Houston Matters

City Jail Standards Leave Loopholes

A year ago last April, a 26-year-old welder named Chad Silvis was at his wits’ end. His job, his life – they weren’t working out. He was sitting on the railing of a bridge connecting Kemah to Seabrook, Texas when police found him, and took him to the Kemah City jail. They charged him with […]


A year ago last April, a 26-year-old welder named Chad Silvis was at his wits' end. His job, his life – they weren't working out. He was sitting on the railing of a bridge connecting Kemah to Seabrook, Texas when police found him, and took him to the Kemah City jail. They charged him with public intoxication, and held him, in part out of concern he might hurt himself.

Which is what he did – he apparently hung himself in the jail cell.

Silvis's father is suing the city of Kemah; he argues the department didn't properly train its officers – that they should have recognized he was suicidal, and taken him to a hospital, not to jail.

City and municipal jails set their own policies and training to address these situations, but there aren't uniform regulations or standards. And the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, which has oversight of county jails, has no such authority for cities and other municipalities.

Meanwhile, dozens of people have died in custody in city and municipal jails across Texas, many by suicide, including an 18 year old girl in the Brazoria jail this spring.

We’ll discuss what might be done about oversight-or lack thereof-in municipal jails in Texas.

 

Share