Protest continues over Harris County Jail conditions

Conditions at the Harris County Jail are once again under fire, this time from social justice activists sighting thousands of inmate-on-inmate assaults and 18 deaths so far this year.

The latest was Fred Harris, a 19-year-old, first-time offender with special needs, stabbed and beaten to death by another prisoner two and half times his size.


"There are multiple situations similar. You have to die to make the news," said Seneca McQueen, a protester with the Texas Organizing Project.

Against the backdrop of a pending class action federal lawsuit filed by detention officers alleging horrific conditions and dangerous understaffing, Thursday's protest echoed the call for change.

On this day, Ruth Randall, the mother of two inmates, transformed into walking, talking frustration.

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"If they get off their tail and do what they supposed to do to make sure they not killed and making weapons and stuff," said Randall.

Randall says behind jail walls chaos and mismanagement are rampant.

"I'm a grandmother, and I get calls. And every other mother gets calls. And we can't do anything about it.

"They half feed our children. They take our money for phone calls. They do whatever they want to do up here. And we, as taxpayers, have no say so," said Randall.

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It is an issue that's forging an unlikely alliance between those who believe the criminal justice system is broken and the rank-and-file detention officers tasked with the care of those in custody.

"The Commissioners Court needs to show some leadership and give us the personnel necessary to do our job," said David Cuevas, President of the Harris County Deputies Organization.

The protest occurred as inspectors with the Texas Jail Standards Commission are continuing their review of conditions and procedures inside the troubled Harris County facilities.