The U.S. Department of Justice has found that conditions in Houston’s jail violate inmates' constitutional rights, reports the Houston Chronicle. A federal report found that the downtown lockup, which houses 11,000 people, has failed four of its last six state inspections and has come under scrutiny for poor medical care, overcrowding, and inmates' deaths.
“Indeed, the number of inmates' deaths related to inadequate medical care is alarming,” says the 24-page report addressed to County Judge Ed Emmett. “We have serious concerns about the use of force at the jail.” The Justice Department issued detailed recommendations for changes to policies and procedures at the jail. The report supports investigators' findings with stark descriptions of incidents in which inmates got sick, died, or were forcibly restrained by officers. Some became ill after medical staff ignored their pleas for attention. Others, suffering from mental breakdowns, waited days before getting aid.