The Coastal Bend Detention Center, the flagship facility of private prison company LCS Corrections, has failed its Texas Commission on Jail Standards inspection yet again. According to the TCJS report, which is attached to this post, the facility has a number of deficiencies including a jailer without a license, that staff were exceeding time intervals for direct supervision of prisoners under observation, and that:
"A review of shift rosters and attendance logs revealed that The Coastal Bend Detention Center consistently did not have a sufficient number of jailers assigned to inmate housing areas to meet the mandated 1 officer to 48 inmate's ratio and provide for direct inmate supervision."
This is certainly not the first time that the facility has come under scrutiny. Last year, 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. Earlier that 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. The facility has also failed inspection before, most recently in 2010 after a prisoner was accidentally released.
Just yesterday, we reported on a wrongful death lawsuit filed against another LCS Corrections facility, the Brooks County Detention Center. Clearly, it has not been a good run for the Louisiana-based company. We'll keep you posted on developments. In the meantime read more about LCS Corrections and the Coastal Bend Detention Center.
A wrongful death suit by the family of Mario Garcia against LCS Corrections' Brooks County Detention Center in Falfurrias, Texas will be going to trial in February, according to a new report from Andy Lizcano at KZTV ("Brooks Cty Dead Inmate Lawsuit," July 8):
"His family is suing the jail and some of it's officials. Kathy Snapka represents Garcia's family. 'It is our allegation that the prison disregarded his very, very serious medical condition and that's why days after he was sent to Brooks County he died,' she said. ...
According to the lawsuit, Garcia had a known seizure disorder and was on medication for it. And that he suffered from seizures and headaches while in jail. It also says jail officials 'breached their duty of care to Garcia by ailing to care for his medical needs.
The Brooks County Death Certificate lists Garcia's cause of death as seizure disorder. The nueces county medical examiner's autopsy says the same thing.
The defendants in the case are LCS Correction Services, which owns the jail, former jail warden Miguel Niderhauser, and Dr. Michael Pendleton, former head of the jail's medical staff.
On Janaury 23rd 2009, just days after Garcia's death, we reported that LCS President Dick Harbison told us Niderhauser resigned and Pendleton's contract was terminated."
We'll keep you posted on developments from this story. See our previous coverage of the Mario Garcia case:
- January death in LCS's Brooks County Jail results in lawsuit, July 28, 2009
- Inmate Dies at LCS' Brooks County Detention Center, January 16, 2009
That's the question that Patrick Michels at the Dallas Observer asks in his hard-hitting blog post yesterday ("Family of Diabetic Inmate Who Died at Dawson State Jail Sues Private Prison Operator," May 18). Michels reports that a lawsuit (attached) filed by Weatherby's family against CCA claims that despite her status as a "unstable insulin dependent diabetic," Weatherby was denied regular insulin shots (receiving instead oral diabetes medication) and a proper diet to control her illness while incarcerated at the Dawson State Jail. According to the article:
"Within days of her arrival at Dawson, the suit says, Weatherby was taken off her scheduled insulin shots and given oral Glyburide instead -- ushering in "three consecutive days of diabetic comas," the suit says.
Mistaking the comas for a suicide attempt, the suit says, jail officials had her transferred to a mental health unit in Gatesville, where she was put back on insulin shots and stabilized -- only to return to Dawson after a few days, where she was taken back off insulin and her comas started up again.
At 1 a.m. on June 22, the suit says, guards found Weatherby unresponsive in her cell again; she was transferred to Parkland, stabilized, and returned to Dawson the next morning. Weatherby died July 14 after "yet another diabetic crisis", the suit says; an autopsy blamed effects from her diabetes."
Furthermore, the article quotes advocates decrying the state of medical care at Dawson generally, adding weight to the story:
"...Elisabeth Holland, a local nurse practitioner who runs Project Matthew, a faith-based medical program for incarcerated women, says she isn't surprised. 'My opinion is that the health care in Dawson is worse than in a developing country,' she says. 'Any of those diseases -- HIV would be another one -- that require regular medication with regular screening gets lost.'"
As we've reported, the Dawson State Jail was one of the TDCJ-contracted facilities originally mentioned for possible closure during this legislative session. Instead, TDCJ quietly renewed CCA's contract for the facility last fall, and it now appears that no private prison funding will be cut this legislative session.
We have covered previously that Donald Dunn, a former CCA guard at the T. Don Hutto Facility, was convicted of charges related to sexual oppression of immigrant detainees. Last September, Dunn was sentenced to a year in jail--the maximum sentence for a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas--and two years of probation following his release.
Last week Federal charges were filed against Dunn who is still serving his state sentence in a Williamson County facility. According to recent reports:
A former T. Don Hutto Correction Center employee is accused of fondling female undocumented immigrants in his custody. Former residential supervisor Donald Dunn of Austin has been charged with federal deprivation of rights. He allegedly touched the victims in a sexual manner for self gratification while conducting illegal searchers from December 2009 to May 2010. He faces prison time if convicted.
We will keep y'all updated as this plays out in federal court.