms with toilet paper…but people think anybody with air conditioning is a “lucky dog.” Now, listen to the current “conditioning” in the Eastland County Jail: “They have the AC set as low as it will go, they say they will have it ‘fixed’ but do nothing. the inmates are freezing, teeth chattering, their bunks are like ice and the inmates tried to cover the vent and the officers removed the covering …” And she reports that if family members complain, the officers take it out on the inmates.

Neglect of people in jail can kill

May 14th, 2014

The numbers of people dying in county jails are adding up in 2014. On October 6th, 37-year-old Iretha Lilly died hours after being tased by a McLennan County deputy; because of many reports to us of jailers failing to respond to a person in a medical crisis, we are asking how long was Ms. Lilly in heart failure before she was taken to the ER? And the Brazoria County Jail failed to protect 18-year-old Victoria Gray despite knowing of her prior hospitalization and suicide attempt. Both of these women were pretrial—not yet convicted.

Texas County Jail Nurse Speaks Out!

Jul 4th, 2013

A medical officer at a Texas county jail wrote us about her job & what inmates need to know. This is exactly the kind of thing we need to hear this from those working inside jails, especially since more people have died in just the past few weeks–inmates in Gregg and Bexar and Ector counties.
“To My Inmates,
Yes, I call you “my” Inmates. Sometimes I even call you my kids. There are 600 of you and one of me, the Medical Sgt. I am a nurse. I care what happens to you. I care what your family is going through while you are here. When I interviewed for my job I was asked what would be the most difficult thing I felt I might have to go through. My answer…… losing one of you. A death in custody. You are my responsibility.”

Use of Solitary in Our County Jails

Jun 24th, 2013

During the last session, we informed lawmakers about the need for study of how county jails use solitary confinement or seclusion cells for housing mentally ill inmates. But the Texas Sheriffs Association and others forced the removal of county jails from SB 1003, and the questions remain. Reporters and lawyers and families ask us for information and the jails stonewall everyone, as more and more cases are revealed, where mentally ill people are being locked in solitary cells for weeks and months–growing sicker and often committing suicide. Here is the one page information handout we have on use of seclusion; let us know if you’d like to help us work on this issue.

In NYC and Texas, Advocates Protest Use of Solitary

Mar 6th, 2013

“Unlock The Box: The Fight Against Solitary Confinement in New York” reveals how the fight against the use of solitary confinement is spreading as grim accounts and numbers reveal the overuse of isolation. Bonnie Kerness, director of the Prison Watch Project from the American Friends Service Committee, has spoken out about this most punitive and damaging form of incarceration for years. Here in Texas, a bill has been filed to curtail the use of prolonged isolation in state prisons, juvenile facilities, and county jails.

Charging Jail Inmates for Medical Care

Oct 28th, 2012

So people in jail without resources to get OUT of jail are now going to be charged for medical care while they are IN the jail! Yes, more and more jails are charging fees for any and all medical care. Dallas Couny has formulated its plan for taxing poor people and their families:
Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez recently announced that she will soon . . . . implement the plan to charge inmates a medical co-payment by tapping money in their commissary accounts, which they use to buy such items as toiletries and snacks. Inmates and their families put money in the accounts.