Collingsworth County Jail, Wellington, Texas
Calvin has been waiting 8 months pretrial in a rural jail where he has often been the only inmate. His sister Shenequa has been trying to advocate for him from Mississippi, where the rest of his family also resides. The siblings share their perspectives on the challenges facing Calvin while in a jail.
CALVIN: My family has been very impacted by my time because I’m very involved with my whole family. So me being here affects us all – not just me. I’m out here alone with nobody. They’re all worried about me because of my treatment here, plus they all want me to be with them, which is in Mississippi. My mom and sister are stressed out because they feel like I shouldn’t be here because they know the whole story. My son is missing me based on he’s a daddy’s boy. My nieces and nephews miss me cause I’m a role model to them. I’m a great go-to guy in the family cause I help keep it together when everybody has a issue. I even babysit and take the kids for the summer and just basically help out as much as possible. I love my family and they love me!
SHENEQUA: My brother is in a jail cell not much bigger than a dog kennel. He will go days without seeing any of the staff. The staff has been mistreating him since his arrest. He has filed several grievances regarding his treatment and condition of the jail. He feels as though he is in a dungeon. Something needs to be done. He was the only person there until recently.
CALVIN: I’ve been given spoiled food, uncooked food, food with hair in it, and very short meals. The jail is very dirty. All the showers and drains are clogged daily – if you use the toilet in your cell and flush it, it goes straight to the next cell. So if our neighbor flushes, you have to flush also. At times the heater goes out, which happens a lot, so some days and nights we’ve gone without heat depending on who was working and willing to go light the pilot on the furnace. I do construction and know that this place is not up to code, and the staff aren’t really trained to work here.
SHENEQUA: They do not go back there and make sure he is ok. My brother has been incarcerated before and he has never experienced what he is going through now. Calvin suffers from asthma. He could have an attack and nobody would know.
CALVIN: Since there is no nurse or doctor here, they have to schedule appointments at the hospital, which takes at least a month even for cough syrup. The charge my last visit cost $270.09 just to see the doctor and get meds. It took many months when I first got here just to see the doctor. If you get sick, you are just sick until they make your appointment or call the ambulance for you – which costs also.
SHENEQUA: For 6 months, we have been waiting. They are not telling him anything. I just want my brother to be ok. He has no family in Texas, so I’m trying to advocate for him from Mississippi.
CALVIN: My bail is $400,000 and my public defender hasn’t even tried to get me a bail reduction so I’m just stuck sitting here. I feel lost in the system. I’ve been here six months and haven’t been to court once and I still don’t know anything about my case!
SHENEQUA: A lot of people are in similar situation and don’t know how to get help and most families that can’t afford private attorneys don’t know how to ask for help. Our law says innocent until proven guilty, but actually they are guilty until proven innocent.
CALVIN: I’ve been highly mistreated, threatened and physically abused since I’ve been here. I’m from California and I’m not on parole or probation – I’m a first-time offender in Texas. The only way to beat corruption is by standing up, and only a chosen few have the willpower to do it. Please continue to fight with us, for us.