Friday, July 29, 2005

Homegrown Harris jail jam

Why is the Harris County jail overcrowded?

Because Harris County prosecutors and judges have been using a legal loophole to incarcerate low-level drug offenders who should be receiving drug treatment. A Texas state law passed in 2003 required judges to sentence first-time, low-level drug offenders to probation and treatment instead of state jail. Harris County prosecutors, though, relied on another provision of the law to impose up to six months incarceration in the county jail as a condition of probation.


Since that 2003 law passed, according to the ACLU of Texas Prison and Jail Accountability Project, the number of state jail felons sentenced to county jail as a condition of their probation increased by 188% (Word document).


No wonder the Harris County jail is full! They're choosing to incarcerate people at their own expense who the Legislature thought should receive cheaper and more effective drug treatment options. That makes it a homegrown problem, which will now require a homegrown solution: Governor Perry recently vetoed legislation that would have closed the loophole. (See Solutions for Texas and Kuff for more. UPDATE: New Kuff post Saturday.)

Top 10 Counties by number
of State Jail Felons (6/1/05)
Source: ACLU of Texas Prison and Jail
Accountability Project

County

State Jail Felons Sentenced to County Jail

Harris

941

Dallas

196

Galveston

42

Travis

39

Jefferson

30

Lamar

25

Navarro

24

Bexar

19

Webb

14

Collin

12

Total for all 254 Texas Counties

1,455

% of Total in Harris County

65%

For more information on the roots of Harris County Jail's overincarceration crisis, see Grits' Harris 'bail and jail' series linked here.

19 comments:

ttyler5@hotmail.com said...

ACLU study??? Yeah. Right.

:^D :^D :^D :^D :^D :^D :^D

What we really need is an ACLU accountability project.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yeah, because ACLU is making 1,000 people sleep on the floor of the jail.

Anonymous said...

the harris county probation system is designed to fail. they have made it to where it is virtually impossible to get through your probation, without some sort of violation, hints the fact you go back to jail once again contributing to the overcrowding, treated like a murderer from the jailer for some little misdemeanor. harris county jail is the most corrupt place I have ever witnessed, and I think it is real conveneant that they do not have cameras in there where they search you when you get there. i saw a kid get his head smashed into a wall for asking another man what the officer said. you are verbally and physically abused by these out of shape mad at the world cops that can't make it any where else in the world so they joined the roughest toughest gang out there, the houston police department.many things need to be done around our jail system and probation, because there are too many people getting hurt and harrased by people in a so called position that can get away with murder. it will always be your word against theres I just pray that someday someone will take the time to look into these people, problems, and our jail in general. everybody makes a mistake, and this is no way to have to pay for it. you can go there some little minor infraction of the law and witness more crimes that are far worse than you did by the smae people that put you there. they are commiting assault after assault and terroristic threats it has got to stop.

Anonymous said...

My son has been in the county jail for 5 1/2 months. Why? He violated his drug probation by smoking marijuana. He signed for RSAT (a "drug treatment" program) but he's waiting for a space! Apparently, there's no limit to how long a person must wait. If there's no space, then why are they assigning people to this program?
Harris County is indeed a very corrupt jail system. He has been thrown out of the shower naked because two other guys were talking over the wall in the restroom. He has had his head slammed against the wall for asking why. He witnessed numerous abuses, deputies punching and hitting other inmates. Why, why is nothing done? My son is not violent. He graduated from high school with excellent grades. He was working full time when he got the violation. I realize he needs some punishment, but how long does he have to stay there? He's in JAIL, yet every day he goes to work in and around the jail. He is permitted to go outside to work also. Something is very wrong with this jail system. If anyone knows an organization for jail reform, please publish it in this blog.

James Meyer said...

It has been a shocker for me to find out just what goes on in Harris Co. jail. To get thrown in the HOLE for asking for a pain pill. Head shoved into the wall because you did not understand what the guard said. Having 2 men beat you up just because 2 guards ask them to. To have your name called out for your mail and just as you reach for it they smile and throw it into the trash can. After the beating, thrown into the HOLE without mattress or blanket and left for 10 hrs. It is common to see blood on the walls and floor. The guards are "want-to-be-cops" They are more than bullies. This system is so screwed up. Harris Co. needs to be monitored some way and held accountable for their actions. This is America and not some third world country. Did I fight for my country so this kind of injustice could go on? I could write a book and name names {guards} as well as some law officers. Harris Co. is the richest in Texas.Perhaps thats why they get by with this. signed:Meyer

Anonymous said...

I had a very short stay at harris county, which to me seemed to last forever.I was there for possession and it was the first and last time i have ever been in trouble. The way they treated me and the other females there was crazy you would think we were the worst or the worse.When i got there me and another female where taken to a hall alone and searched by a male guard.Then taken to a holding tank and kept there for about a day with around 5o other women, the guards there have some kind of way of yelling at you that makes you fell like your worthless. I was threatend by one guy that he was gonna take me someehere in the jail and leave me there alone for a week and then he would think about letting me out. Me and countless other females were pushed hit by male guard for no reason. There are male guard watching females using restroom and taking showere. They all try to flirt with you then if you say something all hell breaks loose.While i was there they didnt hand out no mail or take any from us the only contact was phone calls.Visits were cancelled just cause and we would be put o lock down for no reason.The short stay was hell from the day i entered to the second i left. Harris county is the worst place to go. Nobody deserves to be treated like that.Harris county needs to change starting with the gurads and then on

Anonymous said...

my son is hiding.. running from probation violation that he was not guilty of...... this is America.. why dont we help people instead of hurt them.. he is in his 30's and hiding.. running.. scared.. educated, went thru divorce and needs medical attention and his family.. he is scared of the treatment that harris county system ... i havent seen or heard from him in 2 years.. what does he do?? who can he talk to? what will happen to him..? he has no money,, homeless, at age 35 and very smart and scared.... unjust.. there is no justice.. anywon who knows a good attorney that can fight violation of 10 yr probation..help..

Anonymous said...

fuck harris county and the sherriffs department,and I dont care if it all falls down to morrow

Anonymous said...

The jail system may be corrupt and unfair, but no one has to go to jail. And since by now we all know what jail is like, why do we still go? If there were more law abiding citizens then the jail population would dwindle down to two and few. Not everyone that goes to jail is innocent.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is able to keep out of jail just like that. I personally am running from a warrant, and have been in Harris Co. three times, all while I was seventeen. I am not a violent person, I am not a bad person, and yet I was put in cells with guys ten years older than me who were waiting to go to prison.
Does this sound like a good system to you?

Anonymous said...

I have learned that the guards can
beat up whoever they want and then
accuse them of beating up a guard
Then take away visitation for a month and not give them a toothbrush for over a month and no
shower.Then because their color is
different from others they are singled out.What was suppose to be a one week stay pending a misdemeanor for pushing someone ended up being a felony assault against a guard.One immate fought the guard and 8 gave been accused
because they belong in the cell
no proof needed.Just being in the
wrong place at the wrong time. A
childs life is now ruined from this
lost a job..will not be able to graduate now,has a record for something he is not guilty of,owes
a lot of money,and does not know
what he did wrong except for pushing a boy in school that owes him money and refused to pay him
I have changed how I feel about our
legal system for sure

Anonymous said...

Don't break the law and it won't be a problem. Seems easy to me.

Anonymous said...

harris county jail is the most upsetting scene. especially lately, they are crowding these people into very small spaces because they violated probation... yeah it's true that is the main reason people are in there. that and waiting to be transfered to drug treatment facilities or prison the wait can be treacherous.. my husband is in for probation violation but no word yet as to when or if he will be getting out or transferred.. i was in for 4 months before getting my probation reinstated .. it's not a nice sanitary place for women either just so you know , neglect is not the way to reform anyone.. but who am i just another human , not an above the law super being like the cops believe they are.

Anonymous said...

They are threatening, worthless pieces of crap. The only other police department that is worse than Houston is Shenadoah, but their jail isnt as bad.

Anonymous said...

Try to just stop at the curb in Harris County and look at a map. A policeman will come up and tell you if you don't move, he is going to arrest you.

We ask him for directions, as where we come from the policemen are very nice and help people. But this "piece of crap cop" started hollering at us and said if you don't move right now, I am going to arrest you. Makes us really feel welcome in this corrupt city.

I for one would like to cut Harris County from the State of Texas and let them be their own State, the government there along with the Judical or should I say unjudicial system acts as if they are accountable to no one and unfortunately, when the Governor backs them, they are not accountable to anyone.

Anonymous said...

The only county jail that is actually hot. It is elbow to elbow on the floor in a sweaty, stank, way overcrowded rat cage. If the cops feel like it, they whoop your ass blue and purple and then throw you in seg with no contact until the bruises heal and then deny the whole thing. F*** them hos.

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