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Carson County Jail Fails Inspection

Jan 2nd, 2010 | Category: Carson County

The Carson County jail failed a recent state inspection, and county officials have been given 30 days to correct a list of problems.
Adan Munoz, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, said when the jail was inspected Oct. 29, a state official found it wasn’t in compliance with several minimum state standards. The commission is charged with overseeing county jails.

According to the inspection report, the jail had too many inmates in its facility; it failed to provide inmates supervised physical exercise; it didn’t provide mandatory training for its employees for emergency situations; and failed to have a written fire prevention plan.

Carson County Sheriff Tam Terry was unavailable for comment Friday afternoon. His staff deferred comment to him. But in an e-mail earlier this week, Terry said his staff was working to address the deficiencies. He said steps have been taken to provide the mandatory training for employees and to implement a fire prevention plan.

The jail is part of the courthouse building in Panhandle.

Munoz said Friday that the jail is not allowed to exceed 18 inmates, but the state inspector found at times it had upward of 24.

He said when a jail exceeds population limits, there are often multiple inmates in cells designed to hold just one. One result is a lack of beds, requiring inmates to sleep on the floor.

In his e-mail, Terry said the jail has 24 beds but doesn’t have enough single cells. “We have kept the jail population down by paying to house some of our inmates in other counties. … We will continue to do whatever is necessary to keep the number low.”

Munoz said the inspector also found no documentation that the jail had provided inmates physical activity since September 2008.

He said the state requires all inmates “get some sunshine” an hour a day, three days a week.

Terry, who’s a member of the Commission on Jail Standards, said providing inmates with physical activity has “always been an issue for us because we don’t have a secure place for the inmates to exercise except in their cells. Exercising in the cell is something that the inmates are always allowed to do, but it is something that is awkward to document.”

To comply, he said, “my staff is now asking each inmate three times per week if they want to get up and exercise and documenting their response.”

Munoz said once Carson County submits its plan to correct the jail deficiencies, and is given time to implement the plan, inspectors will return to make sure it’s in compliance.

By Janelle Stecklein

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