A watchdog agency asked a federal judge in Houston yesterday to allow surprise inspections of the crowded Harris County Jail in the city because of concerns that prisoners are not receiving adequate mental health care, reports the Houston Chronicle. Advocacy Inc., authorized by Congress to enforce federal laws ensuring proper care for the disabled in Texas, sought access to the jail in August after receiving 32 complaints of improper mental health care for disabled prisoners in nine months.
Advocacy officials also are concerned about severe crowding in the jail, said the group’s Beth Mitchell. “If there is overcrowding in the jail, the likelihood that staff can provide adequate care diminishes,” she said. “It does seem like people are going without adequate mental health care and it seems like that might be due to overcrowding.” In one case, jail staffers are accused of waiting six weeks to administer medication, even after being ordered to do so by a judge.