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Improved Oversight Needed for Private Jails

Lawmakers are trying to identify mechanisms for oversight of Texas correctional facilities in light of recent prison sexual assault scandals. Officials recently settled with the family of a raped prisoner who committed suicide in the private Val Verde County Jail, managed by GEO Corp. Recently, Michele Deitch suggested Texas needs to create an independent agency responsible for conducting regular inspections of all correctional facilities.

According to Deitch, an independent oversight agency should have a "golden key" that gives it access to any institution at any time without prior notice. Inspectors should be able to meet confidentially with juvenile and adult prisoners; interview employees; and examine official records.

The type of oversight Deitch is suggesting is different from anything currently operating in Texas today. After all, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards did not successfully monitor the Val Verde County Jail.

LeTisha Tapia was raped after being labeled a snitch. Tapia, who died at the Val Verde County Jail in July 2004, was housed in the same cell block as male inmates and reported that guards allowed male and female inmates to have sex with each other. An independent monitor with the ability to maintain Tapia's confidentially and prevent retaliation could have saved her life.

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My son Kermit Powdrill was in Prison in a federal holding prison in Spur Tx. He was moved from there on 03/08/07 and moved to a county jail in San Angelo Tx. He was suppose to be transferred to A TDC unit but when I call them, Huntsville says that they do not know where he is at. They thought he was out on a bench warrant from July of 06. This is done and when I inquire about him, they can not give me any answers. I have sent him money and put in the inmate acct fund for TDC but he can not even get it as he is not showing up in the TDC system. His number is 1355972 and we really need some help concerning the overall handling of his case. There is some things going on that are not right. It seems that they are hoping that he just gets lost in the system. There have been some mistakes made in his case and we need some help. Please help. I can be contacted at terri.powdrill@hhsc.state.tx.us and my phone number is 325-864-8585. I am in Abilene, Tx.

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I went to school with Kermit at Jefferson and Cooper and I came across this website:

http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/texas-prisons/inmates/kermit-herschell-powdrill-ii/120381/