Houston Matters

Investigative Series Looks at Conditions and Treatment Inside the Harris County Jail

Throughout 2015, Houston Chronicle reporters have reviewed more than a thousand disciplinary reports at the Harris County Jail and found guards used excessive force or abused their authority more than 120 times. While in about half of the cases where jail staff were disciplined (ranging from 2010 to the spring of 2015) they’ve rarely been fired […]

Throughout 2015, Houston Chronicle reporters have reviewed more than a thousand disciplinary reports at the Harris County Jail and found guards used excessive force or abused their authority more than 120 times. While in about half of the cases where jail staff were disciplined (ranging from 2010 to the spring of 2015) they’ve rarely been fired or brought up on criminal charges. Concerns center not just on cases of inmates being brutalized, but also on inmates’ health being threatened, in some cases leading to what some believe may have been preventable health crises — or even deaths.

To learn more, we talk with Houston Chronicle reporters James Pinkerton and Anita Hassan about what he and his colleagues have learned in reporting over the last year about conditions and treatment at the Harris County Jail — from the challenges jail staff face addressing some inmates’ mental health conditions, to instances of substandard medical care, to concerns about inadequate training and staffing levels. We also consider what has and has not been accomplished under the administrations of three Harris County Sheriffs over the last decade.

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