Would it surprise you to know that Texas has a special place in the legal code for making sure county jails are safe for everybody?

It shouldn't, really. If a county jail is operating safely and by all standards set forth by the state, the jail staff as well as the inmates benefit most. You can find these codes under Texas Administrative Code, Title 37.

But what happens when a jail isn't following the codes as set forth above?

Trouble. Lots of trouble.

Texas Has a Commission for That

Seriously. There is a Texas Commission for Jail Standards. And they have something called Minimum Jail Standards. When there is a complaint filed with this commission that seems to have merit, then they investigate whatever jail the complaint names.

If the county jail is found to be in violation of any of the statutes set forth in the Administrative Code, Title 37 then they end up on a Non-Compliance list.

The commission will publish a report outlining the violation several days after issuing a warning to the county. Once the report is issued, the county will then be expected to correct whatever it is that's out of sorts.

What's the Most Common Violation?

Now, just by looking at the county jails currently not up to compliance, it seems that the most common issue is regular observation of inmates who are in isolation. Section 275.1 of the Administrative Code, Title 39 says:

275.1 - Every facility shall have the appropriate number of jailers at the facility 24 hours each day. Facilities shall have an established procedure for documented face-to-face observation of all inmates by jailers no less than once every 60 minutes. Observation shall be performed at least every 30 minutes in areas where inmates known to be assaultive, potentially suicidal, mentally ill, or who have demonstrated bizarre behavior are confined.

I saw examples where staff were up to an hour late on these intervals of observation. Yikes.

BIG TROUBLE IN THE BIG HOUSE: These 16 County Jails in Texas Are Not Up To Standard

The counties listed below have been found in non-compliance with Texas Minimum Jail Standards as codified in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 37, Part 9. They can be viewed in their entirety at State Commission on Jail Standards website.

Gallery Credit: Sarah Clark/TSM

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