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

Sep 18th, 2018

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. 



Chaplain Describes Jails’ Treatment of Families

Aug 8th, 2018

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.”



Maria Anna invites you to Jailhouse Stories

May 5th, 2018

Maria Ana speaks about her son’s experience of being held pretrial in a Texas county jail for 3 years and asks others to tell their stories.



Jail Reads Sends Books

Apr 18th, 2018

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!



Kandace in the Jefferson County Jail

Sep 29th, 2016

Jarvis Cooper emailed the Texas Jail Project a message with the subject line “please help” on July 11th. He was reaching out for his partner, Kandace Washington, a 22-year-old woman more than six months pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy, incarcerated in the county jail in Beaumont. Before she was arrested on a nonviolent charge, she had been regularly seeing doctors at the University of Texas Medical Branch and doing her best to stay healthy.
“When I was booked in, I told them my UTMB doctor explained the high risk pregnancy,” said Kandace. “But I don’t know if they ever got [my medical records] at the jail.”



Harris County Lawsuit: Bail Penalizes Poor People

May 25th, 2016

“Texas’ most populous county jails misdemeanor arrestees who can’t afford bail, an unconstitutional “wealth-based” system that leaves poor people languishing behind bars, an inmate claims in a federal class action.” We already knew about a lot of the inequities in the court system in Houston from the Project Orange Jumpsuit report of 2014, but now we know more. And this lawsuit demonstrates that people are not going to take it any more. ODonnell says in her lawsuit “Harris County’s detention system is unconstitutionally rigged against poor people because magistrate judges set their bail with no consideration of whether they can afford it.”



We will punish you before you’re convicted!

Aug 21st, 2015

This 5 year old blog by Scott Henson still resonates because it examines attitudes and reality of how people in Texas are jailed while not yet convicted: Pretrial punishment: “Sentence first – verdict afterwards!” Increasingly, not just in Texas but nationwide, more and more punishment of criminal defendants, particularly those accused of misdemeanors, occurs pretrial before



Can you Volunteer? Help TJP help others

Jul 29th, 2015

When a chaplain visits a person in a county jail, they often bring hope and a listening ear along with spiritual guidance. At other times, chaplains have called us or spoken out to sheriffs when they’ve seen a person with mental illness treated badly or a pregnant woman left in a solitary cell for weeks on end. Families have asked us to post a list of chaplains at county jails, and we haven’t had the time or staff to do that. Volunteers could help us complile a list. [continue for more details]



2007-2010: “Rape Camp” in Live Oak County Jail

Apr 1st, 2015

“In this facility, numerous jailers, all employed by the Live Oak County Sheriff’s Office, repeatedly raped and humiliated female inmates over an extended period of time.” A federal lawsuit is revealing terrible details about an obscure county jail in south Texas where women held pretrial were subjugated to terrible abuse.
While two of the jailers who assualted the women are already serving time, here are new detains of horrible oppression during pretrial detention. “Guards would withhodl food, drink essentail hygiene items, threaten to harm her or take away privileges” unless the woman allowed them to all .” And that’s just the beginning. Thanks to Courthouse News for great reporting.



A son lost to a Texas city jail

Jul 13th, 2014
Ron Converse

Look into the eyes of Ron Converse, to understand the cost of no regulations of city jails. His son, a 26-year-old welder from Wisconsin named Chad Silvis, killed himself in the Kemah City Jail after being arrested for public intoxication. He was pretrial, thus still innocent.

City jailers in Texas don't have to meet the minimum standards that county jails do. State officials aren't even sure how many city jails are operating across Texas, but estimate there are at least 350. Diana Claitor, director of the Texas Jail Project, describes this death as an unnecessary tragedy for families. She said, "People have blinders on and don't seem to be willing to work on this issue of suicides in jails."

Read St. John Barned-Smith's story to find out how such tragedies can be prevented.