Legislative Report for TTPRW February, 2024

The next Harris County Commissioners Court hearing is at 10 am on Tuesday, March 26 at the Harris County Administration Building at 1001 Preston, Suite 934, on the north side of downtown Houston. Please join Alexie Swirsky there to support our only Republican Harris County Commissioner, Tom Ramsey. If you would like to speak on an agenda item (see https://agenda.harriscountytx.gov/), sign up online the night before and be at the court by 9:30 am)

Alexie Swirsky spoke at the Harris County Commissioners Court hearing on January 30 about the urgent need for reform in the Harris County jail, which has not passed a state inspection for at least 8 years, as follows:

  “Families claim there have been nearly 70 deaths at the Harris County jail in the last three years. The Harris County jail is run like a jail in a Third World country.”

Why was Shirley Williams Houston, a 73 year-old with dementia, released from the jail out into the cold and dark at 4 am on January 11? Is there even a protocol for releasing mentally impaired people from the jail? It seems that releasing inmates who have low functioning mental abilities with no one in the family being informed is a common practice of the Harris County jail.
Often this means they instantly become homeless, without even a basic mental ability to take care of themselves.

Relatives of Shirley Williams Houston say they have no idea how she got from the jail downtown to Deussen Park, which is more than 20 miles away. Her body was found in the park, on January 18, 1 week after being released from the jail at 4 am. This was just a few weeks ago.

How long are there going to be studies of the jail instead of actions taken to drastically improve the safety of both the jailers and the inmates?

Please prioritize reforming the Harris County jail.”

Other issues to be questioned include the new Uplift program, giving $500 a month to qualified low income applicants in 9 zip codes, with no accountability for how the money is spent.

Commissioner Ramsey is also concerned about Harris County running daycares, which is not a legitimate county function.

The Texas legislature is not meeting until January, 2025 unless Governor Abbott calls a special session.


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