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Cameron Co. Jail Out of Compliance with State Standards

6 months 1 week 14 hours ago Wednesday, November 27 2019 Nov 27, 2019 November 27, 2019 6:47 PM November 27, 2019 in News - Local

BROWNSVILLE – The Cameron County jail is out of compliance with state standards, according to the notice sent by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The Cameron County Sheriff's Office, who manages the jail, says they already have a plan in place.

The notice followed the annual inspection carried out by TCJS inspectors. This time, they found four issues in Cameron County.

Chief Deputy Gustavo Reyna of the Cameron County Sheriff's Office says they manage a large system, comparatively.

"We have four jails compared to Hidalgo County, but the rules apply the same," Reyna says.

TCJS found a missing fire panel at the Carrizales-Rucker facility. Chief Deputy Reyna says the ordered part was delayed in arriving, but assures it was installed Wednesday and already functioning.

Deeper issues were also noted in the annual report.

Inspectors found jailers were not conducting face-to-face observation of inmates. It's an important safety measure requiring constant vigilance every 30 or 60 minutes depending on the kind of cell.

In July 2019, an inmate was killed by another inmate just an hour after he was placed in his cell. It's part of the two custodial deaths reported to the Texas Attorney General's Office this year.

Cameron County Sheriff's Office sergeants and lieutenants recently met to talk about making improvements.

Deputy Chief Reyna says, “We have set up alarm systems to notify the officer that they have to do their inspection of the face-to-face with the inmate and documentation is essential and it’s been taken care of.”

The notice of non-compliance also listed problems with giving inmates daily access to the "day room" and improving sanitation practices at the jails.

The Cameron County Sheriff's Office sent their required corrective plan of action to the TCJS Wednesday morning. Texas Commission on Jail Standards confirmed to CHANNEL 5 NEWS they received the letter via email at 12:08 p.m. Wednesday.

TCJS Executive Director Brandon Wood explained the process continues. He says, "We then continue to monitor their plan to make sure that they are following it and that the areas of non-compliance are no longer present. They are then told that they can request a re-inspection that can be conducted on-site unannounced or done administratively."

First, their staff will be inspecting the letter to make sure it addresses all four issues their inspectors found out of compliance.

The inspection was carried out as per their annual requirement. However, Wood says inspections can be triggered by escapes, critical incidents and deaths in custody.

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