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Harris County

During This Crisis, We’re Creating Solutions!

Oct 15th, 2020

Did you know that thousands of poor people are getting an extremely low quality of defense – no visits, no investigation, no research, no plan, no hope–in the Houston courts? Click below to listen to people in Harris County Jail telling us about their experiences with their court appointed attorneys: https://twitter.com/TxJailProject/status/1314961594380685313?s=19 Join Texas Jail Project and a powerful

Family questioning quality of medical care after Harris County inmate dies in custody

Jul 24th, 2019
Tressia Dennis

Our heart goes out to this family who was expecting their father to come home from Harris County Jail. Glad they have an experienced attorney like Randall Kallinen representing them.

Harris County Jail: A Nutritional Survey of Pregnant Inmates

Aug 21st, 2017

Earlier this year, a 22 year old graduate student named Kristina Sadler, working on her Masters in Social Work at the University of Houston, found herself thinking about the plight of pregnant inmates in the county jails of Texas. Not prisons, but county jails where a majority of the population is pre-trial detainees. In particular, most women detainees are in there for minor misdemeanors related to poverty, substance abuse/possession or mental health issues. Rarely for violent crimes.

Inmates Die at a Faster Rate in Harris County Jail

Nov 10th, 2016

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards was tougher with Harris County Jail and their overcrowding issues at last week’s meeting. Probably because they’ve been getting “variances” since 2005. Variances: TEMPORARY exceptions to the regulations as in allowing Harris County to house people in a cell by adding “low riders” or other temporary beds.
While HCSO jail has to hold people who are not given bail or are assigned an unaffordably high bond, they are bound by law to ensure that those people are held safely and humanely. Not happening. We hope that the new sheriff, DA and judges will work together to stop the terrible dealths of people like Tamara Moe’s brother who die there while awaiting trial. Read on for a great Huffington Post piece.

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.”

Inmate dies after Harris County jailhouse beating

May 6th, 2016
Ebenezer Nah

Diana Claitor, executive director of the Austin-based Texas Jail Project, said the circumstances surrounding Brown's death made her question whether Harris County jails were adequately staffed and supervised. Claitor said Texas county jails generally have a high employee turnover rate.

"But certainly in holding cells where … a lot of different people (are) held together, there should be a lot of supervision," Claitor said. "And especially if they have video, why are they not keeping up with the situation better?"

Sheriff slashes number of internal jail inspectors

Jan 24th, 2016
An incarcerated female inmate lies covered in a blanket

Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman has cut the number of internal jail inspectors in half and disbanded a "proactive" team of internal affairs investigators, a move civil rights advocates, defense attorneys and Hickman's political opponents criticized as a "step backward" that could cause more problems in an already troubled department.

Our Executive Director at TJP said in the article, "It sounds like the in-depth, complex kind of investigations of police misconduct won't get done, and that's extremely bad for all us," said Claitor. "That's the only way of digging deep.''

Calls for training, better cell checks follow Harris County Jail suicides

Dec 1st, 2015
Family members display a photo of Alex Guzman

Diana Claitor, director of the Texas Jail Project, which advocates for inmates, said both city and county jailers need better pay and training, especially for performing intake screenings.

“If there’s better pay and more training with (a) focus on caring for inmates, we’d have more officers who were more concerned and more careful,” she said.

19th Century Harris County Jail: shouting to be heard

Jan 10th, 2015

Finally! Houston Chronicle reporter James Pinkerton brings attention to an often overlooked subject that is so important to prisoners and their families: visitation at the Baker Street jail. Texas Jail Project has long wanted to shine a light on what one older father called 19th century conditions when he came to visit his son week after week, and couldn’t hear anything he said.
This excerpt is from our interview (see Inmate Stories) of an observant woman held 13 months there: “At Harris County Jail, the visitation rooms do not provide telephones; they have plexiglass windows with holes in them through which inmates and visitors have to shout at one another to be heard. It is extremely stressful to receive a visitor because it is so difficult to hear anything over all the shouting that is going on [around you]. I finally worked out a system with my uncles, who came to see me regularly, to bring paper and pen and we communicated by writing messages to one another, instead of trying to yell through the plexiglass…. Thus, even visitation was an unpleasant and stressful event ….” Despite her loneliness and despair during her long pretrial detention, when she saw how hard visitation was on family members, she told them to stop coming.

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?