Harris County Regains Accreditation for Healthcare in Jail

Categories: Crime

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Are Harris County jails improving?
The Harris County Jail, recently praised for its care of mentally ill inmates, has been re-accredited for medical treatment by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, according to a release from the county. Inspectors found the downtown jail to be in compliance with 31 national standards for inmate healthcare.

The downtown jail houses a large number of mentally ill inmates as well as prisoners with medical issues including HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases and even pregnancy. The Mental Health and Medical Security Unit of the jail was given an award last year for the work of deputies securing care for inmates.

This is a positive turnaround for a jail that has been besieged with problems going back nearly ten years, including accusations of guards exchanging sex with inmates for favors, excessive force and other serious charges.

Just last month, Sheriff Adrian Garcia was called before a U.S. Department of Justice review panel to testify about problems in the jail system, particularly as related to sexually based offenses. A report in the Houston Chronicle found Harris County jails to have one of the worst rates of sexual assault in the nation.

Garcia defended the changes made in the jail over the past few years including the firing of a number of employees, but there is still good reason to be skeptical given their track record.

Still, the improvements in health care in the downtown jail are encouraging.



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3 comments
erinhellyeah
erinhellyeah

You get clean bedding and a change of clothes once a week, although if you're in court or on work detail when they come through, you are skipped.

Upon being released, I was shocked to discover that a was returning my foam mat to the EXACT same pile from which I had originally received it. They are not cleaned between uses, and new inmates are using the same dirty mats that those being released have been using for their entire stay.

I was placed in the same holding cell during the process of release as I was put in during the process of booking-in.

I recognized many girls from four days earlier, several of which had already been in holding two days prior to my arrival. That is nearly a week, with no shower, no soap, no toothbrush, no bed, no blanket, nothing but concrete and the bright fluorescent lights 24/7.

The cells are constructed entirely of concrete, with bench-type structures along two opposing walls. There were about 25 girls cramped into this cell, which appeared to only have enough space to reasonably accommodate maybe 15 at max. Many of these girls were lying on the floor (which I was informed hadn't been cleaned at all in the same period of time), using their baloney sandwiches as makeshift pillows. One of the girls on the floor had a broken and casted leg, and had been there there for nearly three days with no medicine, or bed, or practical way to elevate her leg. She was in a lot of pain, and was being denied more comfortable amenities because she, like every other girl who had been in holding for such extended periods, were waiting for medical treatment.

erinhellyeah
erinhellyeah

I'm highly skeptical of this accreditation.

I very recently spent 4 days in the Harris County jail, and it was filthy.

The housing units are only "cleaned" once a week. The process of cleaning was essentially two trustees that came in and sprayed the day room tables and the pay phones (one squirt for each) with some type of cleaner. It was then up to the inmates being housed in that particular unit to actually clean, and this was done using maxi pads for the most part (as far as my experience it's concerned), as paper towels were hard to come by. The showers, toilets, floors, and the pods containing the bunk beds were left completely untouched.

The women who came in to "clean" expressed concerns that our unit may have been one of several that were infected with lice or stagh, both of which were going around the jail.

If you were concerned about the cleanliness, you could choose to use some of your body wash, (the only cleaning agent you are supplied with)along with the aforementioned maxi pads, to do additional cleaning, although the bottles themselves were only about 3 to 4 oz bottles, and were all you were supplied with for your personal hygiene for the entire week.

You get clean bedding abs a change

erinhellyeah
erinhellyeah

You get clean bedding and a change of clothes once a week, although if you are in court or on work detail when they come through, you get skipped.

Upon being released, I was shocked to return my foam mat to the EXACT same pile from which I originally received it. They are not cleaned between uses, those coming in receive the same dirty mats that those who are being released have been using for their entire stay.

I was put in the same holding cell during the process of my release as I was put in during the process of booking in. There were many girls there who I'd seen 4 days earlier. Several of them had been in holding for a couple of days before I'd ever arrived, and they informed me that they never left holding for this entire stretch. That is nearly a week, with no soap, no shower, no toothbrush, no sleeping mat, no blanket, no lights turned down for sleeping, nothing.

These holding cells are entirely made of concrete, with bench like structures along two walls that are barely wide enough (for someone of my medium frame) to lie flat on, and even then you risk falling off if you doze off and turn even just slightly.

There were at this point about 25 girls cramped in what seemed to be a cell designed for maybe 25 at max, many of whom were stretched out on the floor (which I was informed hadn't been cleaned the entire time), using their baloney sandwiches as makeshift pillows. There was a girl with a broken and casted leg, she had been there for three days with no bed, no medicine, and no way to properly elevate her leg.

All of the women who had been in holding for this extended period were waiting for medical treatment.

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