Tribpedia: State Commission On Jail Standards

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards is a state regulatory agency responsible for enforcing jail conditions at local jails in the state. It sets rules establishishing minimum standards for the construction and operation of jails and inspects them for compliance.

Created in 1975 by the Texas Legislature, the commission's authority has expanded over the years to include county, municipal ...

McCraw Hammered at Hearing on Bland Case

DPS Director Col. Steve McCraw answers questions from State Rep. Garnet Coleman during invited testimony of the House Committee on County Affairs investigating the Sandra Bland death in Waller County on July 30, 2015.
DPS Director Col. Steve McCraw answers questions from State Rep. Garnet Coleman during invited testimony of the House Committee on County Affairs investigating the Sandra Bland death in Waller County on July 30, 2015.

State lawmakers grilled Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw on Thursday, voicing concerns about arrest procedures used by state police and pressing the agency head to explain the July 10 arrest of Sandra Bland, who was found hanged three days later in the Waller County Jail.

Waller County Jail booking video showing Sandra Bland appearing before Justice of the Peace Delores Hargrave.
Waller County Jail booking video showing Sandra Bland appearing before Justice of the Peace Delores Hargrave.

Mental Health Jail Check Failed in Bland Case

The Waller County Jail failed to complete a two-part mental health screening process as required by law during Sandra Bland's booking process, according to the state jail commission and at least one public policy group.

In Texas Jails, Hanging Most Common Suicide Method

Texas county jails see 1 million bookings a year, and inmate deaths there are a rarity. But of the 501 inmate deaths that occurred in county jails since 2009, nearly a third — 140 — were suicides. And most of those suicides were by hanging, with inmates using objects available to them as ligatures: bed linens, clothing, telephone cords and trash bags.

 

Hempstead resident Adrienne Holland holds a sign outside of the Waller County Jail where Sandra Bland, 28, was found dead.
Hempstead resident Adrienne Holland holds a sign outside of the Waller County Jail where Sandra Bland, 28, was found dead.

Sandra Bland Case Shows Deficiencies in Jail Oversight

Like many Texas lockups, the Waller County Jail staff had not been sufficiently trained in safeguarding suicidal or mentally ill inmates. Part of the problem is underfunding and understaffing at the state agency overseeing the disparate network of 244 local and private jails.

Video: Program Unites Veterans Behind Bars

They served their country, then ended up on the wrong side of the law. Many of the more than 10,000 Texas veterans serving time behind bars say they attempted to erase the images of war through illegal drug use and got caught, sometimes more than once. A new Texas Department of Criminal Justice program is giving a group of veterans the resources and guidance to stay out of the legal system upon their release. 

 

E-cigarettes vaporize a liquid solution for inhalation. They have grown steadily in popularity since they were introduced in 2005.
E-cigarettes vaporize a liquid solution for inhalation. They have grown steadily in popularity since they were introduced in 2005.

Sheriffs Weigh Selling E-Cigarettes to Inmates

In Texas, very few jails allow electronic cigarettes, but some say that could change as sheriffs begin to warm up to the smokeless technology as a way to supplement revenue and help inmates suffering from withdrawal. Vendors of e-cigarettes, which vaporize a liquid solution for inhalation, see a big market in Texas jails, which have a combined capacity of about 95,000.

Spending on Detained Immigrants Fell in 2013

The cost of housing undocumented immigrants in Texas county jails dropped by more than $6 million in 2013, according to data from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The annual costs were about $77 million. Use this interactive to explore trends in detentions of undocumented immigrants in county jails statewide.

David Conis Jr. of Kemp, who has diabetes, is the subject of a battle over medical-care accountability at the Hendersonn County Jail.
David Conis Jr. of Kemp, who has diabetes, is the subject of a battle over medical-care accountability at the Hendersonn County Jail.

Sheriff and Judge in Battle Over Medical Care in Jail

An East Texas judge says he should be able to intervene when the jail isn't providing medical care he deems adequate. The county says the jail's health care services are exemplary, and the judge is overstepping the bounds of his authority. Inmates rights advocates say the concerns are not isolated and local jails need more oversight.

Interactive: Jailed Immigrants by the Numbers

A state law passed in 2011 requires Texas jails to report monthly estimates of the cost to house undocumented immigrants. This interactive table shows the total number of immigrants housed and the cost to each county from October 2011 to September 2013.

At a Texas Civil Rights Project press conference, Shirley Appell, center, the mother of Shawn Appell, argues that jailers in Llano County are responsible for her son's death. She is seeking civil damages.
At a Texas Civil Rights Project press conference, Shirley Appell, center, the mother of Shawn Appell, argues that jailers in Llano County are responsible for her son's death. She is seeking civil damages.

Llano County Jail Death Prompts Lawsuit

A woman is suing the Llano County Jail for the wrongful death of her son, who she says beat his head against a wall while the jail administrators stood by. The case highlights the ongoing struggle of county jails throughout Texas to provide mental health services for inmates.

Harris County Stops Late Jail Releases

The Harris County Jail only discharges inmates during daylight hours after their sentences are completed. Other county jails, however, don’t have these policies in place and don’t plan to create them. But an inmate advocacy program touts the approach, citing instances in which former inmates were killed, sexually abused or threatened after late jail releases.

Texas Officials Seeking Room for Mentally Ill Inmates

A judge's expected ruling forcing the state to find room to treat mentally ill inmates is sending officials in search of space at already-full mental hospitals. The order will require the state to transfer mentally incompetent patients out of local jails and into treatment within 21 days. Now, the wait for inmates is about six months.

53-year-old Acy Williams checks that he has all of his belongings shortly after being released from the Harris County Jail on Thursday, August 11, 2011. Williams, who often sleeps on the Houston streets, wandered around the blocks surrounding the jail waiting for his girlfriend to be released.
53-year-old Acy Williams checks that he has all of his belongings shortly after being released from the Harris County Jail on Thursday, August 11, 2011. Williams, who often sleeps on the Houston streets, wandered around the blocks surrounding the jail waiting for his girlfriend to be released.

Despite Risks, County Lockups Continue Late Releases

County jail inmates are often released in the dark of night — sometimes miles from town — with little or no money and no transportation. Despite the tragic stories of death and assault, state lawmakers this year failed to approve legislation requiring releases in daytime. Many sheriffs contend that the problem needs a local fix, not one mandated by lawmakers.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 8/1/11

Aguilar on the denial of asylum petitions by border judges, Galbraith on the history of wind, Grissom talks to the head of the Jail Standards Commission, Hamilton on plans for the state's new online university, Murphy and Ramsey on political warchests at midyear, Philpott on Texas' trucker shortage, Ramsey talks data privacy and abortion with Susan Combs, Ramshaw on the Rick Perry's experimental adult stem cell procedure, Root on the response to The Response, M. Smith on the country's could-be next first lady and Tan on a few of the ways Texas will change on Sept. 1: The best of our best content from Aug. 1 to 5, 2011.

Adan Muñoz: The TT Interview

He thinks running a jail is a thankless job, and he should know: He has been the director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards since 2006, and before that he was Kleberg County Sheriff. He talked with The Texas Tribune this week about the agency's budget cuts, jail overcrowding and eroding facilities. 

Detention officer watches over inmates from a control room inside the Harris County Jail.
Detention officer watches over inmates from a control room inside the Harris County Jail.

In Texas, Jailbreaks Aren't Like the Movies. Usually.

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It's a favorite plot device on television and in movies, but jailbreaks are pretty rare, and at county lockups in Texas successful escapes are even rarer. But that doesn't stop inmates from trying. And trying. 

Senate Panel Mulls Jailer Turnover Measure

State jail officials would get a clearer picture of potential problems in county lockups under a bill a state Senate panel considered on Tuesday that would require counties to report the monthly turnover rate among jailers.

Left to right: Officer Mario Martinez, Sergeant R. Richman and officer L. Lyons on duty.
Left to right: Officer Mario Martinez, Sergeant R. Richman and officer L. Lyons on duty.

Plan to Merge Agencies Worries Texas Safety Officials

A money-saving proposal to combine state agencies that oversee police and firefighter training and local jail operations has public safety officials statewide worried about their future.