Saturday, August 13, 2005

Harris County Detains Low-Risk Offenders With No Reason

The Harris County Jail is overflowing. Grits has previously argued that the local elected prosecutor and judges are mostly to blame.

Now it turns out that many jail residents are low-risk defendants who don't need to be there, but who remain incarcerated because they can't make bail.

Via
Solutions for Texas, we discover this recent report (Word doc) by the Justice Management Institute analyzing Harris County's "Pre-trial services" division. According to that analysis, the "unnecessary detention of low-risk defendants" contributes signficiantly the jail overincarceration problem. I might look at parts of this more carefully later on today -- it has a lot of useful history and background if you care about the Harris County Jail situation -- but Ann pulled the money quote pinning overcrowding blame on county bail policies:
the existence of this large block of apparently low risk defendants in detention should be a cause for concern. To the extent that defendants who pose no significant risk of nonappearance or of danger to public safety remain in pretrial detention because of inability to post bond, the County incurs significant and unnecessary costs for the operation of the jail. Such detention also appears to be contrary to Texas law requiring individualized consideration of the circumstances of each defendant in setting bail."
Hmmmm ... so Harris County's bail policies are "contrary to Texas law" and generate "unnecessary costs." A two-fer.

UPDATE: See more Grits Harris County Jail coverage.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

My nephew has been in the Harris County Jail for 17 weeks for marajuanna in his urine back in Jan. 05. He is in the cell of 70 inmates many harden criminal, that threaten his life on a daily basis. He is 21 and lives in constant fear. He also has to pay $100 a week to have someone to protect him from these people. He has every thing he does buy in comasary for the week stolen, and he cannot say a word for fear. This does not make sense to me, his lesson has been learned many times over and could be out in the world being a very productive person. But instead he is in there with a 30 capacity cell with 70 inmates and could not live to see tomorrow. Noone and I mean noone is watching out for him, except the one being paid off. Isn't that extortion.It is in my book. We have had to hire another attorney to start a lawsuit against the Harris County Jail for extortion and the fact that they said he would only be there at the most 12 weeks. I know why this jail does not recieve any federal funding and believe me we have written all our Senators and Congressmen about this matter. You will be hearing from us. And believe or not his bail was set at 150,000.00. That is not a typo. unbelievable!!!! Mary

Anonymous said...

Great he is where he belongs.

Hopefully he will learn and quit using drugs. I suspect his drug use is influncing many other young people. At least he is not on the street to talk up drug use and to introduce other young people to drug use.

Tell him to get his act together. Get with a program and get sober. Contribute to society instead of being a drag on society.

Just my opinion. Take it for what it is worth.

Signed

Parent of a recovering druggie.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Someone tells you their nephew, jailed for pot, is in an overcrowded cell having to pay protection money to keep from being beaten and you reply, "Great, that's where he belongs"?

I can't tell if you're as mean-spirited as your comment sounds or just flat-out delusional, but nobody deserves to be victimized in jail. Here's hoping your "recovering druggie" child found more compassion during his or her struggles than you seem to exhibit toward others.

Anonymous said...

To the person that was saying their relative is in there for marijuana and have gotten their commisary taken every week, I mean what did you expect? he is in HARRIS COUNTY JAIL, not DISNEYLAND! You cannot blame the jail for this person's stuff being taken. I mean come on, he needs to defend himself and not let them take his things. I mean even if he went and told the guards, they not going to do anything anyway, so it's no one's fault but his for even letting them take his stuff like that. I mean most of the cases in Harris County is theft-related, such as Robbery, Aggravated Robbery, ect, so why is it a surprise that someone is gonna 'test' you when you are in a cell with maybe half of them are in there for theft-related cases. My boyfriend has been in there since Feb. 05 and he has told me about the conditions in there, but thank goodness he has a bed and stuff and not on the floor, but I bet anything he will NOT let anyone take anything of his and that is REDICULOUS for paying someone $100 a month for 'protection' this is not the Penetentary, this is County Jail and in a place like that, you need to watch yourself and DEFEND yourself at all times. It's really not 'extortion' if he leans how to defend himself in there instead of paying someone to 'protect' him. Would he have done this in the real world too? You can't always depend on people to do things for you. I am sorry that he is in there, but if he don't 'toughen' up soon, he can be in more trouble than he is now because the inmates views him as a 'easy target' and no one deseves to be treated like that, but it is a thing called DEFENDING YOUR OWN SELF.

Anonymous said...

I'm sort of curious why he was arrested for marijuana in his urine? I'm guessing he was on probation? Curious what offence he committed to be pee tested?

To the:
"Anonymous said...
Great he is where he belongs.

Hopefully he will learn and quit using drugs. I suspect his drug use is influencing many other young people. At least he is not on the street to talk up drug use and to introduce other young people to drug use.

Tell him to get his act together. Get with a program and get sober. Contribute to society instead of being a drag on society.

Just my opinion. Take it for what it is worth.

Signed
Parent of a recovering druggie"

For one when will people wake up and understand that America has lost the "War on Drugs?" That's right America has lost this war! But our government will not tell you this. The war on terrorism will be just like the war on drugs, it won't do a damn thing except take away rights and freedom's of innocent American's.

So you're a parent of a recovering drug addict? That must make you a pretty terrible parent, not teaching and raising your child the right way. You should be ashamed of yourself! A little more communication with them, growing up would have helped!

Just because the government says that certain drugs, like cigarettes or alcohol is ok for "adults" to use and others are wrong doesn't make any sense. Doesn't really seem right for them to tell us what we can and can't do with our bodies, or at least what drugs we can consume.

Philip said...

The parent who posted the massive volley of ignorance should be drug out to time square pumped full of acid and then forced to watch the world for what it really is. Im guessing this lady had never done drugs and she has been brainwashed just like the rest of the population with this reefer maddness syndrome that has been around for longer than we should let it. If you look at the facts and not what the government says is morally right, then you would know that marijuana is not a bad drug. As a matter of fact Alcohol and Tobacco are way worse for you. But why are they legal you ask. TAX DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!! That is the plain and simple truth. The fact of the matter is that the reason for overcrowded jails is marijauna laws. If you want to criticize a parent for her son consumming a drug that will do him no harm. Then by all means make an ass out of yourself. But for the people who seek the truth dont waste our time with your blame game. People choose to do drugs. When the government takes that choice away then you have no freedom.

Anonymous said...

its a shame what happends in jails

thats something that kind of reminds me of politics


"meaning not to speak much of"

in jail horrible things occur,

and obviously thats no place for such kind people.
-=[meaning, stay out.]=-
-bnan

Anonymous said...

There is nothing amusing about this situation at all. Low-risk, non-violent, first-time offenders are being held way, way too long. A simple phone call could free many. The county judges (eckels for example) are sucking the daily state fee per inmate on purpose. This is the sick equivilant of a speed trap. Contact the governers office.

Anonymous said...

The Texas judicial system has been compared to that of the former Soviet Union. Texas is by far the worst state in the United States and I plan to move elsewhere ASAP.

Anonymous said...

MY HUSBAND WAS ARRESTED ON 9/16/06 FOR A CHARGE THAT IS NOT TRUE. HE WILL BE SERVING 3 MONTHS FOR A MISDEMEANOR. WHILE HE WAS BEING ARRESTED THE POLICE OFFICERS BEAT HIM UP FOR NO REASON, THE DA IS GOING ON HIS PRIORS AND MY HUSBAND HAS CHANGED HIS WAYS AND HAS BEEN OUT OF JAIL FOR 3 TO 4 YEARS, NOW ALL OF THE SUDDEN HE IS BEING HELD FOR A CRIME THAT IS NOT TRUE. A POSESSION OF A CONTRL SUBSTANCE, MY HUSBAND IS NOT A DRUG DEALER HE IS A FAMILY MAN WHO WAS IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME. I DO NOT THINK IT IS FAIR. PEOPLE HAVE RIGHTS AND THE CITY OF HOUSTON IS NOT LETTING THEM SPEAK THEIR MINDS INSTEAD THEY ARE ARRESTING THEM EITHER FOR THEIR SKIN COLOR OR THEIR PRIORS. SOMEONE NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS BECAUSE WE AS TAXPAYERS ARE WAISTING OUR MONEY TO HOLD NON CRIMINALS IN JAIL. WHO DO WE NEED TO COMPLAIN TO ABOUTTHIS MATTER SOMEONE NEEDS TO STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING.

Anonymous said...

my boyfriend has been in for a couple of weeks now and he HATES it. you do have to defend yourself and not let anyone boss you around yea county jail is not the penitentiary but most of the guys in there are used to that environment so that's what it will turn into. we need to do something about this overcrowding it's ridiculous. i hope somethign is done about this. any ideas?? it seems to be that many of us are concerned about this.

Anonymous said...

charity - love, one for another.
have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
have not charity, I am nothing.
have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Bible prophecy tells us that in the "last days" peoples hearts will turn cold toward one another.

Anonymous said...

charity - love, one for another.
have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
have not charity, I am nothing.
have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Bible prophecy tells us that in the "last days" peoples hearts will turn cold toward one another.

Anonymous said...

I am xtremely sorry you are going through this. I myself have done time in county aswell as prison and it was not a pleasant xpirience. keep your head up cause our lord is not low!! i am on parole right now till 2008 and let me tell one thing.. You teach people how to treat you. I had to fight to let them know they will not run over me. whether my butt got whooped or not i raised my fist at anybody who tryed to get over me. i will keep you in my prayers. stay strong!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

i know it's hard but we have to keep faith in god that's the only one with him now may not seem like this but god works on mysterious wayz this will be a lessoned learned for him!! and about the "great where he belongs" you were pobably hitting on a crack pipe while typin your nonsence down get a life your son us probably in the ack room snorting a line as your hitting the crack pipe get off line and get a life!!!! thank goodness you put anonymous i probably would've hunt you down and merked you for being such a bit**!!!! may your life be filled with horrible spirits!!!!

Anonymous said...

It's not a war on drugs, it's a war on americans. Users need help, not punishment. Yes, I speak from experience, and yes, I've been on both ends of this arguement. The only solution that worked was treatment.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. My son was just placed in Harris County for a charge he had been on probation for-class b MISDEMEANOR. For over 2 years they had him going to AA and counseling with convicted sex offenders. He is a private person and doesn't tell all of his business to strangers. The counselor, who wanted him to pay for extra sessions which he declined to do, then decided he wasn't opening up enough so she terminated him from the program and sent word to the court recommending he needed to do some jail time (she recommended 20 days). What a farce! They also made him take a lie detector test, asked him about things he did 3 years ago, and flunked him on the poly saying he was still drinking. Court deemed that a violation of probation. He personally paid for a hair follicle test to prove the poly was wrong and he passed the hair follicle. Time to go to court-Judge Bull asked the court clerk what she read in the documents(from counselor) and clerk said jail. My son's attorney tried to get the judge to look at letters of recommendation from AA and the results of the hair follicle test and Judge Bull wouldn't even listen. She didn't want to hear that he had been going to extra AA meetings and had been clean for 14 months. In fact, they periodically urine tested him and he always passed. Harris County and Judge Bull are just that - BULL. Now he is in for 180 days-long enough to lose a job and all of his possessions. There is no justice at Harris County - only ignorance and injustice.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention the name of the counselor, Susan Pocasangre at Obrien Counseling, whose report resulted in my son going to jail after being on probation for 2 years. I also forgot to mention he was 1 week away from his probation time being complete. Think that was just coincidence?

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention what your son was on probation for. My husband went through counseling with OBrien Counseling with Susan Pocasangre and we were very involved in family sessions with the treatmetn program. She really helped explain how we as a family could help my husband during his probation and after he got off to stay out of trouble. I think that she really helped us communicate with each other and I learned a lot of things about him that I didn't know before.

daisey said...

my husband has been in harris county jail since jan 10, 2011. they have him on scrap metal theft. he was picking up scrap metal and a man told him he could not have it to put it back which he did and humble police pulled him over after he left on 1960 and charged him with theft. they have only a complaint filed on him no indictment with a 50,000 dollar bond. can they really charge him and hold him with theft. this is not an aggravated crime where is the justice if anyone knows anything i can do anyone i can contact please email me a t terrydaisey@yahoo.com . thankyou