Saturday, June 6, 2009

Harris County Jail draws ire of the feds

So it's not enough that the Harris County Jail has failed four of the last six inspections conducted by the Texas State Commission on Jail Standards, now the Harris County Jail has drawn the ire of the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the feds, poor health care standards and life-threatening conditions at the jail are violations of the inmates' constitutional rights.
“The (DOJ) found that the jail fails to provide detainees with adequate: (1) medical care; (2) mental health care; (3) protection from serious physical harm and (4) protection from life safety hazards.” -- Justice Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar
Now before we get our panties in a wad about "coddling criminals," let's not forget that every person brought before the court accused of a criminal act is innocent unless proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. As a result of Harris County's refusal to adopt personal bonds on minor criminal offenses and the county's reliance on its bond schedule, there are folks in the Harris County Jail who are, in the eyes of the law, wholly innocent yet having to endure potential life-threatening conditions while awaiting their day in court.

The solution is not, as Sheriff Adrian Garcia would lead us to believe, building new jail facilities. The solution is to release minor offenders on personal bonds with a promise to appear in court and to find a way to treat drug addicts without locking them up in the jail.

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