Tribpedia: State Commission On Jail Standards

Tribpedia

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 ...

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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. 

 

While traditional cigarettes are banned from most jails, vendors of e-cigarettes, which vaporize a liquid solution for inhalation, see a big market in Texas.
While traditional cigarettes are banned from most jails, vendors of e-cigarettes, which vaporize a liquid solution for inhalation, see a big market in Texas.

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.

Inspectors testing the emergency ventilation of the unit for fire code compliance tests at Dallas County Jail.
Inspectors testing the emergency ventilation of the unit for fire code compliance tests at Dallas County Jail.

Plan Would Make Texas Jails Pay for Inspections

Despite its relatively miniscule portion of the state’s $182 billion budget, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards is not exempt from the budget knife. Lawmakers are considering a 30 percent cut from the commission’s budget, a move that could mean the end of jail inspections. To keep them going, lawmakers are proposing that the counties pay for them.

Amy Lynn Cowling's mother, Vicki Bankhead, talks about the death of her daughter in the office of the family's attorney, Jarom Tefteller.
Amy Lynn Cowling's mother, Vicki Bankhead, talks about the death of her daughter in the office of the family's attorney, Jarom Tefteller.

Woman's Death One of Many in Troubled Texas Jail

Amy Lynn Cowling was 33, she had three children and she became a grandmother a day after she died in an East Texas jail. Her death is just the most recent at the Gregg County Jail in Longview. Interviews and public documents reveal a troubled facility, where the staff turnover rate is unusually high and inmates report shoddy medical care. Criminal justice advocates say the facility is representative of problems that plague local jails statewide.

A TT Interview With Prisons Expert Michele Deitch

The jail conditions expert and professor at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs on why maintaining treatment programs that keep offenders in their communities and reducing some of the harsh, long-term jail sentences often doled out in Texas' notoriously tough criminal justice system could be more cost-efficient and allow Texas to close prisons.