Montgomery County Jail, Conroe, Texas
Victor Sterling, 53, was held in pretrial detention for over two years. He was successfully managing his medical and mental health illnesses with medications prior to incarceration in Montgomery County Jail. Lack of access to those medications and proper healthcare while in jail was an extreme challenge to his wellbeing.
I have mental and physical disabilities that I made the facility aware of the first day I was here. Yet it took 4-6 months to receive my mental health medication, and 6 months before I saw a doctor. One doctor for 1200 inmates is outrageous. Adequate healthcare is impossible.
I have bone on bone degenerative arthritis. I have been fighting for suitable pain medication, but I am not having much success. To this date I am still in great pain and adequate medical attention has not been reached.
Six days after entering the jail, I had a serious anxiety attack because I was withdrawing from long-term pain medication (opioids) and Xanax medication. I was told there was no qualified personnel to handle this emergency. They refused to send me to an outside facility for a psychological evaluation. I suffered.
Since being incarcerated, I have lost my fiancée and my baby girl. She couldn’t take the delayed justice and adversities I face on a day- to-day basis. My mother worries that I will be harmed by authorities for standing up for my rights. My oldest daughter, a college student and Army recruiter, has PTSD from two tours of duty in the Army and needs her dad emotionally, but I can only do so much from jail. My middle daughter also suffers from my absence, as the teen years are especially difficult for a young lady trying to establish her identity.
I would have liked to post bond, but because I had an out-of-county address, I could not find a bail bondsman that would carry the bond without having two cosigners. The indigent defense system compensates attorneys for court appearance resets. Therefore, there is no real incentive to expedite the resolution of a case. High caseloads contribute to a ‘meet and plead’ system. That so often leads to attorney neglect by overburdened and inadequately compensated indigent defense lawyers. This system is one of attorney welfare supported by dual coercion with the District Attorney.
During my quest for justice, I have refused to surrender my right to effective counsel or compromise my faith in God. My life’s story is rooted in the love of God, change, and resilience.
*Note: In March 2015, following the death of an inmate who died from health complications, the Montgomery County Jail was found by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to be out-of-compliance with minimum state standards regarding medical care. Victor noted in correspondence that following the incident, a Captain at the jail directed a new infirmary to be opened and hired a new doctor and nurse practitioner to care for inmate needs. He wrote, “I am especially grateful for not being forced into solitary confinement to receive my pain medication. He allows me to take it at the main infirmary and return to my housing pod. This has made a great difference in rehabbing my fractured knee and maintaining my mental health stability.”