Harris County jail inmate talks about current facility conditions, lack of medical care
Houston - As more deaths are reported at the Harris County Jail, a current inmate spoke exclusively to FOX 26 about the current conditions in the facility.
Jawon Bridges says his pod is currently in quarantine after a reported shingles outbreak. He says it is the same pod Robert Terry, Jr., the 32-year-old man who died in custody on May 16, was in. His cause of death has not been released and is under investigation by the Texas Rangers.
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Family members say Terry, Jr. asked officers for medical help before he collapsed that morning. He was later pronounced dead in the hospital.
"I was in the same pod with him," says Bridges. "From the moment he came in until the moment he passed away. It scares me. It makes me think about their family. It makes me think about their own family. That could be me."
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Bridges, who is awaiting trial for murder, robbery, and drug charges, says he's been suffering from an inguinal hernia for a few months.
He's been told his condition is not severe enough, and he will have to wait six months for surgery.
"They take days to give us any medical attention. We have to cause a scene," says Bridges.
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FOX 26 received this response from Harris County regarding the inmates:
"We have checked on this individual and are following our process to address those seeking medical attention. He has seen been seen by medical staff several times in the past few months."
Retired Harris County Jail supervisor Jeff Reese says the training of the detention officers is what desperately needs to change.
"Everyone's going to point at it being short-staffed, but I don't think that's the answer," says Reese. "They taught us at the time that anyone that was in jail was there because they deserved it. You wouldn't be there if you hadn't done something, so that begins the mistreatment of the inmates. A lot of times they're disregarded."
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Bridges also says there's a medical request box in every pod, where inmates can fill out the information about their medical conditions. A staff member picks up those requests on every shift, so the inmate can be triaged. They are then sent to a nurse who determines whether their injury or concern is serious enough for an appointment or a doctor.
Reese also says any detention officer willing to provide adequate help to an inmate is usually frowned upon by other officers.
"That thin blue line also puts the brakes on anyone trying to do the right thing for the inmate population," he says.
Reese plans to attend an upcoming rally that focuses on jail reform. It's hosted by Jacilet Griffin, the mother of Evan Griffin. Evan died while in jail custody in March 2022. The event will be held Saturday, May 27 at 2 p.m. at the Landmark Community Center in Missouri City.