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State Senator accused of accepting bribes from private companies

Federal prosecutors have indicted state Sen. Carlos Uresti for accepting bribes from a private prison medical contractor, reports the San Antonio Current.

Federal prosecutors revealed last week that the senator had been involved in a lawsuit against the Reeves County Detention Center following the death of Jesus Manuel Galindo. When Galindo was first detained in the facility, he told prison staff that he had a history of epileptic seizures. He complained about not receiving his medication and ended up in solitary confinement. He begged to guards to not put him into solitary in case of another seizure. The ACLU, which sued on behalf of Galindo's family, listed Physicians Network Associates (PNA) as a defendant. PNA was the private medical company that the detention center had contracted with to provide their medical care.

After Reeves County won the contract to work with the Bureau of Prisons, they needed to find a medical provider for the prisoners. The indictment claims that Jimmy Galindo, then a judge in Reeves County, agreed to push through the contract for the PNA to work at the Reeves County Detention Center in return for kickbacks. It is then believed that Sen. Uresti was brought in to act as a middleman for PNA and Judge Galindo. The lawsuit alleges that PNA and its successor companies paid Uresti $10,000 each month from September 2006 to September 2016. It is believed he pocketed half of the money and gave the rest to Jimmy Galindo.

It is particularly upsetting knowing that state officials profited off the Reeves Detention Center, which has a history of denying access to attorneys, riots, and the death of prisoners in their custody.

Family sues GEO Group over wrongful death of man in federal immigrant prison

On March 4, the family of Nestor Garay filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that private prison operator GEO Group negligently left Garay in the care of unqualified medical staff who failed to respond properly when Garay suffered a stroke while incarcerated at the Big Springs Correctional Center in June 2014. It took two days after Garay was found moaning and unresponsive in his bed, covered in sweat and urine, for GEO Group to send him to the emergency room in Midland, 40 miles away from the facility, where he eventually died handcuffed to the hospital bed.

GEO Group subcontracts medical care at the facility to Correct Care Solutions (CCS), who had only a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) on hand the night that Garay suffered his stroke. LVN licenses require only one year of training, so they typically serve as support staff for more highly trained doctors and nurses. That night, the LVN contacted the on-call Physicians Assistant who gave Garay anti-stroke medicine and sent him back to bed rather that ordering him to the emergency room. By morning, Garay’s face was drooping and right arm was contracted and he was ordered to the ER. It took another hour to actually leave the facility.

Doctors who treated Garay say that the window of treatment for the type of stroke he suffered is about 3 hours, so there was little to be done once he arrived at the hospital more than six hours after the initial stroke.

Big Springs is a Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prison, one of 11 facilities around the country incarcerating exclusively noncitizens convicted of federal crimes. The prisons operate under less strenuous standards than other Bureau of Prisons facilities. They have also come under fire from civil rights groups for their lack of adequate medical care, food, and other inhumane conditions and have been the sites of recent prisoner uprisings.

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