TEXARKANA, Texas (AP) — A special inspection conducted at a Texas for-profit jail following an inmate’s death in March found that officers weren’t doing required cell checks even though their paperwork said otherwise, according to documents.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards concluded in an April report that LaSalle Corrections, which operates the Bi-State jail in Texarkana on the border between Texas and Arkansas, did not comply with the state’s inmate check record-keeping law, the Texarkana Democrat-Gazette reported.
“After reviewing video evidence in conjunction with self-reporting by facility administration, it was determined that eight, 60-minute, face-to-face observations, prior to the inmate being discovered, did not occur, even though the rounds were documented at least every 60 minutes on the observation logs,” the inspection report states.
LaSalle Corrections settled an inmate death suit the day after the report was issued. LaSalle Corrections previously agreed to a settlement in 2017 when a severely diabetic woman died after a nurse refused medical treatment. The former nurse subsequently pleaded guilty to misdemeanor negligent homicide.
The commission’s inspection came in March after the in-custody death of 59-year-old Franklin Greathouse. He was the second person to die in the Bi-State jail this year.
Shannon Herklotz, assistant director at the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, said the jail returned to compliance in late May.
Officials with LaSalle Corrections did not respond to a request for comment.
The Bi-State jail is under the supervision of the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office. Jeff Neal, the county’s chief deputy, said technology intended to ensure mandatory observation checks are being done has been installed in the administrative segregation cells in the jail and the technology will soon be functional “jail wide.”
Herklotz noted private jail management companies have dealt with increased scrutiny after jail deaths around the state and critics said it is the result of for-profit companies choosing to put their bottom lines over the rights and needs people who are incarcerated.
A Texas House bill , which takes effect Sept. 1, requires that the compliance status of a privately operated county jail, such as the Bi-State jail, be evaluated at the next meeting of the board of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards if the jail is considered noncompliant during a standard yearly inspection or special checkup.
Herklotz added that means a private management company could be mandated to appear before the commission, address the non-compliance and face possible action by the board.
Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com