We all experience peaks and valleys in our lives. Great accomplishments, health scares, personal milestones, economic woes; some years you're up, others you're down. But you'd be hard-pressed to find many Houstonians who have been on a roller coaster ride to match J.R. Richard, a mainstay in the Houston Astros rotation throughout the 1970s, and one of the dominant pitchers of his era, who saw it all vanish when he suffered a stroke at the age of 30.
The descent was sharp – filled with aborted comeback attempts, continued health challenges, divorce, depression, economic woes – and, for a time, homelessness. But Richard's story is also one of redemption. Faith and a new love helped him turn his life around. He talks about this rise, fall, and rise again in his new memoir, Still Throwing Heat: Strikeouts, the Streets, and a Second Chance.
We talk with Richard about his journey in the latest installment of our summer reading series, on today’s Houston Matters.
Also this hour: The Texas Commission on Jail Standards has oversight of county jails in Texas – it sets standards on how the jails are run, who’s on staff, how inmates are treated, how the jail itself is constructed. But those same standards do not apply to city jails, for which the commission has no oversight. Some would like to change that, in light of a number of suicides that have taken place in them in recent years.
We talk with the Houston Chronicle’s St. John Barned-Smith, who reported this month on this call, and on incidents of suicide in city jails in recent years. We also talk with Adan Muñoz, the former (now retired) director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
Also: About a year ago, Human Rights First set up an office in Houston at the South Texas College of Law. The non-profit connects asylum seekers with attorneys who specialize in immigration cases and are willing to offer their services pro bono. Edel Howlin checks in to see what the Houston office has accomplished in its first year.
Plus: We talk with Danny Perez from the Texas Department of Transportation about efforts to reduce littering on Houston’s highways. And we present another edition of Laura Isensee’s series, Inside the Classroom.