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Texas Jails Troubled by Deaths, Negligence and Failed Inspections

For decades Texas jails have been cesspool's of misery, medical neglect, brutality and over crowding. Class action litigation in the 1970's alleviated some of the worst aspects of the Texas jail system and led to modest improvements. By the late 1990's the jail consent decrees and injunctions had been removed thanks to the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Within a few short years, Texas jails had reverted to their old ways.
Dallas County Jail has done it again. Less than a year after the James Mims debacle, which left the mentally retarded man without water for 11 days, Dallas jailers again deprived another prisoner of water for 4 days.
Gil Martinez, 30, was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing. Mr. Martinez, who has mental health problems, plugged up his toilet and flooded his cell to get attention. Jailers responded by shutting off the water.

According to Sgt. Peritz, the water in Martinez' cell was turned off on August 3, 2005 and no one noticed, until August 7, that it had not been turned back on. Policy implemented following the Mims incident requires that both a supervisor and the jail commander be notified before a prisoner's water is turned off. The jail commander ultimately decides. If and when the decision is made to terminate the water supply policy requires that: 1) it must be restored within 24 hours; 2) face-to-face contact must be made twice an hour; 3) each of 3 8-hour shifts must flush the toilet; and 4) the prisoner must have 3 opportunities a day to drink.
Vivian Lawrence, a mental health expert, asked, Do they have no reporting during the day? Do they just come and go? Is there no accountability to their superiors?

Ms. Lawrence has repeatedly offered to train jailers, on her own time and free of charge. The county has resisted her offers citing overtime costs.
Attorney David Finn, who represents many injured prisoners, including James Mims, says, It would seem high time that an outside investigation be initiated into these barbaric procedures. They've been going on for five to 10 years, and it's painfully obvious that our local leaders are unwilling or unable to change things.

Mr. Martinez was fortunate. Medical staff say his health was not affected by the deprivation. But that begs the question, what did he drink for four days?" For those who have never been inside here's a hint. When the water is shut off from the outside, the only water left is in the toilet.

Dallas Deaths

A September 15, 2005 edition of the Dallas Observer reminds readers that problems in Dallas lockups have been around for years.

Mark McLeod fought with his brother, in his grandmother's kitchen, on November 28, 2000. It was not a big fight, more like a shoving match. But police arrived and Mark was arrested. His arrest began a two year trek through Texas institutionsa two year journey that ended in death.
A man with lesser promise might have been overlooked. But Mark had talent. He was a graduate of Texas Tech University, with a degree in journalism. But the aspiring reporter was acting strangely, more volatile, more aggressive. This is what prompted the call for police the day of the fight.
McLeod's arrest prompted a medical exam. After a month of observation, Mark was diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia, an incurable condition that includes paranoia and auditory hallucinations. On November 30, 2000, Mark went before a jury and was declared incompetent to stand trial. He was then transferred to Terrell State Hospital.

After 19 months of intensive treatment, Mark was finally stabilized. On July 22, 2002 doctors approved his release. He was returned to the Lew Sterrett Jail, in Dallas County Texas, where his court appointed attorney, Julie Doucet, labored to arrange his release. With a phone call to his brother Mike the misdemeanor case could be resolved and Mark could return to his grandmother's, the home he had known since he was 5-years old.
It should have been routine. Thirty-two milligrams of Trilafon 4-times a day, with a stern warning. Failure to adhere to instructions and symptoms of schizophrenia, paranoid type will recur..." But Lew Sterrett, the death trap of Dallas County, dropped the ball again. Five days later, on July 27, 2002, Mark McLeod hanged himself in his cell, not a trace of Trilafon in his system.

A distraught Doucet tried to investigate. But District Attorney Bill Hill and Sheriff Jim Bowles closed ranks and squashed her efforts. Yet even Hill's office admits that the Dallas jail is its most troubled client.
The Dallas Observer calls the death of Rosa Allejo a textbook Lew Sterret death." Jailed for a misdemeanor prostitution charge in February 2002, Allejo died in less than 3 weeks from medical neglect.

Diagnosed with a mental disorder, Allejo was taking lithium to stay normal. She begged for her medicationoh how she begged. She started by eating toilet tissue and yelling. She graduated to eating her own feces.
She finally died of caffeine toxicity from eating the coffee grounds provided by guards. In the end, like McLeod, she never received a single dose of her medication.

One of the side-effects of lithium deprivation, in a mentally ill patient, is a spate of unusual cravings. That her behavior went undiagnosed indicates either incompetence or neglect or both. Yet the county continues its defense at-all-costs strategy instead of seeking solutions.

It floors me," says Lawrence. This has been going on for so long...I think there is just a culture at the jail where they just say, We've done this for so long, and we're not going to change.'

What the jail has done for so long is kill prisoners, deny them medical care and house them in subhuman conditions.

If you look at the 1998 report and the report the current consultant did in February of this year [2005], there are a lot of the same recommendations," says Lawrence.

Even the one bright light on the commissioner's panel has dimmed. First-term County Judge Margaret Keliher, who initiated the most recent study, has now joined her colleagues' unsuccessful efforts to squash its publication. The report, by Dr. Michael Pusis, is so damaging that it has become a source of evidence for several lawsuits against the jail. The county paid over $100,000 to the law firm Figari and Davenport for its failed effort to have the report silenced.

We have found more complaints from the Dallas County jail about the medical care, and we have found more incidents arising from the inmates at Dallas County than any other big county jail in Texas," says Terry Julian, the executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. (TCJS)
That would include Houston's Harris County jail population of about 9,000 and an average 2,500 more prisoners than Dallas County.

We find that the Dallas jail generates more complaints about medical and mental health conditions than all the other jails in the region put together...the Dallas jail presents by far the greatest problem in the region with regard to jail medical and mental health care," he said.
I was surprised just how sick the patients are at Dallas County," says Dr. Owen Murray, chief executive of University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Correctional Care. You have three times the rate of diabetes in the jail as you do in prison and twice the rate of hypertension.
The gravity of Dr. Murray's statement can only be properly understood if you understand that he is comparing Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), with a population of over 150,000, to Dallas County's 7,000 prisoners. Until recently UTMB managed the health care of both jails and had come under fire for the deplorable conditions of Dallas jails. Murray admits that UTMB underestimated the scope of Dallas County's needs when they took the job in 2001.

In reality, however, UTMB's predecessor contributed much to the present problem. Investigations of Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) in 2002 alone revealed shocking situations. Health care providers punished suicidal prisoners by stripping them naked and leaving them in their cells alone and often without medication. One problematic prisoner gouged out his own eye and tried to flush it down the commode. Medical staff responded by wrapping his hands to prevent further injury.

WFAA-TV and the Dallas Morning News exposed DCHHS's problems in 2002 which included the daily practice of the jail's mental health director, Rita Moss, leaving work early everyday to run her private practice.

Former criminal judge Jim Pruitt called the DCHHS employees damn lazy.
Attorney Finn describes a medical practice in the jail that he still can't explain. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in meds are just getting flushed down the toilet," he says. ...We're talking about prescriptions written by physicians licensed by the state of Texas.

This is exactly the situation Mark McLeod found himself in those five fatal days before he died. His life literally flushed down the toilet by damn lazy" employees.


Michael Scott was arrested and jailed in March 2004. Several weeks later he began to have asthma attacks. When he couldn't get adequate treatment he began to call home daily. On August 2, Scott, struggling to breathe, was rushed by ambulance to Parkland hospital where he was eventually stabilized.

On September 3, Scott again required emergency treatment at Parkland. This time doctors prescribed specialized treatment to strengthen his lungs. But instead of the prescribed drugs the jail medical staff issued Scott a standard inhaler used for treating mild asthma. His phone calls home got more frantic.

On September 14, Scott was hospitalized again. This time he required treatment for ten days. His father and mother, Donald and Shirley, arrived at Parkland to find their son hooked to a respirator, connected to tubes and bloated out of proportion.

The doctors couldn't guarantee us he was going to live," said his father.
Even after his 10-day ordeal the jail still refused to give him the drugs prescribed by the hospital doctors. Only after one more visit to the hospital did he get relief. With the help of a pulmonologist, who personally ensured that the jail medical staff provide the exact treatment prescribed, did Scott eventually recover.

The doctor told us the bill he accumulated in intensive care was a lot more expensive to the county than the medication he should have been getting," said his father. His mother told reporters that months later Scott's speech was still slurred, he walked unsteadily for weeks and was still at risk for memory loss.

Jerry Wayne Mooney languished in Lew Sterrett for over three years as guards abused him, medical staff neglected him and lawyers fought fiercely to save his life.

Mooney was hospitalized after a shootout with Irving police, in which he sustained almost a dozen bullet wounds. His stomach was so severely shredded that his intestines pushed through the muscle and over his waist. After a month of treatment Mooney was released from Parkland hospital and taken to the jail.

Mooney spent his first 62 days in solitary confinement where his colostomy bag was not replaced for 11 days. Neither did jail medical staff provide abdominal support binders. The result was a hernia so distended it reaches from breast-bone to groin. Even after doctors scheduled the operation to repair the damage, the jail failed on multiple opportunities to provide him access to treatment.

The quality of care is abysmal," says Tona Trollinger, Mooney's attorney. They know that his attorneys were watching him, and they still haven't been giving him quality medical care. They don't give him colostomy bags; the administration of the medication is erratic; they don't allow him to see a doctor when he asks.

I was put in solitary and left to rot," says Mooney.


A scathing report decrying the medical conditions in the jail was submitted by Dr. Michael Pusis in February 2005. A follow-up report was recently issued in mid-September to bolster the original findings. The second report proposed specific recommendations from a committee of health care experts as well as Dr. Pusis.

Recommendations include: the construction of 20 new examination rooms; a 40-bed infirmary with bed-side electrical outlets for IV-pumps and line of sight access, a 120-bed clinic for chronically ill patients, a 50-to-80 bed unit for mentally ill patients and 24-hour nursing care. The new report also details a plan for more efficient distribution of medication and recommends that medical assessment and living assignments be taken out of the hands of jail guards.

Judge Margaret Keliher was openly pleased at the recommendation that guards be relieved of the job of making medical assessments at booking. The new report recommends that two medical staff and two mental health staff be available to assess incoming prisoners.

Health expert Vivian Lawrence applauds the changes but is worried that the only implementation plan by commissioners is two years away. That's two years down the line," she said. We need some things implemented now.
District Attorney Bill Hill is fighting the release of this latest report saying that it contains comments by consultants...never intended to be a part of the final copy of the Recommendation Report." Hill also fought the release of the original report citing concerns that its contents would support lawsuits leveled at the jail. He lost that effort.

Pusis still voices concerns that the city refuses to buy a more advanced X-ray machine designed to more efficiently detect tuberculosis. His concerns also include the city's ability to hire adequate medical staff.

Prisoners of Paperwork

Lowest on the list of Dallas' abused are the prisoners of paperwork. Scott Williams looked so bad when be appeared in court or, DUI charges that Criminal Court Judge Lisa Fox turned him loose.
When a new computer system failed to integrate properly, in early 2005, Williams was one of hundreds lost in the shuffle. Williams tells of a week of human misery.

I was in hell buddy. There was shit on the toilets...I'm talking an inch of shit. I just squatted over it and pushed and tried to aim as best I could.

Williams said he was stripped naked and placed in a cold suicide cell for 12 hours because he wasn't eating the sandwiches provided by the jail. Naked and shivering, Williams said he occupied his time trying to avoid the broken glass on the cell floor.

Judge Fox has been commended by both defendants and lawyers for exercising wisdom by releasing prisoners. She said she released Williams because, [he] wasn't getting his medication. I believed he was suffering and that he didn't need to be in jail.

But the problems with the jail is stated more eloquently by the guard who, in spite of Judge Fox's order, decided to keep Williams an extra day.
He said, Fuck Judge Fox; she didn't call my mama, so why the fuck should I give a shit what she says?

Anyone who has spent time in a jail, working or living, can tell you that this attitude is not as rare as many would like to believe.

Three other prisoners would consider Williams fortunate. Elizabeth Davis, Ronald Weathers and Billie Sue Byrd have filed charges against the Dallas jail for the same computer foul-up that trapped Williams.

The three former prisoners are asking $100,000 apiece in damages. On October 4, 2005 county commissioners unanimously denied the request for damages. The judges based their denial on records produced by the same computer system responsible for the foul-up, Adult Information Systems (AIS).

That speaks for itself," retorted G. David Smith, attorney for the former prisoners.

Records show that Ms. Davis was arrested December 30, 2004, her case was dismissed February 22, 2005 but she was not released until March 29, thirty-five days later.

The county defended itself saying it was holding Ms. Davis on other charges.

Smith pointed out that waiting 35 days extra is way longer than anyone would have to stay in jail over a traffic ticket, which is what these other charges amounted to.

The Sheriff's department identified 30 prisoners held past their release dates. The Dallas Morning News identified over 40 and even the commissioners believe the number is higher than that. But commissioner Mike Cantrell, who championed the installation of AIS, said the claims were denied because As you whip up hysteria, we get more of these claims filed. We analyzed the claims and the claim was denied based on the facts.
That's such hogwash," said Smith. Typical tactic for the county --deny liability and run up legal costs. I hope we can spank them in court.
AIS originally cost $3 million to install. The county paid Microsoft an additional $460,000 to clean up the mess and recommend improvements. Complete clean-up is not expected until sometime in 2006.

Micah McDaniel may have been most fortunate of all. McDaniel was not just worried about getting out. Had his attorney Ray Jackson not enlisted the help of Judge Creuzot no record would have existed that McDaniel was even in jail.

The City Next Door

Pus oozed from the infected wound on James Wright's head; gnats fed on the seeping fluids. Wright was a prisoner in Fort Worth's Tarrant County jail. The wound was from recent brain surgery to have an abscess removed.
The relentless gnats infested the jail infirmary waiting room.

These are the conditions faced by Wright and other prisoners in Tarrant County jail. Thirteen times, between April 2 and April 25, 2005, Wright had requested treatment. By the time he was finally seen, on April 26, his incision was infected and another abscess had formed. Months of missed medication left Wright unable to walk unaided. Still, Wright was more fortunate than others.

Just before he died Christopher Brown wrote, I have full blown AIDS... I am starting to get sick now. I don't know what the problems is in medical, but for the last two or three weeks I have been told that I would see the doctor the following Monday, and I don't." In another letter Brown said, ...if they had seen me from the beginning, things wouldn't be as bad, because I would have my meds." Brown died in custody.

Kendric Carter, 30, had received medical treatment. But when he returned for a follow-up on June 17, 2004, his medical chart was missing.

I cannot adequately [treat] patient without chart!" the doctor noted. Find chart and show metoday!!" Carter died, in custody, from hepatitis B on August 5, 2004.

Mario Paschall, 19, was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome at age 5. Marfan is a condition whereby tearing in the aorta allows blood leakage. Shortly after his arrival at the jail, in August 2004, Paschall developed severe stomach and chest pain accompanied by vomiting. He was first treated for gas, then was diagnosed for gall bladder trouble. He was sent to John Peter Smith (JPS) Hospital, the same hospital that had monitored him since he was 5-years old, but instead of assistance the doctors misdiagnosed him and sent him back to jail with some nausea medication. When Paschall continued to complain the next day he was given Pepto-Bismol. He was found dead on his cell floor the next morning. A nurse tried unsuccessfully to revive him with a defective defibrillator.

Conditions at the jail are so unconscionable that medical staff often jump ship or mutiny. Employees routinely complain about inadequate staffing, defective equipment and out-of-date meds. When Thomas Williams, a registered nurse, went to work at the jail in October 2003 he found 20-year-old defibrillators and expired IV's.

Consultants with the American Jail Association found the jail in need of drastic changes. An audit revealed that tests ordered by doctors were often not performed or performed improperly. Equipment was inaccessible, prescriptions went unfilled, backlogged and at times were illegally filled by pharmacy technicians. Life-sustaining drugs went unprovided. The jail was consistently short of doctors and nurses while medical requests went unanswered and medical files were unavailable up to 50% of the time.
Prisoners reported broken arms that went unset. One prisoner was given a laxative to treat his diarrhea. A diabetic prisoner received no insulin for three days. It would have been longer except he was released from jail.
Another prisoner, incontinent due to colorectal surgery was forced to live in his own excrement for ten days because the jail would not provide him diapers. His mother was finally allowed to bring some into the jail. The doctor's response was, you can go call your mommy and tell her you've seen the doctor now.

Just as in Dallas, the problems in Fort Worth jails are not new.
Christi Ball's life had been full of promise. A degree in biology from Texas Wesleyan University promised possibilities far beyond the mild mental problems she began to experience in 1989. But with time her illness worsened and her life crumbled. That's how Ms. Ball eventually ended up one of ten deaths in Tarrant County jail in 2004. Sadly, Ball was in jail for trespassing on the grounds of JPS hospitalwhere she was trying to get helpwhere she was eventually pronounced dead. At the time JPS also ran the medical department in Tarrant County jail.

Ball visited the Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR) facility in Bedford, Texas on October 4, 2004 suffering from lightheadedness, irritability and mood swings. Doctors adjusted her medication but on October 7 Ball returned in worse condition.

On October 11 Ball announced her engagement to a 73-year-old man and informed her family that the two were living together in a retirement home. She charged $6,000 worth of wedding accoutrements and hundreds more for an armpit wax and eyebrow shaping. On October 12 MHMR again adjusted her medication.

Later that same day, feeling lightheaded, Ball went to Harris Methodist H.E.B. Disheveled and distraught, Ball became angry when a doctor said she was manic. On October 13 Ball visited Baylor Medical Center, at Grapevine but eventually refused treatment and left. Her elevated blood pressure and heart rate prompted a nurse to note hypermania" in her file.

On the evening of October 14, Ball went to Baylor Medical Center in Fort Worth. She again refused treatment but this time refused to leave.
I will kill you and the people inside this hospital," she told the policeman who approached her. He shot her with a Taser.

Early Friday October 15 Ball was sent to the 10th floor psychiatric unit at JPS. Ball became physically aggressive with hospital staff screaming, I am Jesus Christ Almighty and you will burn in hell. You don't know who you are detaining.

She was medicated by staff and placed in seclusion. But unexplainably, less than two hours later, she was released from seclusion and told to leave. She refused, stripped naked and was placed in seclusion again. But by 9:00 a.m. she was discharged again and given a ticket for trespassing.
Ball would be hospitalized, released and arrested several more times over the next few days for her increasingly erratic behavior caused by her mental illness.

On her final arrest, Ball was booked into the Tarrant County Jail. Silent and stoic, Ball signed no paperwork and answered no questions. Her only noted disruption that day was when she went to the dayroom naked to use the phone. Guards told her to get dressed.

NEVER!" she screamed.

On October 17 Ball's incoherent yelling prompted jail staff to request mental health assistance.

On October 18 frantic family members finally located Ball after filing a missing persons report. They tried to see her but were not allowed because Ball had not signed a signature card. Jailers assured the family that Ball was safe and receiving treatment.

The only reason we did not take her out is because we thought she would get the help she needed," says her mother.

On October 21 Ball was found dead, face-up on the floor of her cell, blood oozing from the corner of her mouth as the result of a seizure. She was 35 years old.

The Tarrant County jail also claimed the life of 46-year-old Christopher Waller. On August 15, 2005 Waller complained of breathing problems due to his asthma. Medical staff determined to send him to JPS for treatment. The guard who accompanied him said that Waller grew impatient while waiting and asked to return to the jail.

About 2:00 a.m. Wailer's breathing became labored again. He was taken back to JFS where he died at 3:43 a.m. on August 16 of undetermined causes.

Jails Decertified

Less dramatic but problematic are the conditions that make these jails dangerous. No less than 5 county jails in Texas have been decertified in 2005 for various reasons, the most common being overcrowding and staff shortages.

Houston's Harris County Jail came under fire when they refused to allow federal inspectors inside the jail. Advocacy Inc. is a watchdog agency commissioned by congress to ensure that state jails stay in compliance with federal standards for treating the mentally ill. When they showed up on Harris county jail's doorstep, on August 16, 2005, jail officials turned them away.

The visit was prompted when the agency received 32 complaints of substandard healthcare of mentally ill and disabled prisoners. On September 19, 2005 Advocacy Inc. filed a lawsuit requesting a preliminary injunction be issued by U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison. If granted, the group would gain unhindered access to the jail.
Concern stems from complaints that medication is not being issued promptly enough. Even after orders by a state district judge some prisoners have still waited six weeks for medication.
The lawsuit, which names both the county and Sheriff Tommy Thomas as defendants, claims the group was turned away because they did not have an access agreement" on file. Jail officials referred inspectors to the county attorney's office which stonewalled for two more weeks. On September 19 the suit was filed.
They can't put on a dog and pony show forever," said Beth Mitchell, senior attorney for the group. I wasn't going to wait around and allow inmates to be injured or deprived of adequate medical care because we can't get in.
Concerns also stem from extreme overcrowding due to staff shortages in the jail. For the second straight year Harris County has been decertified by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. (TCJS). Nearly 1,300 prisoners are sleeping on the floor even though much of the jail is unoccupied. Even guards fear potential violence from the present conditions.
Two separate studies have also revealed another reason for overcrowding in the jailHarris county judges. Justice Management Institute (JMI) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently conducted independent studies of the Houston facilities and both studies concluded that local judges were ignoring a provision provided to prevent overcrowding. The provision dictates that low-risk defendants, who pose no danger to the public, be granted free, or low-cost bonds.

Harris County maintains a Pretrial Services department specifically designed to identify low-risk offenders. The department was created as part of the Alberti decision," a 23-year-long lawsuit initiated in 1972, by prisoner Lawrence Alberti, for extreme overcrowding in the jail.
The ACLU study also notes that judges are exploiting a legal loophole that allows them to place felons in the county jail instead of sending them to treatment programs.
It's become more and more clear that it's actually the judges' sentencing practices that are causing overcrowding," said Ann del Llano of the ACLU.
While the Alberti suit ended in 1995 some fear that the jail may be ripe for a new legal battle.

It's deja vu all over again," said Gerald Birnberg, an attorney involved in the original Alberti suit.

Overcrowding also plagues the Hopkins County jail bringing a second failed inspection from the TCJS in less than a year. A September 13, 2005 inspection revealed that the jail had more prisoners than beds explained Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap. He went on to say that the Texoma, TX jail had exceeded 100 prisoners a total of six times in 2005.

This has caused us to fail getting the certificate this time.
The district attorney's office recommended building a new jail. Millsap said the county would likely put it to a vote. The county has also considered housing prisoners elsewhere long enough to get certified but Millsap says it's too expensive.

You figure $40 a day for 10 prisoners, that would be $400 a day...the sheriff does not have that kind of money set up in his budget.
Scrutiny of jail records shows over 30 people in the jail who have not been indicted by a grand jury but are currently unable to post bond. There are some problems here..." Millsap conceded.

Potter County jail was cited for overcrowding during their September 22, 2005 inspection by TCJS. Both male and female populations were too large noted TCJS inspector David Cisneros.

We knew we were going to be in noncompliance on a couple things," said Sheriff Nike Shumate. Our biggest problems is the state has no room...There's nowhere to put them.

State standards require one guard per 48 prisoners. Potter county fell short. Also written up were hygiene deficiencies stemming from torn mattresses which could not be properly disinfected before reuse.
Dirty mattresses are no surprise," said Shumate. We're not the only ones out of compliance.

Nueces County Jail is also overcrowded. October 2005 found police and court officials scurrying to bond out low-risk prisoners to make room for the upcoming holidays. The jail is presently at 90% capacity and arrests usually double during the holiday season.

Jail officials complained that 83 of the nearly 900 prisoners were awaiting pick-up by Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The prison suspended pickups temporarily because of the threat posed by Hurricane Rita. But Mike Viesca pointed out that TDCJ, which is allowed 45 days to collect new convicts, is averaging just over 20 days per pickup.
A more acute problem appears to be an abundance of prisoners who have been jailed anywhere from 30 to 90 days without being charged and without bond. Corpus Christi Police Officers Association has threatened Nueces County Sheriff Larry Olivarez with a lawsuit if he doesn't solve the problem soon. The union says intake problems are preventing police from properly doing their job.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has proposed a new department to relieve the overcrowding of San Antonio jails. Budget officer David Smith is under pressure from county commissioners to find a solution without exceeding a $625 million budget. Wolff says sweeping changes are needed in the entire justice system including the courts and the district attorney's office.
One immediate change will be the demise of the Justice Support and Human Services Department. Joe Castillo, who has worked for the county off and on for 25 years," says be plans to retire.

Tommy Hall was discovered missing from Miller County jail on Saturday October 8, 2005. Hall, a repeat drug offender, was last seen during count time on Friday night. His escape is particularly embarrassing since it occurred at a new, more secure facility.

He will be found," assured warden Picky Hunter. He will have to come back here.

Hall's escape is the second to occur at the new jail. Hunter indicated that updated security" was being installed.

As long as I am warden, I will do what I can to make sure people don't get out of here unless we release them for the right reasons.

Escape from jail is a serious thing. What does it say when an escaped prisoner is the least of problems troubling Texas jails?

There is no hope on the horizon that anything will change for the better in the near future. No lawsuits are currently challenging these conditions on a systemic basis and political leadership and will to address the problems caused by mass imprisonment on the cheap is totally absent at the state and local level. Texas jail prisoners are being left in misery for the foreseeable future.

Sources: Amarillo Globe-News, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Dallas Morning News, Dallas Observer, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Texarkana Gazette

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