Female inmates have it bad, but for one woman in the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, the three month wait she had already undergone for pleading guilty to the felony charge of stealing a couple cases of beer was made longer due to Hurricane Harvey.
For this inmate, and many others, the wait was about to get longer, and even those who were planning to plead guilty and ask for time served are still waiting for a new court date. For some, especially Female Inmates defendants, it’s taken a month and even more.
Everyone in the local criminal justice system has experienced delays, but many defense attorneys judges, a staff member of the DA’s office, as well as other administrators have said that some pretrial inmates are being made to wait longer than others.
Female Inmates Impacted the Worst
Those affected the worst? Females inmates who are mentally ill and on specialty dockets, or the smaller groups of defendants, have been made to wait for weeks without even seeing a judge. Many of these inmates are ready to take a plea deal or be let out on probation.
According to defense attorney, Staci Biggar, who specializes in cases where mental health is a concern, there are many cases in which her clients that are mentally ill went as long as a month without seeing a judge.
According to Biggar, everyone was doing what they could, but it was overwhelming, and because the group she represents is smaller, the courts were handling the majority of the people that they could, until they could get to the smaller populations.
She doesn’t think there was any malicious intent behind the situation. She believes that the smaller group of people she represents just got overlooked.
It largely has to do with the need to find new courtrooms, because none of the civil or family courtrooms have space for inmates and holding cells or juries. This has caused them to have improvise to allow inmates to face judges and working the logistics of transportation.