Grassroots Leadership Blog
Recently, in a Montgomery County Jail, David Courtney died while under the care of the private medical corporation Correct Care Recovery Solutions. Correct Care was formerly known as GEO Care, an offshoot and former subsidiary of the for-profit private prison company GEO Group. Interestingly, this is the same company that was tentatively awarded a contract to operate Terrell State Hospital (TSH) last October.
Following the death of David Courtney in December, the Texas County Commission on Jail Standards ruled that the Montgomery County facility was out of compliance. Courtney had been complaining about his health since September but was not seen by a doctor until October 31. Although Courtney was found to have died of natural causes due to complications with AIDS, the Texas County Commission on Jail Standards determined that the facility failed to administer care in a timely manner. Since then, the facility has moved to increase staffing by hiring six additional nurses and extending the doctor’s weekly hours in order to address “a personnel shortage.” In addition, officials will be monitoring medical grievances weekly and making attempts to improve the facilities current record keeping protocols. Currently, Correct Care is facing scrutiny and litigation in two other death cases; one in a Kansas facility and another in Colorado.Read more »
We should all be ashamed of a justice system that punishes people who are trying to do the right thing. In the case of Nan-Hui Jo, doing the right thing meant fleeing the United States with her infant daughter, Vitz Da, to escape the physical and emotional abuse of the child’s father. Upon her escape, her ex-partner filed child abduction charges, for which Nan-Hui was tried twice. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have continued to leverage their institutional power to maintain an immigration hold and pursue deportation, which would permanently separate Nan-Hui from her daughter.
Despite evidence of abuse and her status as a survivor and a pending U Visa application on file, Yolo County (CA) District Attorneys have advanced racist, anti-immigrant, and sexist tropes to paint Nan-Hui as an abuser, leading to what has been a seven-month separation of mother and child. If she is deported, this separation will become permanent.Read more »
By guest blogger Marlon Saucedo, who recently joined our Austin staff as an intern and will be blogging at Texas Prison Bid'ness.
A crowd of over 300 people rallied on February 11 in front of the Capitol to advocate in support for immigration reform aimed towards the benefit of the immigrant community.
“It is important for you all to educate yourselves on the economy so that you know how many dollars our children are paying in college. $42 million is how much we and our families contribute to our colleges,” said Ramon Romero Jr., one of several state representatives who spoke during the event.
Much of the rally was specifically in opposition to legislative action that would repeal House Bill 1403 and Senate Bill 1528, which grant in-state tuition and a claim to residency for higher education to immigrant students, respectively.Read more »
In the past four months, District Judge Michael Seiler of Montgomery County has been recused from hearing eight civil commitment cases due to allegations of bias. These eight cases accounted for half of the sixteen petitions in total made by defense attorneys to have him removed from proceedings. Read more »
We are disappointed to learn that Denton is the newest Texas county to eliminate face-to-face visitation between those incarcerated at the county jail and their loved ones. Like Travis and Bastrop counties, Denton County is now forcing "visitors" to use a video visitation system provided by Dallas-based Securus Technologies which charges users up to $20 for 20 minute "visits." Consistent with reports from other counties, the system in Denton is sub-par. "It was very choppy and pixelated, and at times where it would cut off completely and say it's trying to reconnect us," said one user. Shame on Securus and Denton County for extorting those who are committed to mainting face-to-face ties with their loved ones by forcing them to pay for a system that doesn't work. If you're as angry as we are, we invite you to join us for a protest at Denton County Jail next Thursday, February 26th and to sign and share this petition to Denton County Commissioners demanding that they find a way to restore in-person visitation.
Just as we were about to pull our hair out learning of the news from Denton, our partners at the Prison Policy Initiative released this series of hilarious videos that shine a spotlight on the very complaints that we hear from those who have been forced to use video visitation services. We applaud and give thanks to those who can use humor to shed light on these disgraceful practices and feel hopeful that messages like the ones below are the keys to making the ills of video visitation something everyone can relate to.
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Grassroots Leadership is ecstatic to welcome Lauren Johnson to our team! Lauren is our very first Criminal Justice Advocacy and Mobilization Fellow, a new initiative to create leadership experiences during the Texas legislative session for individuals who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Lauren will be supporting the Criminal Justice team with our Texas Prison Closures and Video Visitation campaigns.
Lauren Johnson is a native Austinite and currently serves as a board member with Conspire Theatre. Conspire does theater and creative writing with women who have been impacted by incarceration. Lauren studied business communications with the University of Phoenix and is an active member of the X-Offenders Council, as well as the Travis County Reentry Planning Council. She is committed to being a voice for the people who don't know that they have one.
Lauren can be reached at LJohnson@GrassrootsLeadership.orgRead more »