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In The News

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.''



Larsen, Ling: Stop jail suicides and deaths – here’s how

Jan 6th, 2016

Is Texas providing enough oversight to protect vulnerable people who are jailed, the majority of whom are still considered innocent in the eyes of the law? Despite concerns recently raised by state lawmakers, the answer clearly is, no.



Waco: Lawsuits and Violations in the Jack Harwell Jail

Dec 29th, 2015
Hands in cuffs

TJP staff authored this Waco Tribune guest column about neglect, abuse, and death occurring in Waco's privately run Jack Harwell jail.



Bonding Behind Bars

Dec 2nd, 2015
Woman breastfeeding

The Travis County jail is one of four nationwide — and the only in Texas — to allow new moms to breastfeed in custody.

“It’s in the interest of everybody to really assist a woman in that situation to rebuild her life and create a healthy home for her child,” said Diana Claitor, director of the nonprofit Texas Jail Project.



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.



Fort Bend sheriff pushes back against criticism over jail suicides

Nov 30th, 2015
Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls

TJP director Diana Claitor spoke to Houston Chronicle reporter Emily Foxhall about the number of suicides in Fort Bend county’s jail. That jail in fast-growing Fort Bend currently holds 850 to 1,000 inmates on a given day.
“Of those incarcerated in county jails statewide, more than 60 percent have not been convicted yet,” said Claitor, and “if they cannot post bail, they must remain in an atmosphere that can be hostile, depressing and even threatening.” She went on to say that much of the time, people are treated in a generalized way: “They’re all the enemy.” Sheriff Troy Nehls defended his staff and said that the state of Texas had failed by not funding adequate mental health care.



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.



Inmate Advocates Relieved by Ruling on Phone Charges

Oct 26th, 2015
Jail telephone

San Antonio Express News By Mike Ward and St. John Barned-Smith Austin Bureau FCC Calls Rates ‘Egregious’ Prison advocates on Thursday hailed a Federal Communications Commission ruling that slashed “unconscionable and egregious” rates for telephone calls from jails and prisons, a move that could benefit thousands of Texas families with incarcerated loved ones. In Texas,



The Austin Chronicle Best of Austin 2015 – Best Justice for Mamas Behind Bars

Oct 9th, 2015
Austin Chronicle Best Of 2015

For the first time ever, Texas county jails will be required to report on how they care for pregnant inmates – to ‘fess up about food, bedding, and medical care. That’s thanks to hard work by the Texas Jail Project, the ACLU of Texas, and Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman. The three groups joined forces to protect pregnant mothers in county jails this legislative session by helping get HB 1140 passed. The law requires accountability, transparency, and solid data to improve the lives of mamas behind bars.



The Death Of Victoria Gray: How Texas Jails Are Failing Their Most Vulnerable Captives

Sep 16th, 2015
Victoria Gray

Just over a year ago, 18-year-old Victoria was found hanging from a bookshelf inside her isolated jail cell. An investigation into her death exposed that jailers, in direct violation of the law, failed to check on her nearly a dozen times and failed to contact a judge for days despite her mental health screening results. In honor of Victoria, Think Progress took a closer look at suicides in Texas jails and found a deadly and systemic pattern of neglect. “A lot of people don’t realize how much damage can be done to individuals in the county jails,” says Texas Jail Project’s Executive Director, Diana Claitor.