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Texas Prison and Jail Specific Discussions + Lock Down Status All discussions relating to specific Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison units, Texas State Jails & Private prisons, and County Jails.

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Old 01-28-2006, 06:04 AM
Truth Seeker Truth Seeker is offline
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Default A Letter from Prison: Diane Wilson Reports from Texas County Jail


Diane Wilson, author of "An Unreasonable Woman," is almost two months into a 150-day sentence in a Texas jail for a misdemeanor trespassing charge.

The conditions in the Victoria County jail are deplorable, according to Wilson, a dedicated activist exposing injustice wherever she goes. Now Wilson is breaking through the walls of fear that prevent so many inmates from speaking forthrightly to the administrators of the penal system. She has written a public letter, addressed to Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor, describing abusive conditions within the jail, violations of basic inmates rights, horrifying reports of the withholding of medical treatment from ill women who were jailed on non-violent charges, and the lack of a functioning avenue for inmates to address these problems within the system.

"I am a female inmate in the Victoria County Jail, TX, though I was arrested on criminal trespass charges in Calhoun County. I was given a sentence of 150 days plus a $2,000 fine for protesting Dow Chemical Company's refusal to appear in Indian courts in response to charges against its wholly-owned subsidiary, Union Carbide, and its treatment of the survivors of the toxic-leak disaster in Bhopal, India, where a catastrophic pesticide release has killed over 20,000 people to date.

I am a fairly new inmate and have only been here since December 10, 2005, yet I have a number of grievances. Many of these come from other inmates and you may ask why they don't report them themselves. Well, it's pretty simple: there is absolutely no effective avenue to raise issues and if there is, the inmates have certainly not been made aware of it. There is a standard form that inmates can use to make an attempt at communication, but the response can take anywhere between a week to never.

There is no information available, no pamphlet explaining the procedures or the rights of the inmates or even something as simple as "when is commissary."

I asked to see the law library since the inmates rarely see legal counsel, but was told that there is not one available. If inmates ask for legal counsel they are told, "You'll see one when your trial comes up," and usually that's ten minutes before one goes to trial.

The women in this jail are predominantly African American or Hispanic and very poor. Most of their offenses are minor, for things like traffic tickets or soliciting or violating probation - all non-violent, yet they are forced to remain in the cell without counsel for long periods of time. I don't think I am bringing up any issue that you are not aware of. I spoke with someone within the jail system (I will not name him), and he is aware of the length of time inmates have to wait for legal counsel and a trial. He has talked to a judge about the problem and the judge apparently said something along the lines of, "Yes, we got a problem."

So you can understand my concern to at least have access to a law library. Though jail personnel told me that the only time access to a law library is provided is when legal counsel isn't available, I have still not had access to either.

When I requested, nonetheless, access to the law library on my title form, a week later I got the answer, "We do not have a WRIT ROOM." Well, that certainly explains everything. No WRIT ROOM. No Law Library.

Next, I asked for the jail's standards. These are the minimum standards that jails have to maintain, and inmates have the legal right to request and receive a copy of the standards. When I made my request I got a response a good week and a half later asking, "what's your concern?"

My concern is that inmates have no voice, no access to legal counsel, no law library, no WRIT Room, no jail standards. ...."
Read on: http://www.truthout.org/issues_06/pr...012706WA.shtml
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Old 01-28-2006, 12:30 PM
jojacks jojacks is offline
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Good for her!!!
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