Ector County (Odessa) is one of the rare Texas jails of any size that's above capacity, though lately not by much.
In Madison County (Madisonville), the jail had a leaky roof and the locks to all the cell doors could not be operated electronically, requiring use of a key. (Grits mentioned the other day that locks and keys are more important to human security than most people give them credit for; nowhere is that more true than a jail.)
In Presidio County (Marfa), TCJS found fire safety violations, failures to meet training requirements and one jailer working who was unlicensed.
Tiny (population-wise, anyway) Stonewall County (Aspermont) was not adequately assessing inmates on intakefor mental health and suicide prevention criteria. Apparently one mentally ill inmate was incarcerated more than a month without being properly identified and referred. Also inmates weren't being given the required minimum amount of exercise/recreation time, which by TCJS rule is a paltry one hour per day, three days per week. On the day of the inspection, one jailer was working who was not properly licensed.
Slightly larger Yoakum County (Plains) had not provided adequate training to its staff and had not tested fire extinguishers or emergency power equipment as frequently as required.
Young County (Graham)was using new recruits in the jail before they'd received required training and jailers were not completing the required screening instrument for mental disabilities/suicide prevention.
The Zavala County Jail (Crystal City) is another rare jail with two dorms over capacity. Jailers had not received required life-safety training and the required Suicide Screening Form was not being completed immediately upon intake.
Click though on the bulleted links above for more detail on any specific county. It's a bit surprising that so many very small jails are on the list and none of the larger jails have lately been deemed non-compliant - for a while there, the big jails topped the list. Perhaps dramatically reduced jail populations have relieved their problems, which were frequently a function of overcrowding and/or understaffing. One hopes it's not an indication that the new administration (their long-time executive director Adan Munoz retired last year, replaced by his long-time understudy, Brandon Wood) has become hesitant to go after the more politically powerful players in larger counties.
Maybe it's good news that none of the larger counties (and only Ector among mid-sized counties) are on the commission's s#%t list. Perhaps it's a sign that the larger county jails are improving and professionalizing. Or perhaps it's a bit to early to make that inference. Another possibility is that regulators lately have focused on sanctioning jails in smaller, less-politically potent counties - either because there's less blowback than from sanctioning larger jurisdictions or perhaps because they'd been ignored in the past when the big jails dominated the commission's time. And, of course, the commission does not have adequate inspection staff, so the lack of big counties on the non-compliant list could just mean that TCJS hasn't gotten to those facilities yet this year. ¿Quien sabe? There's not enough information to tell, these are just the questions floating around in my head as I read these reports.
In other news garnered from perusing the TCJS website, I saw this new report on staff turnover (pdf) which found that Texas county jails statewide collectively suffered a 2% turnover rate in the month of March. If that figure held year round and jails really do lose 24% of their staff each year, that's a large number.
Another TCJS report (pdf) revealed that, in the month of May, county jails spent $6.45 million housing 5,406 offenders on immigration "holds" for a collective 109,476 bed days waiting for the feds to pick them up.
It's been a while since I've attended a Commission on Jail Standards meeting, which as formal public hearings go are remarkably well-attended by county officials and sometimes a hoot. And unfortunately, I'll be on vacation when the next one rolls around in August. It'd be great to have interns or somebody to help cover such TCJS meetings, sanctions, and other county jail issues. (Ditto for juvenile stuff.) The MSM have abandoned the beat, for the most part, and except in spurts this blog does not have the resources to effectively follow far-flung county jail issues. That's especially true where the local media don't provide particularly keen or critical coverage, as is often the case in rural jurisdictions. At the August commission meeting, which I'll have to miss, there will be a "workshop" (see the agenda [pdf]) where commissioners consider revisions to standards in the following areas:
- Remote Holding Cells
- Audible Communications
- Supervision Outside the Security Perimeter
- Work Assignments