Texas Needs Prison Reform Now

Texas Needs Prison Reform NowThe topic of extradition can be a complex one. There was one particular case last year that brought into question the truly harsh conditions in Texas jails. A Scottish judge refused the extradition of a Scottish man who had allegedly shot a security guard in 2016 in Austin. While the denial of an extradition is not out of the ordinary, the reason behind this denial is. The judge cited that if the person was to be extradited, it could cause an international human rights violation due to the poor conditions found in Texas jails.

The case in question cannot be cited in other extradition cases, as the judge did not write a formal legal opinion. While it cannot be legally considered, it should be morally considered. Other countries have apparently been privy to and appalled by how prisoners are treated here as opposed to how they would be treated at home. There have been other cases where extradition has been denied, not due to their alleged crime, but due to the conditions they would face upon arriving in the states.

You must keep in mind that the entire prison system is not being put under fire, but certain circumstances are in this case. There have to be extenuating circumstances, such as death row and others that can have extradition denied. In the Scottish case, the judge was concerned with a few things in Central Texas jails, such as:

  • Understaffing
  • Solitary confinement and how often it is used
  • Lack of independent oversight
  • Forced unpaid labor
  • Sweltering temperatures
  • Inadequate food

It seems that other countries do not deem our prison system adequate or livable. This should raise the question in everyone’s minds as to why.

Issues with buildings in the Texas prison system

While we cannot speak for the rest of the country or the world, we are aware of the issues that are found in Central Texas prisons. Some of the worst issues involve the buildings themselves. One concern, often shocking to others, is that our prisons are not air conditioned. This means that the jail can be well over 100 degrees at any given moment. The only areas that do have some form of air conditioning are the psychiatric units and the hospitals.

Most prisons do not have fire alarms or even functioning locks in place. Meals are almost inedible. Meals come in bags that often have mold. This puts prisoners in a situation of either eating this clearly bad food or starving,

Prisons do not fare much better in the cold as was proven during an unprecedented snowstorm. Showers stopped working, there were no heaters and there were insufficient blankets for everyone. Phone lines were down and when heat did work, it did not get to all of the cells. They even lost water to flush toilets.

Cruel and unusual punishment in Texas prisons

While the building is one concern, there are also concerns with treatment of the prisoners. In America, when you work you are compensated. This is true even in the jail system. Think again, however, because the jails in the state do not compensate inmates for their work. Rape is an issue that every inmate must also contend with.

When it comes to social interactions, inmates are allowed to receive emails from family. They cannot respond and there is a charge for each email sent. Care packages can be sent to inmates with an additional cost. This is also true during the holiday season.

There is one television per every 60 inmates to use in the day room and nowhere else. Prisoners cannot watch anything they want as there is no cable and the guards are in control of the remote.

While staff may be inflicting some of this pain, they are being treated poorly as well. There is a serious staffing problem. It can be difficult to retain staff when they are threatened with being fired if they do not work a 16-hour shift. Even after a 16-hour shift, they might be asked to stay longer due to shortages. If they refuse they are written up or threatened with being fired. Inmates were also unable to get their medications on time citing staff shortages.

While this is an unfortunate topic to discuss, this is not new all across the state. What many would consider to be cruel conditions is what many of our prisons look like on a daily basis. The most shocking aspect is that nothing is being done to remedy these issues. They would rather inmates suffer than try to create livable conditions.

Our Texas criminal defense attorney can make all the difference

When you are facing criminal charges in Central Texas, your choice in attorney can change the course of your life. There are many inmates imprisoned on low-level offenses and have to endure this type of unusual punishment. Not only that, but many inmates will die as a result of their suffering. You would never imagine that a traffic stop may lead to enduring such terrible conditions.

You cannot hire just any Killeen criminal defense attorney when your life’s on the line. You need someone who will truly fight to keep you out of prison. Mary Beth Harrell is a former prosecutor who understands both sides of any case and can determine the best plan of attack. She knows how to negotiate, from reduced charges to a case dismissal.

We have an experienced team of lawyers and other professionals standing by to help you through this difficult time. We will fight for your future. We have offices in Killeen and Copperas Cove for your convenience. Contact the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm at 254-680-4655 or complete our contact form to discuss your circumstances and the best legal route to take.