You are here

Watch the State Senate Ask Hard Questions About Texas Private Prisons

You can watch the video of Friday's Senate Committee on Criminal Justice as they talked about monitoring (and the lack of monitoring) of Texas' private prisons and jails. (The link requires Real Player to work.) I decided to offer some signposts for those of you who may want to watch just a particular part of it instead of the entire three-and-a-half hour hearing.

The committee opens with Ms. Dimitra Pope, the acting head of the Texas Youth Commission, and includes an extensive back and forth with her and committee members about monitoring of private prisons for youth (and public ones as well). Here's where it becomes obvious where some of the senators stand.

Then, onto Brad Livingston of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) about overall monitoring issues of the wide range of private lockups (1:18 mark in the hearing). Mr. Livingston indicated that TDCJ has just over 17,400 "contract beds" in secure settings (translation: beds that are operated by private companies, some for-profit, some non-profit) and 1,600 private beds that are in halfway houses and treatment facilities.

He's followed by Bonita White of TDCJ (1:58) to talk about the use of private beds in her system of community corrections (adult probationers).

Then came the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (at 2:03) who explained the monitoring system of Texas county jails, in which four inspectors are responsible for annual inspections of over 267 county jails (private and county-operated lockups). They explained, among other things, that they have no authority to monitor the Texas prisoners who have been exported from Harris County's jail to a private prison in Lousiana or jails in Texas holding only federal detainees.

The committee also heard public testimony (2:23) opening with our own Bob Libal, followed by Nicole "Give'em Hell" Porter (2:30), and others, including fellow blogger Scott Henson of Grits for Breakfast (2:41), who was indeed in his go-to-meeting clothes as he reported in his account of the hearing. Shirley Noble's attorney offered perspective on several horrible cases of mistreatment in private lockups (2:59), and then Shirley Noble offered heartbreaking testimony about the death of her son Scot Noble Payne (3:15) in GEO Group's custody earlier this year. The attorney of the family of Gregorio De La Rosa read a statement from his older sister (3:25). De La Rosa was murdered by two prisoners in a GEO Group prison in 2001. Then, with a little back and forth, the hearing closed.

Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of the hearing from Bob...

Blogging Categories: