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Useful Websites

Texas Commission on Jail Standards

Texas Commission on Jail Standards – You can send in your complaint by filling out the online form, writing a letter, or faxing a short description. They prefer that you write them or post a complaint online before calling their office. Click here> Online Complaints.

The Jail Commission is designed to regulate jails by inspecting them to see if they are meeting “the minimum standards.” They do not address your complaints about criminal matters like rape or assault. They will tell you to report that to the Texas Rangers (see our list) or the FBI. However, we recommend that you still report rapes and assaults to the Jail Commission, because they will become much more watchful of that jail after hearing of such crimes.

If your complaint is an urgent emergency,  such as a lack of critical medication, call: 512 463-5505 and ask for the complaints inspector. 

For all other complaints, it is better to email or write first. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards is charged with investigating your complaint and then reporting back to you.

Att: Director Brandon Wood
P.O. Box 12985
Austin, TX 78711-2985
FAX: 512-463-3185

Please copy the text of your complaint and keep a copy, and also email that complaint to Texas Jail Project. Also, please let us know if you don’t get a response to your complaint!

VINELink (vinelink.com): the online version of VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday). You can obtain timely and reliable information about criminal cases and the custody status of offenders 24 hours a day. 

Texas Civil Rights Project: Self-Help Resources

1405 Montopolis Drive, Austin, TX 78741                                                 512-474-5073 ext. 105  (To see if they can help you with a case, you have to call on a Thursday, 2 to 4 p.m., for initial conversation and screening.)

Every county jail in Texas has different grievance procedures. An inmate cannot file a lawsuit challenging jail conditions without first filing grievances. Go to their Prisoners Rights webpage, and scroll down to the section entitled “Self Help – Grievance Process.” and then scroll down to the section “For Inmates in County Jails.” Their Prisoners’ Rights Program works to improve conditions in Texas prisons and jails through litigation and advocacy. They take on very few cases in terms of lawsuits,  but it’s worth trying.  

Their step-by-step instructions on how to file grievances are available online on that same page and also at LawHelp.com


Problems with your attorney? The State Bar’s Client/Attorney Assistance Program may be able to help. Their mission is to help mediate disputes between attorneys and clients. Go to the State Bar Website for information and forms, to complain or to report an attorney in the section called  FOR THE PUBLIC.


This chart shows all the different courts and their places in the system: Structure of Texas Courts 

ACLU of Texas – They used to have a Prison and Jail Accountability Project, and they are not investigating or suing on behalf of prisoners in the state of Texas any more as of 2014. Matt Simpson, ACLU policy strategist, does still monitor and evaluate the standards for county jails, and he frequently brings issues to the attention of the the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Disability Rights Texas –  works to protect and advance the civil rights of people with disabilities– mental disorders as well as physical problems and disabilities. They can help when rights have been violated and they seek to ensure that people with disabilities have access to information about their rights. Every individual is guaranteed certain rights under the United States Constitution, the Texas Constitution and other laws.  Some of these rights include:

  • The right to reasonably safe conditions of confinement, including access to adequate medical care and rehabilitation services
  • The right to refuse medication and unwanted medical treatment.
  • Texas Appleseed –  Texas Appleseed intersects with needs of jail inmates by providing for high quality legal representation of persons with mental illness or mental retardation, providing resources for judges and attorneys, handbooks for these defendants and their families, and support for communities to create mental health public defender officesYOU CAN SUE A COUNTY JAIL, BUT IT’S NOT EASY (source is the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog)

Make sure, first of all, that you have a lawyer who knows exactly what it takes. Not all lawyers know, and you will need one that is experienced in this type of case. They can then file a 1983 lawsuit. What is that?
1983 lawsuits are federal suits based upon constitutional violations. 1983 lawsuits can be an effective way to pierce the veil of sovereign immunity state and local governments so often grant themselves.

For county inmates there are two main causes of action.

Constitutional challenges by pretrial detainees may be brought under two alternative theories: as an attack on a “condition of confinement” or as an “episodic act or omission.” Hare v. City of Corinth, Miss., 74 F.3d 633, 644–45 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc). If the plaintiff has properly stated a claim as an attack on conditions of confinement, he is relieved from the burden of demonstrating a municipal entity’s or individual jail official’s actual intent to punish because, as discussed below, intent may be inferred from the decision to expose a detainee to an unconstitutional condition.

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Texas Inmate Families Association  P.O. Box 300220        Austin, TX 78703-0004  Phone: (512) 371-0900

Email: tifa@tifa.org

Texas Criminal Justice Coalition  

P.O. Box 301587
Austin, TX 78708-0027
OFFICE: 512-441-8123
This group works on several different areas from the Juvenile Justice Initiative to the Fair Defense Project
and three more, so please check out their website for more info.

Texas CURE 

Texas CURE started and runs the fan project providing fans to indigent inmates;  Joan Covici and Michael Jewell, formerly with Con-Care, now run CURE and try to answer individual questions about prison issues.

Phone: (214) 348-0293   (Joan or Michael) or (214) 893-0784  (ask for Joan)  or (214) 460-5713  (ask for Michael)                         Email: Jccovici@earthlink.net 

Texas Cure
P.O. Box 38381
Dallas, Texas  75238-0381


  • Inside Books Project – Creative grassroots group in Austin that has been “Sending Free Books to Texas Prisoners since 1998!” They do it all with volunteers and donated books and donated bucks for mailing costs—and volunteers write and include a personal note with each book. Give Inside Books some support or come to a work session on East MLK.
  • Prison Legal News – Prison Legal News is an independent 56-page monthly magazine that provides a cutting edge review and analysis of prisoner rights, court rulings and news about prison issues. PLN has a national (U.S.) focus on both state and federal prison issues, with international coverage as well. PLN provides information that enables prisoners and other concerned individuals and organizations to seek the protection and enforcement of prisoner’s rights at the grass roots level. Started by a former inmate, PLN regularly challenges and sues the Texas jails that try to block inmates from receiving information or publications!


  • Camp Allen – Camp Good News, Navasota Texas,  936-825-7175
    The camp is set in the Piney Woods of east Texas and is open to children between the ages of 10 and 15. Check with Camp Good News for dates in the coming year. There is no cost to the parent or caregiver, however, participation is limited to 60 children who are accepted on a first come, first served basis. Camp Good News is held at beautiful Camp Allen (near Navasota) which is owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
    For more information write or call:
    Ed Davis, Coordinator
    Box 388
    Huntsville, TX 77342
    or contact Restorative Justice Ministries at 936-291-3153
    Visit www.campallen.org for more information on the camp
  • Promise Camp, Amarillo Texas
    Promise Camp is located on the Bishop Quarterman Ranch and is open to children entering 4th, 5th, and 6th grades.
    Promise Camp is tuition free to all campers. Transportation to and from camp is provided to children living in and around
    the cities of Amarillo, Lubbock, Abilene, Midland-Odessa, and San Angelo.
    For more information chec out: Promises for Families 

Email or call: Katy Hoskins, Katy@promisecamp.org or 325-235-715


  • Angela House in Houston – Angela House is a residential facility for women exiting the criminal justice system that was established in July 2001. A maximum of sixteen women, without regard to race or religion, reside at Angela House where their basic needs are met. The women also participate in a program structured to assist them in selecting viable options that will help them to lead productive and meaningful lives in the future.  As women enter Angela House, they are asked to make a minimum four (4) month committment to the program. It is run by the remarkable Sister Maureen O’Connell.
  • Restorative Justice Network – A network of individuals and organizations that collaborate in creating and implementing Biblical solutions to the problems and challenges of those working with inmates and the criminal justice system.
  • Truth Be Told – A non-profit service organization providing transformational tools for women behind and beyond bars. Programs provide respectful listening and creative tools for personal and spiritual growth for incarcerated women. These folks know what they are doing; volunteers needed from the Gatesville area.
  • Bridge to Life – A faith-based nonprofit corporation founded in 1998, with a primary mission to reduce crime by reducing the recidivism rate of released inmates. By participating in face-to-face sessions inside the prison, both victims and offenders participate in a restorative justice process.


Contact the STATE REPRESENTATIVE and/or SENATOR for your district and tell them about problems and situations with your jail or the jail administration.
To find out who represents your area, go to this website:  Who Represents Me?  All you have to do is type in your address and zip code to find out who your elected representative is and how to contact them:

Two state agencies with oversight over the jails:

Texas Commission on Jail Standards
Mr. Brandon Wood, Executive Director
P.O. Box 12985
Austin, TX 78711-2985
OFFICE: 512-463-5505
FAX: 512-463-3185
E-MAIL: brandon.wood@tcjs.state.tx.us

Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments (TCOOMMI) A special state agency that studies the treatment or lack of treatment of county jail inmates and that oversees continuity of care. They are especially helpful when an inmate is not receiving treatment for mental illness. Email: tcoommi@tdcj.state.tx.us


  • U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
    Wan J. Kim, Asst. Attorney General
    950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530
    OFFICE: 202-514-2151
    FAX: 202-514-0293
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
    David Deutsch, Esq.
    950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
    Office of the Asst. Attorney General, Main
    Washington, DC 20530
    OFFICE: 202-514-6270
    E-MAIL: David.Deutsch@usdoj.gov
    (Mr. Deutsch said he is the Sr. Trial Atty. responsible for the DOJ investigation of the DCJ.)
  • United States Attorney, Northern District of Texas
    The Honorable Richard B. Roper
    Earle Cabell Federal Bldg.
    1100 Commerce St., Ste. 300
    Dallas, TX 75242-1699

Other Advocacy Groups Working to Improve Conditions and Communication

  • Disability Rights –Advocates for, protects and advances the legal, human and service rights of people with disabilities. They will intervene on behalf of prisoners.
  • Grassroots Leadership –Focused on fighting privitization of prisons and jails; supports activists, organizations, and communities.

Read these blogs

  • Grits for Breakfast – A must read! Looks at the Texas Criminal Justice System, summarizes and discusses news articles from around the state relating to criminal justice issues
  • Texas Prison Bidness – Posts information about the growing prison-for-profit industry in Texas and shares information about the true costs of private prisons to individuals, families and communities in Texas and across the country.
Prison Info and Texas State Jails
The Texas Jail Project is focused on improving conditions in county jails, and most of the information on this website is specific to county issues. For prisons and state jails, see: