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Case Name U.S. CRIPA Investigation of Harris County (TX) jail JC-TX-0026
Docket / Court docket unknown ( No Court )
Additional Docket(s)   No Court
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On March 7, 2008, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“DOJ”) notified a Harris County Judge of DOJ’s intention to investigate the conditions at the Harris County Jail (“Jail”). The Jail includes four major jail facilities and had a design capacity of approximately 9800 ... read more >
On March 7, 2008, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“DOJ”) notified a Harris County Judge of DOJ’s intention to investigate the conditions at the Harris County Jail (“Jail”). The Jail includes four major jail facilities and had a design capacity of approximately 9800 detainees. At the time of the investigation, the Jail housed over 9400 detainees. The investigation was undertaken under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (“CRIPA”).

DOJ lawyers and expert consultants reviewed records, interviewed staff and detainees, and inspected the facility living conditions. After two on-site inspections in July and August of 2008, the DOJ issued a Findings Letter to a Harris County Judge on June 4, 2009.

The Findings Letter stated that certain conditions at the jail violated the constitutional rights of detainees. Specifically, DOJ found that the Jail fails to provide detainees with adequate: (1) medical care; (2) mental health care; (3) protection from serious physical harm; and (4) protection from life safety hazards. The Letter also included proposed remedial measures and expressed DOJ’s preference for working cooperatively with the Jail to resolve the deficiencies.

The parties are reportedly still in settlement negotiations, but an investigation conducted by the Houston Chronicle found that many of the problems identified in the June 2009 Letter still existed. According to that November 2015 investigation, 75 people had died in the time since the DOJ’s 2009 Letter, 19 of which died from medical issues that were “either treatable or preventable, or in which delays in care, or staff misconduct, could have played a role in their deaths.”

The case remains open.

Chris Pollack - 02/22/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Excessive force
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Harris County Jail
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2009
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Investigation of the Harris County Jail
JC-TX-0026-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/04/2009
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
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Plaintiff's Lawyers King, Loretta (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-TX-0026-0001

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