Like many other places in the world, Texas has its prisons and jails where convicts are placed for a specific period of time depending on their offenses and the court’s decision. Jails in Texas are some of the old infrastructures that have been erected by the state. Since jails and prisons are quite old, it has been said that some sympathetic sheriffs would release prisoners because the roofs were leaking during rain.
Texas has its central prison and jail located in Huntsville, but counties under the State of Texas also have their own prisons and jails where criminals and convicts are detained. For grave offenses, they are transferred to Huntsville if the court decides to do so.
While in prison, convicts have rights granted by the authorities. Their welfare is taken into consideration and their rights are upheld. The state created the Prisoner’s Rights, wherein all the prisoners’ rights and obligations are stipulated. The Prisoners’ Rights Program operates to uplift the situations and conditions in Texas prisons and jails through litigation and advocacy. Before this program was created, prisoners would often talk to Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) about wrongful acts by authorities inside the prison. These wrongful acts would involve wrongful deaths, denial of medical care, violations of due process, as well as excessive force everyday. The prisoners’ rights program is especially designed to manage these kinds of cases and stories inside the jails. It works mainly on changing policies or creating a new system that will assist every prisoner inside the jail.
In most cases, when a prisoner wants to seek legal assistance from the Texas Civil Rights project, the prisoner must first try to resolve the problem through the grievance process, which requires him to submit grievances in compliance with the jail’s policies. Though most of the grievances go unresolved, the prisoner must still try to comply with the rules and regulations of Texas prisons and jails. After this act, the prisoner can now file and seek legal assistance from the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP).
Inmates under Texas Department of Criminal Justice are also required to file a grievance report following the TDCJ’s grievance rules. A report must be filed for each individual grievance, addressing only the issue the prisoner wishes to resolve. The prisoner must file the grievance no later than 15 days after the event occurs. It may be filed as soon after as possible.
For inmates in county jails, county policies must be taken into consideration because rules and regulations as to the filing of grievances vary from one county to another.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards inspects all county jails annually. If there are problems you wish to report to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, you are required to fill out a form found at http://www.tcjs.state.tx.us/complaint.php.
For inmates in the Texas Youth Commission, grievance forms can be secured from the grievance clerk in each dorm. All you have to do is request a form, fill it out and deposit it in a secure drop box inside the dorm. The Texas Youth Commission has 15 days to respond to your grievance. For parents or guardians and other groups centered on youth, grievances can be submitted to TYC’s incident reporting center.
If you are a prisoner and wish to seek guidance about the grievance process, including your rights and obligations, try reading The Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook. An online copy can be obtained at http://jailhouselaw.org/.