Monday, April 09, 2007

Deaths, overcrowding, failed inspections top concerns at Texas county jails

Having been focused on the Texas Legislature while it's in session, I haven't paid as close attention to county jail issues as I did during the interim, but a lot has been happening around the state in recent weeks, enough to make me think I'll attend the May 10 Jail Standards Commission hearing (in Austin) to check out the action. There should be a lot going on. Here are some key recent Texas jail-related headlines to let you know why I think that may be an eventful meeting.


Roadsidebetty said...

Just two days prior to the inspection that Dallas County was expecting I was visiting an inmate at Lou Sterrit who had gotten a cut on his foot on the stair case. For three days he alerted the staff on each shift of the cut and the infection that was rapidly growing. By the third day the cut had a large abcess of puss and his toe had enlarged to twice the normal size, obviously Staph infected. Becoming alarmed by the lack of medical treatment I inquired with the unit, alerting them again to a situation which was potentially placing everyone in the overcrowded tank in jeopardy of contracting Staph infection. I was assured that he was on the list and that the nursing staff was aware of the situation. (Keep in mind no socks, dirty floors where he contracted the infection, no bandaids, no topical antibacterial available to clean the wound.) I then inquired at the downstairs tower and alerted them to the situation, they told me to call the general information line when I got home to report a medical emergency. This is how you contact the nursing staff. I held on three different phone lines for approximately one and half hours each. The calls ended with the general information person connecting me to the nursing staff which was an answering machine. The other two calls when I complained of the fact that emergency care needed emergency attention from a live human being earned me two disconnections. By the next morning I phoned health and human services who directed me to call the Parkland Hospital liaison...another answering machine. To date no one has ever called me back. I then phoned the court house and spoke to someone in adult probation and asked them if they could connect me to the staff sargent. After informing him of the situation he told me that when he looked in the system there was no notification of medical care request for this inmate. Another words not one of the jail employees on any of the various shifts for three days actually could be bothered to perform their job. I was given nothing but run around and empty promises. All the while wonder. It occurred to me then that the level of apathy was so incredibly high and alot of it is due to the fact that the people who work there are used to being unaccountable and the new rules instituted require they actually perform their jobs. The smoking breaks have been eliminated, the going out of the building for lunch and breaks has been eliminated. It left me feeling that it is utterly irresponsible in light of the conditions and circumstances with this facility too put detainees in their care. Beyond the repairs and improvements there lies the most broken thing and it pervades the whole place...the people who work there are broken! I think that that there should be some kind of liaison appointed to act as an advocate for these human beings, maybe it could be a volunteer program, that will spend their time making sure these employees perform their jobs. Because as it stands there are no checks and balances and they know it. Thank you for your continued attention to this as well as other facilities suffering from the same problems.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the way that the jails are run is totally inhumane. I speak from experience as I have someone in the Bexar County jail now and the treatment is beyond horrible. My inmate went in ill with several diagnosed diseases, non that are comminucable, yet dibilitatitng to his health without conitnuance of medications; which he has not has for over 60 days now. We are awaiting trial with no bond, I thought we were innocent until proven guilty in this country? My inmate is innocent, yet is treated like he is guilty! Then treated like he is not human. My dog gets the royalty treatment at home compare to that jail. I hope something is done soon, I get told on how some inmates are ill with conditions that need medical attention soon and are denied. One with a staph infection too.There needs to be some advocacy for the prisoners, inmates!!!