City jails across Texas have been criticized for years for falling short in areas of basic requirements and functionality. Issues like lack of quality food, medical care, lack of showering facilities, and at least one report of leaving detainees alone in the jail with a cell phone in case of emergency have all made the headlines.
The issue with these municipal lockups is they aren’t regulated—a problem not likely to change anytime soon.
According to the American-Statesman, because these lock ups aren’t regulated, there isn’t even an exact count on them, though it’s believed there are around 378 in the state. There are 44 in Harris County alone. These lockups vary widely in location, capacities, and sophistication.
Some are made up of a single holding cell while others are quite large. Two ran by the Houston Police Department averaged about 400 prisoners each day last year, averaging a stay of 23 hours. Some facilities are so rudimentary they are little more than a bench with cuffs.
While most have rules and regulations in regards to operations and safety, many do not. And because there’s no regulatory body for these municipal facilities, they haven’t felt compelled to create such rules.
The state department of corrections controls the prisons and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards regulates county jails. But, when it comes to these city lock-ups, there is no regulation at all.
Some are advocating for a regulatory body but the bottom-line is it would be an expensive venture and one not easily sold to lawmakers given the current economic climate. Instead, “civil rights lawsuits and criminal investigations will have to suffice”, a harsh but true statement.
Most people will never see the inside of these facilities, though some reading this blog post likely already have. They are often used to hold arrestees before they see a judge. The time spent here is typically less than a day, which is good considering the conditions.
When you are arrested you are either taken to a holding facility like this or a county jail. It largely depends on where you are arrested and who it is that takes you in to custody. Regardless, you have the right to speak with an attorney before you answer any questions, whether those questions are coming from the city police department of sheriff’s deputies.
If you’re facing charges and not sure what’s going to happen, a consultation with a defense attorney in Texas can put your mind at ease. Contact our offices today for some free legal advice about your case.