UPDATE: Hurricane Harvey continues to inflict tremendous damage on Texas and now Louisiana.
Hurricane Harvey's effect on the criminal justice system in Texas has been profound. On Monday, the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals issued an emergency order, closing state and federal courts throughout the area. On the same day, an estimated 1,400 prisoners were evacuated from Jester III Unit and Carol Vance Unit, bringing the number of prison closures from flooding to a record-breaking five state prisons and more than 5,900 prisoners.
IMPACT ON PRISON FELLOWSHIP
"Many of the people we serve, their families, and many of our staff and volunteers have been directly affected by this week's historic flooding in Houston," says James Ackerman, president and CEO of Prison Fellowship®. "We applaud the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for taking appropriate actions to protect prisoners’ lives and safety, and as the flood waters recede, we will remain committed to the work of restoring those affected by crime and incarceration in Texas. Our prayers for safety and comfort are with the men and women living in affected prisons, prison staff and their families, families with an incarcerated loved one, our many dedicated volunteers in the Houston area, and all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey."
CAROL VANCE UNIT
The Carol Vance Unit houses one of the Prison Fellowship Academies™ in Houston. Prison Fellowship Academies take men and women through a holistic life transformation spanning weeks or months, where they are mentored by Prison Fellowship staff and volunteers to lead lives of purpose and productivity inside and outside of prison.
The unit hopes to reopen this weekend once the water levels have stabilized. Academy participants are doing well, as are the staff.
CAROLE S. YOUNG MEDICAL FACILITY
Another Prison Fellowship Academy operates at the Carole S. Young Medical Facility in Dickinson. The prison was scheduled for evacuation, but authorities were unable to carry it out in time. Officers, administrators, and incarcerated women rode out the storm together and experienced some flooding. Many have been unable to contact their families.
PRISON FELLOWSHIP STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS
Prison Fellowship staff and volunteers have also been affected by the storm and the resulting flooding.
"Our team members are safe, but some have been displaced," says Dan Kingery, senior vice president of field programs. "All have been under days of relentless stress, and there's no immediate relief in view."
"Most of the Prison Fellowship Academy staff are waiting for the river to crest and the mandatory evacuation order to be lifted," shares Prison Fellowship employee Susan Nutt. "We are so thankful for all the love, prayers, and support."
We ask that you continue to pray
- For those who have suffered damage and loss
- For the women at Carole Young who have had to remain at their facility
- For all prisoners in the Houston area who have also been displaced and are out of touch with their families
- For the prisoners' families who have been displaced and impacted by Hurricane Harvey
- For the officials, leaders, first-responders, and correctional officers as they respond to this disaster
- For the Prison Fellowship staff and volunteers on the ground in Houston
This is a continuing story.