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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Jail is bad, but it's WORSE in a small Texas county jail!

For those who don't know, and that might be almost everyone reading, I have been a county jailer in the past. I worked for a pretty large county, but I was still a county jailer in Texas. Well, someone close to me is currently serving in a small(ish) county jail. He is, for the most part, in "good spirits" (or as good as can be expected in this situation. He is currently awaiting transfer to a state run rehab facility, but it seems that the transfer will not come. He is a trustee, so that at least lets him out of the cell to work, and plenty of people write letters to him, and visit when possible. However, a few things have come to light in recent weeks that make me wonder if I might have a case to sue this county on his behalf because.

Situation one - while working as a kitchen trustee, his job was to spray off the trays before being loaded up to go back to the contractor to be washed, and used again. While using high power water to do this, he attempted to shield his eyes with his hair net to avoid getting food in them, but had the CONTRACTOR (not an officer) YELL at him that "he does not have the right to eye protection", while also berating him and using plenty of "colorful adjectives" to describe his current situation.

Situation two - After surrendering to the county to await transfer, he knew he would need to meet with a probations officer first to coordinate what will happen after his time with the state. After nearly a month, this had not happened, so a call was made, and finally he was scheduled. The officer, a female, conducted the interview in a closed office, with no one but herself and the inmate present, and no audio and/or video recorder. Having supervised females, I know that this is a HUGE no-no. All she has to do is say he did something "inappropriate" and he is charged with more offenses, and has no real defense. Conversely, if the inmate were to charge that she told him that he must "do something for her" to avoid negative "things" while under her supervision, she could lose her job, or worse!

Situation three - Last week (June 17th), while I was visiting him, he was noticably ill, and told me that he was having chest pain, a bad cough (and I could hear liquid in his lungs), a bad headache, I could tell he was at least mildly feverish from his skin tone, and he said he wasn't eating as most of the foods made him feel sick. He told the officer at the pod, who called the infermery. The person there proceeded to ask questions of the guard, who asked the inmate, who would answer, the guard would then relay back the "nurse". After this exchange, it was "determined" not to be a "medical emergency" (despite chest pain, difficulty breathing, fluid in his lungs, and refusing meals), so he could not even be allowed to see the medical staff. After a phone call from his family, they did bring him some Tylenol and Benedryl. I don't really know what happened after that, but I also visited him today, and he did have a better color to his skin, so he is eating. He told me that he was able to finally cough up stuff, so he is finally expelling the foreign crud, and he told me his head ache and chest pains are all but gone. The question though, is who has the final say as to who is "really sick" and sees the med staff, and who is just "being a baby" and has to tough it out? I've worked in a jail, and I was told POINT BLANK to call the nurse (RN not LVN, not CNA, she is an RN) to come talk to the inmate FACE TO FACE to then tell the MD what she thought, and if the MD thought it was bad, either the inmate was moved to sick bay or the hospital, or the MD came out to see him.

The last issue I have is a lesser one, but still rubs me the wrong way. After being booked in, all inmates have all property not approved for possession in general population placed in storage. Normally they are allowed to keep medical needs (glasses, dentures, ect...), under garments, religious supplies (Bible, ect...), but all other stuff is either sold via comissary, or provided by the jail (razor, tooth brush, soap, ect...). It seems that this county has chosen to mandate that ALL undergarments must be ALL WHITE, not even the little red thread on socks is allowed! Families are not allowed to bring clothing to the inmate, so if they are not wearing "county approved underwear" when they are booked it, IT IS TAKEN FROM THEM and they are made to PURCHASE underwear from comissary at over FIVE DOLLARS A PAIR! Could this be extortion?

Well, as I said above, the inmate in question is someone close to me, so naturally, I am a bit angrier than most, but still, everything about this just seems a bit wrong, what do YOU think?

Cross posted at Smoke Signals Blog

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