Last week "Grits For Breakfast" published the report from the state's prison consultants, The Moss Group, on what implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) would have meant for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. According to their report, it appears some of the claims Governor Perry made when he stated PREA implementation untenable were exaggerated, begging the question, "Why didn't Texas implement the recommendations?"
Also, tomorrow the Texas House holds a committee hearing on the incidence of mental illness among prisoners in Texas, potentially bringing to the fore a stark trend showing many inmates in jails and both state and federal prisons are dealing with mental illness. A 2007 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that more than a million inmates had serious mental illness. What is Texas doing about it?
Finally, as the summer months approach the annual questions surrounding air conditioning our state prisons arise. 14 people have died as a result of heat in Texas state prisons since 2007 and the state is currently being sued by several of the dead's family members. Some state legislators have called for the state to modernize their facilities to include air conditioning, but nothing has been done about it. The state caused quite a stir when it spent $750,000 last year on a new climate-control system for the pigs at Huntsville Prison while leaving the prisoners without.
- Michele Deitch, Senior Lecturer at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin.
- Lance Lowry, correctional officer and the president of the Huntsville-based local of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.