Earlier this month, a 27-year old man who was detained at the Coastal Bend Detention Center died from a brain tumor after going to the doctor for high blood pressure (Melissa Schroeder, KrisTV, "LCS Detention Center Inmate Dies at 27," June 2nd, 2010):
A Taft man who was detained at the LCS Detention Center in Robstown died this past Saturday. Warden Mike Striedel said 27-year-old Leo Guajardo died from a brain tumor.
Striedel said Guajardo had been at the detention center since January for taking the weapon of a U.S. Marshal. Striedel says Guajardo saw a doctor Friday afternoon for high blood pressure, he was immediately put on medication, but a couple hours later he claimed to feel dizzy.
The Warden says he was taken to the hospital and doctors found a massive brain tumor. His condition worsened and eventually he was put on life support.
Striedel says the family decided to take him off life support Saturday night and he was pronounced dead.
The Texas Rangers will investigate the incident to make sure everyone at the detention center did what they could to help Guajardo. The man's family is not ready to make a statement yet, as they are preparing for Guajardo's funeral.
Earlier this year, the Coastal Bend Detention Center was found to have not known that the facility was supposed to report deaths of inmates while in custody. If the family or LCS have any more comments we will share them here.
Several current and former Texas GEO faciltiies are subject to a class action lawsuit settlement challenging the company's strip search policy of low-level inmates. I first saw the story as part of a Philadelphia Inquirer story ("Settlement reached over Delco Prison strip-searches," May 20),
A company that formerly operated the Delaware County Prison has settled a federal class-action lawsuit involving strip-searches of incoming inmates charged with minor crimes.
The $2.9 million settlement awards up to $400 each to about 10,000 inmates at six GEO Group facilities.
Prisoners at the Delaware County facility, now operated by Community Education Centers of West Caldwell, N.J., who were strip-searched between Jan. 30, 2006, and Jan. 30, 2008, may be eligible for settlement awards. The lawsuit named five other GEO Group prisons, in Texas, New Mexico, and Illinois.
... Those eligible to apply for settlement include prisoners who were not accused of drug, weapons, or violent crimes; those involving probation or parole violations; and those who did not behave in a manner that would give guards cause to conduct strip searches.
According to Class Action Lawsuits in the News ("The GEO Group Jail, Correctional Facility & Detention Center Strip Search Class Action Lawsuit Settlement," May 24), those eligible for the settlement payment include folks who were strip-searched for minor infractions at the Frio County Detention Center in Pearsall, the Dickens County Detention Center (now operated by CEC) in Dickens, and the Newton County Correctional Center in Newton between January 30, 2006 to January 30, 2008. According to the site:
The GEO Group Jail Strip Search class action settlement, if finally approved by the Court, reportedly would entitle each settlement class member who submits a timely (by September 14, 2010) and valid claim form to a payment of up to $400.00 as their share of a $2.999 million Settlement Fund (after payment of administrative costs, an incentive award to the representative plaintiffs, and attorneys’ fees).
In addition, the GEO Group has agreed to revise its allegedly unlawful strip search policy going forward, and has agreed to an injunction to ensure that detainees being admitted to the Jails are only strip searched where there is reasonable suspicion to justify the search.
Settlement information is at www.multistatestripsearchsettlement.com.
The Brownsville Herald ("10 guards suing Management & Training Corp," May 21) reported last week that guards are suing the Management and Training Corporation for wrongful termination. According to the Herald story,
Ten former security guards at Willacy County Regional Detention Facility have filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Management & Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, and two company officials claiming they were fired for refusing to make false statements.
Peter Zavaletta, the attorney for 10 of the 11 guards who were fired, said his clients lost their jobs for refusing to sign statements saying other guards were gambling while on duty.
"None of my clients were gambling and when they refused to sign statements accusing each other of gambling, they were terminated," he said.
Zavaletta said he doesn’t know who the 11th guard is or who his attorney is, but was told by MTC there is an 11th guard who was fired. None of the guards had ever been disciplined and several had been promoted to supervisory positions at the privately owned and operated prison, the lawsuit states.
The Willacy County Regional Detention Facility is one of two large MTC prisons in Raymondville. The other, the Willacy County Processing Center, labeled by the press "Tent City" after being built of a series of Kevlar pods, is the nation's largest and one of its most notorious immigrant detention centers. "Tent City" has come been protested many times by immigrant, faith, and human rights organizations.
We'll keep you posted on developments from this lawsuit.
The Coastal Bend Detention Center, LCS Corrections' so-called "flagship facility," will be under extreme scrutiny over the next 90 days following a failed inspection and the unauthorized release of an inmate because of mistaken identity, which went unknown for three weeks. LCS hired Alberto Bravo as a new warden shortly before the failed inspection in hopes of changing the facility for the better and improving their standards. Bravo's work temporarily paid off as they passed their second round of inspections. However, shortly after passing the second inspection, they mistakenly released an inmate and did not realize what had happened for three weeks prior to the "escape."
Because of this, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards has defined the facility as being "at-risk," meaning over the next 90 days the TCJS will have full authority to conduct unannounced inspections at any day or time. If no citations are filed from the inspections over this time, then the facility will be taken off the list. If there are citations or failures found, then more actions will be taken, depending on the offenses. Warden Bravo in investigating the release, and has narrowed his focus to specific employees. He told the Caller-Times, “We are trying to narrow it down to where it happened,” Bravo said. “It was human error. The procedures we had in place, they failed to follow the procedures" ("Robstown prison faces unannounced inspections after inadvertant inmate release," The Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 18 December, 2009).
We will remain aware about the status of this facility and relay any information we find through these unannounced inspections.