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Attorneys Representing Dog Attack Victims Across Texas

This website is maintained by the Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a Dallas, Texas law firm representing people across Texas for dog bite injury cases. We have attempted to provide useful information for those harmed by animal attacks.

Posts Tagged ‘jail standards’

The Family of a Man Beaten to Death in a Louisiana County Jail Files a Federal Lawsuit

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Beauregard Parish Jail in Louisiana (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

At the age of 40, Tommy Joe Smith was allegedly murdered at the Tangipahoa Parish jail in Amite, Louisiana, on January 31, 2017, by 12 prisoners, who attacked him. An autopsy showed that he died of blunt force trauma to the head. In the first week of January 2018, Smith’s family filed a lawsuit in connection with his death. The lawsuit claims that prisoners known to be violent were free to move between cells, though they knew Smith’s history increased the potential that he would be targeted for violence. The federal lawsuit claims that Smith was brutally beaten to death by a dozen prisoners while authorities in charge of the jail failed to adequately protect him. The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office said things at the jail dormitory were very quickly brought under control, after the brutal attack.

According to Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, the environment created limitations such as the ability of the victim to escape and the safety of jail staff members, emergency medical responders, and the prisoners. The primary consideration, in regards to that comment, was the number of prisoners involved in the custodial death.

In connection with Smith’s death, one juvenile and 11 men have been indicted by a grand jury on manslaughter charges.

In county jails, prisoners have a right to be protected from violence. Certain procedures are in place that provide guidelines for how to run a jail. In Texas, for example, county jails must follow a set of minimum jail standards. Jails are routinely inspected, to ensure that required practices are being followed. If there has been negligence, a jail receives a citation; they have a certain period of time in which to remedy the situation.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

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Cass County, Texas Jail is Cited for 2 Alleged Violations of Minimum Jail Standards

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Harris County Jail, Houston, Texas (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) routinely conducts inspections of local jail facilities to ensure that they are safe, secure, and suitable. Last year Cass County Jail was inspected, and a Jail Inspection Report was released on November 14, 2017. The jail was cited for two alleged violations. One involved training and drills that ensure jailers are prepared for emergencies involving fire, evacuation drills, and location and use of equipment. Several of the jailers allegedly did not receive their quarterly life safety training. The other alleged violation was that a fire panel had not been inspected within the past year, as required by minimum jail standards. Many times, TCJS inspects a jail in response to prisoner complaints. Those complaints are detailed and analyzed in annual jail reports prepared by the commission. Life safety complaints, such as those Cass County Jail is cited for, register as 0% of total complaints.

Of the 1,079 complaint letters TCJS received in the year 2016, 45% of them were complaints about medical services. When someone dies while incarcerated, special jail inspections are conducted. Documentation and videos regarding medical care are included in the detailed research of anything that may have been associated with the death.

In news during summer of 2017, medical-related problems regarding prisoners in Texas county jails being exposed to sepsis were highlighted. In Harris County, Texas, in particular, records revealed that custodial deaths have been caused by a variety of treatable infections, including sepsis, pancreatitis, bacterial meningitis, and swine flu. The conclusion of the analysis was that revisions may need to be made in Texas jails, to ensure that prisoners receive needed medical treatments.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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La Salle County Jail in Cotulla, Texas, Allegedly Violates 2 Minimum Jail Standards

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

Nueces River at Cotulla, Texas (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) conducted a jail inspection of La Salle County Jail in Cotulla, Texas, and issued a jail inspection report on November 16, 2017. The investigators with TCJS found two alleged violations of minimum jail standards. Both of the cited standards involve ensuring the safety of prisoners. More information follows:

  • Prisoners in a detoxification or holding cell must be observed face-to-face by jail personnel every 30 minutes or less. TCJS reported that after a careful review of video evidence and paperwork, it was found that either welfare checks of prisoners in detox or holding cells exceeded 30-minutes or the checks were not documented or completed as required by minimum jail standards.
  • Facilities have strict guidelines related to ensuring regular face-to-face observation of all prisoners. The maximum amount of time prisoners must be checked in person is every 60 minutes. Some prisoners are in areas of a jail in which they are to be checked every 30 minutes. When being booked into jail, prisoners go through a process to determine whether they are potentially suicidal, mentally ill, assaultive, or demonstrate bizarre behavior. If any of these are indicated, the prisoners are given face-to-face checks every 30 minutes. In addition, there must be a voice communication capability between jailers and prisoners that goes both ways. Closed circuit televisions can be used, but it cannot take the place of personal observation. TCJS investigators found that that in the area where observations must be made every 60 minutes or less, jail staff allegedly failed to meet those minimum jail standards.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

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La Salle County Jail is Cited by TCJS for 2 Alleged Minimum Jail Standards Violations

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

English: The Wagon Wheel Restaurant, abandoned...

English: The Wagon Wheel Restaurant, abandoned, near the Nueces River, Cotulla, Texas was razed in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Jail Inspection Report for La Salle County Jail in Cotulla, Texas, was completed on November 16, 2017, by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS). The jail was cited for two alleged minimum jail standards violations. Anytime a jail comes under scrutiny as a result of a custodial death or another event that raises concerns, the TCJS conducts an investigation. Documentation and videos are carefully reviewed, to determine whether records indicate that the jail staff has been following mandatory procedures. The purpose of jail standards is largely to protect the safety of prisoners, staff members, and visitors.

Based on studies and research, it has been determined that making face-to-face checks and ensuring that there is a sufficient amount of staff are two jail procedures that help to keep prisoners safe. These are both areas in which La Salle County Jail has been cited. More details follow:

  • Paperwork and video evidence was carefully reviewed, and it was determined that prisoners in holding or detox cells at La Salle County Jail allegedly had welfare checks that exceeded 30 minutes. In addition, documentation was not completed in compliance with minimum jail standards.
  • In Texas, each jail facility must have the appropriate number of jailers around the clock. Face-to-face observation of all prisoners must be made by jailers at least every 60 minutes. For at-risk prisoners, such as those who are mentally ill or potentially suicidal, observations must be made every 30 minutes at most. A review of paperwork showed that jail staff either failed to make the 60-minute checks as required or failed to document them as required.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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A Prisoner is in Very Critical Condition after an Attempted Suicide in Smith County Jail in Tyler, Texas

Friday, November 10th, 2017

On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, Smith County Sheriff Larry R. Smith announced that at Smith County Jail in Tyler, Texas, a prisoner was discovered hanging inside a side cell at approximately 1:25 p.m. The prisoner’s condition was described as “very critical.” A detention officer made the discovery, and the prisoner was immediately cut down. Other personnel rendered aid. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was quickly initiated. The Tyler Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services responded to the call and continued efforts to save the man’s life as he was transported to a local hospital. The identity of the prisoner has not been revealed. Authorities said that he was admitted to the jail on November 2, and he had been on suicide watch.

The prisoner who hanged himself was considered to be a danger to other prisoners, and authorities say that’s why he was segregated to a side cell. The reason he was on suicide watch was because of some of his answers at initial booking. As a suicide risk, it was required that he be on 10-minute observation schedule. Records showed that he had been checked 9 minutes before being found hanging in the cell.

The sheriff said the Texas Rangers and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards had been notified about the attempted jail suicide.

Anytime there is a custodial death or injury, an investigation is done, to determine whether there was any type of negligence, such as a lapse in following jail standards and procedures, that could have contributed to the incident. Families of people who were harmed or who died while in custody often file civil lawsuits, if they feel that their loved one was the victim of a wrongful death.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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Access to the County Jail by a Federal Agency is Denied by the Oklahoma County Board of County of Commissioners

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Oklahoma City OK Oklahoma County Courthouse (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

Without providing a detailed explanation, Oklahoma County commissioners unanimously voted on October 2, 2017 to deny an inspection request made by the U.S. Justice Department. The potential for a costly federal lawsuit is the risk of refusing to cooperate with the request to inspect Oklahoma County Jail. Lawyers from the civil rights division of the Justice Department had requested to tour the jail from November 6 thru 10. The purpose was to assess compliance to a 2009 agreement to improve conditions for prisoners. The chairman of Oklahoma County’s Board of County Commissioners, Brian Maughan, made a statement after the vote to the effect that he thinks all within their power has been done, and he thinks that most of the concerns have been satisfied, which deserves recognition.

The Oklahoma City jail came under federal oversight in 2009 for overcrowded conditions and 60 alleged civil rights violations. The following were among the alleged civil rights violations that were identified at that time:

  • Direct supervision of detainees was virtually nonexistent;
  • Suicide prevention was deficient;
  • Healthcare was inadequate; and
  • The risk of detainee-on-detainee violence was inordinately high.

Reportedly, civic leaders as well as county and city officials have been concerned for years that there might be a federal takeover of the jail because of the 2009 investigation. The sheriff in Oklahoma County, who is newly elected, reports that the daily average population size at the jail has dropped from 2,700 as of May 2014 to the 1,900s. The jail was built to house 1,200 prisoners.

The first new sheriff in two decades has made many improvements, such as repairs inside cells. In July of 2017, however, prisoner homicide occurred for the first time since 2004. Four detainees were charged with first-degree manslaughter in the gang-related homicide.

Problems currently identified at the jail include the presence of black mold in the jail kitchen and other areas and a lack of hot water. In addition, the district attorney is reportedly considering filing criminal charges against detention officers due to alleged improper actions leading to prisoner deaths.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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Fisher County Jail in Roby, Texas, is Cited for 3 Alleged Violations of Jail Standards

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

English: The old Live Oak County Jail located ...

English: The old Live Oak County Jail located in Oakville, Texas, United States. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 25, 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) conducted an inspection of Fisher County Jail in Roby, Texas. In April 2017, details of their findings were published. TCJS investigators allege that Fisher County Jail violated three jail standards. The purpose of Texas jail standards is to ensure the safety of inmates, staff members, and others who visit the facility. The following is information about the alleged violations Fisher County Jail committed.

  • Each calendar quarter, all members of the jail staff must be trained for emergency situations, including evacuation drills, emergency, and fire drills as well as location and use of equipment. According to TCJS inspectors, who reviewed life safety documentation, no jail staff had participated in quarterly life safety training during the final quarter of 2016.
  • It is required that jails have all life safety equipment inspected, tested, and maintained by individuals who are qualified to do so. The purpose is to ensure that all equipment is secure, fully operative, and safe at all times. When reviewing life safety documentation, inspectors found that the Ansul Hood system was not inspected every six months, which is required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
  • Inspectors also claim that inmates are not getting the supervision required in the kitchen area, which facility staff is supposed to provide during food preparation and/or during the prepping and serving of trays.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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Brooks County Jail is Cited by TCJS for Alleged Jail Standards Violations

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Brooks County Courthouse in Falfurrias, Texas (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The Brooks County Detention Center in Falfurrias, Texas, has been cited by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) for two alleged violations. Details of the jail inspection report are below. Jails have a duty to keep inmates, staff members, and others safe. Specific guidelines are provided, and they help to protect the rights of individuals who are incarcerated. Laws in Texas changed on June 15, 2017, which put additional safeguards in place on behalf of individuals who have been arrested and are mentally disabled and/or potentially suicidal. Those changes are part of the Sandra Bland Act, which is legislation that has been signed into law. It is named after Sandra Bland, who died in Waller County Jail on July 13, 2015. She committed suicide in a jail cell there three days after being arrested for an alleged minor traffic violation and getting into a confrontation with the police officer who pulled her over. Audio and dashcam video captured what happened, and it went viral, creating public outrage across the country.

Because of the new Texas law, jail staff members are required to take new actions on behalf of inmates with mental health issues of some kind, including being at risk for committing suicide. For example, a judge must be informed by the local sheriff’s department within 12 hours when an inmate is potentially mentally disabled or suffering from a mental health problem.

The way jail staff members determine whether inmates are at risk is by following certain intake screening procedures.

According to inspectors with TCJS, Brooks County Jail Mental Health / Suicide Screening Forms were reviewed. Multiple violations were allegedly found in which the supervisor, magistrate and/or mental health authority were not notified as required. Forms showed that no notations were made indicating that any notifications about at-risk inmates had been made by jail staff.

The other alleged violation of jail standards was the Brooks County Jail did not comply with the requirement that the facility be inspected every year by a local fire official.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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Per a Jail Re-Inspection Report, Sutton County Jail in Sonora, Texas, Allegedly Violated Four Standards

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

English: The Courthouse located in Sonora, Tex...

English: The Courthouse located in Sonora, Texas, United States. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 15, 1977. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inspectors with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) released a Jail Re-inspection Report earlier this year that included information about four alleged violations at Sutton County Jail in Sonora, Texas. Jails have a responsibility to meet minimum jail standards. They help to ensure the safety and well-being of inmates, staff members, and visitors. Inmates frequently suffer harm and sometimes succeed in committing suicide, as a result of the failure of a jail’s employees to meet mandatory guidelines.

The following is information about two of the alleged violations of jail standards at Sutton County Jail:

Inspectors with TCJS say that medical files were reviewed, and it was discovered that an inmate had submitted a sick call that was refused by members of the jail staff on April 23, 2017. Notes indicated that the inmate allegedly refused to take medication that had been prescribed by the doctor. As a result, the request made by the inmate to see the doctor was never scheduled. The jail standards dictate that every facility must have and carry out a written plan with regard to inmate medical, dental, and mental services. The plan is to include procedures for regularly scheduled sick calls as well as a prescribed course of action for referral for medical, dental, and mental services.

Another discovery made during inspection of medical files was that the staff at Sutton County Jail was allegedly failing to follow the doctors’ orders with regard to dispensing of medication, which allegedly occurred several times. When questioned, jail staff explained that the inmate involved had been refusing the medication. They failed, however, to log the refusal. They also failed to advise the doctor that the medication was being refused.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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The El Paso County, Texas Jail is Cited Regarding Failure to Provide Required Observations of Inmates

Friday, September 15th, 2017

El Paso courthouse (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) conducted a jail inspection at El Paso County Jail in El Paso, Texas, and cited the jail for one alleged violation. The logs for 30-minute face-to-face observations of inmates in detoxification and holding cells indicated that there were numerous occasions when jail staff  exceeded the time between 30-minute welfare checks by between 1 minute and 55 minutes. The intervals for observing inmates in holding and detox cells are not supposed to exceed every 30 minutes.

Suicides in jail are alarmingly common. In addition, inmates allegedly often experience medical emergencies in jail and yet rarely seem to get immediate care when needed.

Observation is especially important because it can be difficult to gauge when a person feels compelled to hurt or kill himself or herself when incarcerated. Studies done in Texas by the TCJS show that suicide attempts have occurred in as little as 14 minutes after a person has been in custody. Inmates have also been incarcerated for as long as 349 days before attempting suicide. As a result of research, jail suicide is recognized as an “action of opportunity,” and personnel in jails and prisons need to be aware that suicides can occur at any point in time while a person is behind bars.

Officer supervision has been found to be more effective for suicide prevention than video surveillance.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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