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.
On Monday, an announcement surfaced regarding a recent failed inspection of the Coastal Bend Detention Center. Prison company LCS Corrections owns and operates the facility and contracts with the U.S. Marshals, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Border Patrol in order to maintain their largely immigrant inmate population.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) director Adan Muñoz explained,"I have to bring any remedial order before the [jail] commission, but this borders really close to complete incompetence" ("Robstown Prison Fails Inspection," Corpus Christi Caller-Times, September 21, 2009).
The inspection revealed a total of 17 compliance issues:
1. Inmate toilet and shower areas have insufficient privacy shields.
2. Jailers are not being trained properly for fire drills.
3. Jailers are not being trained properly in the use of air packs.
4. No documentation outlining generator testing or the transfer of the facility’s electric load at least once a month.
5. Inmates were not classified correctly.
6. Classification reviews were not conducted within 90 days of initial inmate custody assessments.
7. Classification workers didn’t receive the required four hours of training.
8. Internal classification audit logs were not kept.
9. No tuberculosis screening plan had been approved by the health department.
10. Twenty-four officers did not have a required jailer’s license or temporary jailer’s license.
11. Hourly face-to-face prisoner checks were not performed.
12. The facility did not meet the state mandated 1-to-48 jailer-to-inmate ratio.
13. Personnel did not conduct required contraband searches.
14. Disciplinary hearings for minor inmate infractions were conducted by a single person rather than a disciplinary board.
15. Jail did not respond to inmates with grievances within 15 days or resolve issues within 60 days as required.
16. Inmates did not receive one hour of supervised physical education three days per week as required.
17. A fire panel doesn’t show an inspection tag.
While each of these issues is important, some of them are outright travesties. Not testing for tuberculosis or giving adequate exercise time are both grossly negligent to the health of the inmates, and jailers without licenses not making face-to-face checks or searches for contraband combine to form ideal conditions for a riot to erupt and a subsequent failed attempt at subduing it.
This marks the second failed private prison inspection in Texas this month. In both cases, the TCJS deemed the facilities non-compliant after inspection for mostly the same reasons of negligence in inmate supervision. Coastal Bend Detention Center's warden Elberto Bravo defends, "I know the report looks bad. They say it is the worst they have ever seen. But honestly, we are going to be OK. It’s just going to take me a little bit of time to do it" ("Robstown Prison Fails Inspection," September 21, 2009).
This is not the first time the LCS Corrections has had troubles with this facility, though. Earlier this year in January, the facility had to lay off 35 employees in order to cover for their lack of filled prison beds. Later in March, just a couple months later, the facility rehired 40 more employees in an attempt compensate for a large influx of prisoners after earlier having too few. Warden Bravo claims he will have his facility in compliance with the Texas standards by the end of October, and you know we will be watching.