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In The News

Sandra Bland Case Shows Deficiencies in Jail Oversight

Jul 24th, 2015
Hands holding #justiceforsandy sign

When Sandra Bland was booked at the Waller County Jail, she told the staff she had attempted suicide before — a staff, it turns out, who had not been sufficiently trained on how to safeguard the well-being of inmates who are mentally ill, suicidal or pose a risk to themselves.

The commission has “made some serious efforts to try to increase training, but it’s still, in my opinion, extremely inadequate,” said Diana Claitor, executive director of the Texas Jail Project, which advocates for inmates.

Investigate Sandra’s death!

Jul 19th, 2015
Sandra Bland

The Austin Chronicle asked TJP’s Executive Director what could prevent further tragedies like the death of Sandra Bland. ‘We need there to be more training of jailers to have the knowledge and temperament to take their role as caretaker very seriously – because the emphasis on security and regimented rules leads to jailers who do not pay attention to the person who may be sick or angry or mentally ill,” says Diana Claitor. “Jailers need to look after the people in their care as if each was a relative instead of viewing them as the enemy. And we need the jail and jailers to be thoroughly investigated each and every time a person dies of suicide or any death inside the jail itself …. Finally, we need independent investigations by someone other than the Texas Rangers, who are not transparent in the least and are extremely connected to the local law enforcement.”

Advocates press for details in Waller County jail death

Jul 19th, 2015
Protesters hold signs

By St. John Barned-Smith, Houston Chronicle, July 19, 2015  The controversy surrounding the arrest of a 28-year-old woman who later committed suicide in jail continued to mount Saturday, as elected officials and social justice advocates pressed for more information about the incident. On July 10, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper arrested 28-year-old Sandra Bland after stopping her near

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.

Pregnant women in Texas county jails deserve better than this

Jun 26th, 2014
Women in jail

By Diana Claitor and Burke Butler, Dallas Morning News, June 26, 2014 A federal lawsuit in Wichita Falls shines a spotlight on a dramatic example of how the opportunity for life-saving medical intervention is often missed in county jails. When she was five months pregnant, Nicole Guerrero went into labor, called out for help from the

Uvalde Suicide Inspires Stories/Tributes

Nov 14th, 2012
Patulla Williams

Chelsi Moy published a wonderful story in the Missoulian about a beautiful woman who killed herself in the Uvalde jail. Read all of it here.

Patulla Williams had been dead for several hours before anyone thought to check on her. The 29-year-old was found d dead in a Texas jail cell, a television cord wrapped around her neck. Her death in December placed a tragic period at the end of a life plagued by trouble, a life that began in a foster home in western Montana.

Williams had struggled for decades with abuse from her early life, but she disguised it well, the hurt hidden behind a smile radiant enough to stop strangers in their tracks wherever she went. And Williams went a lot of places.

Villegas Wins Case After Being Shackled During Childbirth

Jun 2nd, 2011

Via The Tennessean A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Nashville mother who triggered a national outcry after she was shackled during labor and after giving birth while in custody of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. U.S District Court Judge William Haynes Jr. will set a hearing for damages against Metro government and

Do We Now Have Separate Jails for the Rich?

Sep 24th, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010 9:43 AM by Matt Clarke, Prison Legal News There are two criminal justice systems in the United States. One is for people with wealth, fame or influence who can afford to hire top-notch attorneys and public relations firms, who make campaign contributions to sheriffs, legislators and other elected officials, and who

Prison Legal News Sues Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice for Censoring Books

Nov 17th, 2009

Prison Legal News is an independent national publication that covers both prison and jail news/issues. Some jail and prison administrators in Texas have tried to block inmates from receiving it, despite that being unconstitutional.

In 2007, PLN won a suit against Dallas County Jail which had tried to ban newspapers and magazines for inmates.

Prison Legal News has now teamed up with the Texas Civil Rights Project in an important new case described in the following press release.

Support the excellent work of TCRP for First Amendment Rights across Texas.

Dallas County to Settle Two Jail Inmate Lawsuits

Jul 20th, 2009

By Kevin Krause, The Dallas Morning News Dallas County commissioners voted Tuesday to settle two federal jail neglect lawsuits for close to a half-million dollars. County officials say the lawsuits are the last major legal claims related to prior conditions in the jail system, which were described a few years ago by federal investigators as