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TCSO Response to CAIR-Austin Allegations


TCSO Response to CAIR-Austin Allegations

Honoring the religious expression rights of individuals in custody is extremely important to TCSO. There are also procedures that must be followed in accordance with Texas Commission on Jail Standards policy to ensure the safety and security of correctional facilities, officers, and arrestees. TCSO carries these out while accommodating religious expression. The following are some examples of that commitment to respecting arrestees’ religious expression.

Arrestees are offered long-sleeved sweatshirts whenever there are concerns expressed about their arms being covered. Arrestees who asked for sweatshirts were accommodated. To further assist with this commitment, sweatshirts were also brought to Central Booking from TCSO’s laundry facility at Del Valle. Of course, with the unusual volume of arrestees at the same time and the number of people requesting them, that took time to accomplish.

Individuals who wear a head covering are asked to remove it for security inspection only. This is completed in private by officers of the same gender. Once completed, the individual in custody is allowed to place the head covering back on before returning to the intake area to complete their booking paperwork. This practice was followed.

 Further, TCSO’s current operating procedure regarding booking photographs of individuals who wear a head covering is to allow them to keep their head covering on while fingerprints and booking photos are completed. For security purposes, and to have on file an unobstructed photo in the event of an escape from the facility, a separate photograph without the head covering is taken in private by an officer of the same gender, and these are maintained in a confidential, access restricted supervisor file, separate from booking photos.

Central Booking neither carries nor supplies religious items such as head coverings, prayer mats, rosary beads, etc. for individuals who come into custody without them.

Once an arrestee has been magistrated and accepted into the care and custody of TCSO, Chaplain Services provides religious materials upon request.

Arrestees change into jail uniforms in private, secure rooms. Women are offered a variety of feminine hygiene products to choose from upon request. The restrooms in the Central Booking seating area are freely accessible by arrestees and soap is available in those restrooms. Any concerns brought to our attention are addressed.

 TCSO adamantly respects the rights of everyone in its jail facilities, whether an arrestee or an employee, and welcomes offers from the ACLU and other organizations to collaborate on religious expression in a jail setting via an in-person meeting.
Submitted By: Kristen Dark, Sr. Public Information Officer (512) 854-4986

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