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Gregg County

RIP Amy Lynn Cowling, 1977–2010

May 12th, 2016

From Amy’s mother, Vicki: “Her favorite flower was tropicana roses. She loved cats alot and she loved family memoriablia—always holding onto anything to do with the family. She had a thing with goodie bracelets and bows in her hair always.
Her favorite drink was Dr. Pepper as her father worked at the Dr. Pepper plant that was in Mt. Pleasant and Mt. Vernon for like 25 years, until he passed away in 2005.
Her favorite color was purple, and one year she decorated a Christmas tree all in purple. That is why at her funeral last month, we did a purple Christmas tree—since she missed this Christmas and died right afterwards.”

Voices from Solitary: Pregnant in Prison, Birth in Shackles

Oct 31st, 2015
People in jail

In 2008, the federal Bureau of Prisons passed a policy prohibiting the use of restraints on women in custody who are in labor, delivery or postpartum recovery. In 2009, Texas passed a law banning the use of shackles on incarcerated pregnant women during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. But, as both the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Jail Project have found, for women in the state’s prisons, mental hospitals, and county jails, the law has not always been put into practice.

Young people die in our local jails

May 16th, 2014

The numbers of people dying in county jails are adding up in 2014—and most recently, one of them was especially tragic. Only 18, Victoria Gray died in September in the Brazoria County Jail after that jail failed in so many ways, it will take a full investigation to sort that out and hold officers and officials accountable. Some, like Victoria, die of suicide while others die of what is called “natural causes,” and their deaths are not always investigated. (More have died in police custody or other facilities; we are only listing those in county jails.) Earlier this year, the list included Courtney Ruth Elmore, was 33 years old. She died February 11, 2014, around 7:00 a.m.. in the Brown County Jail. Was the staff trained to watch for respiratory failure? David Grimaldo, 18, a Perryton High School student died just hours after being booked into the Ochiltree County Jail. The Ochiltree County Sheriff Joe Hataway read from an autopsy report saying that the teen died of a medical condtion complicated by intoxication. Could it have been prevented?

Another death in Gregg County jail

Oct 16th, 2013

Betty Madewell speaks fondly of her son, Bobby. 51-year-old Bobby Madewell, Jr died last March in the Gregg county jail. His family filed a lawsuit against the jail just a few weeks ago. The days are a little longer now for Betty Madewell of Longview, who says she is still mourning the loss of her son, Bobby.”It’s very hard, we miss him dearly. We miss him every day,” she says.

TJP Message to Gregg County:

Mar 27th, 2013

a. Consider changing everything. People being held in your jail for whatever reason should not be subjected to a death sentence because of your policies, practices, and your jail doctor. No matter if you disagree with what meds inmates had been taking or how they took them, people incarcerated there have a constitutional right to

Will Amy Lynn’s Death Change the Way Jails Operate?

Jan 28th, 2013

This Longview News Journal article examines some of the many complications that occur when jails hold people with mental conditions and medications that are not on “their list,” but Amy Lynn’s mother puts forth a straightforward idea: couldn’t jail staff act with common sense “when inmates exhibit seizures, become incoherent, and howl,” like her daughter did?
The lawsuit again the Gregg County Jail has ended with a settlement, but the pain and questioning continues. Texas Jail Project, the Cowling family and many other families want to see officials work together, to find ways to prevent suffering and deaths in the future.

Gregg County on Trial in the Death of Amy Lynn

Jan 9th, 2013

Amy Lynn Cowling’s day in court is finally here–not a moment too soon for her family. It’s been just a little over two years since her three teen-age children, her mother, and the rest of her family found out that Amy Lynn had died right after Christmas in the Gregg County Jail. Amy Lynn’s relatives say they will wear purple, because that was her favorite color, but they dread what they will hear in open court, because some of the details of Amy Lynn’s last hours are painful and heartrending. The federal trial against Gregg County begins January 22nd in the U.S. District Court at Marshall.
Please continue reading for the Longview News-Journal’s latest story as well as a link to the excellent Texas Tribune article from 2011 by Brandi Grissom.

Gregg County Jail Faces Day in Court

Sep 30th, 2012

It’s about time. We the people and Amy Lynn Cowling’s family will see her tragic death scrutinized in a court of law.
The wrongful-death lawsuit against Gregg County Jail is set for trial in January, two years after 33-year-old Amy Lynn was jailed for a traffic ticket on Christmas eve and not given necessary medication or assistance during the next four days, until she died December 29th, 2010. Once more, we offer our sympathies to the family. Her mother Vicki Bankhead and the father of her three minor children filed the suit. Families suffer when they have to go through a lawsuit on top of losing their loved one, but they achieve so much in terms of raising awareness and changing our jails. A round of applause for Vicki and for Amy’s aunt Lisa and all the others who have never stopped speaking out about Amy Lynn! We await the trial–and hope for justice.

Aaron’s Mother Speaks Out: Will Texas Listen?

Aug 1st, 2011
Micah Reese

30-year-old Micah Aaron Garner died in the Gregg County Jail just six months after 33-year-old Amy Lynn Cowling died in the jail. Both had told jail officials they were addicted to methadone and had other medical issues as well. Both died in the throes of untreated withdrawal. Here is a statement by his mother sent to us July 31st.

Killer Jails?

Jul 5th, 2011

Do killer jails exist in the great state of Texas today? If so, where?
If you talk to someone who’s been in the Gregg County Jail, they might say that jail is one because they will not help you if you are in withdrawal from either legally prescribed medication or a drug you’re addicted to.