Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Jail passes another state inspection

Good news for the Harris County jails: They passed another surprise state inspection by a Texas Commission on Jail Standards team last week.

“This certificate of compliance is a direct result of your department’s commitment to excellence and further attests, signifies and demonstrates your department’s dedication and professionalism in maintaining a safe, secure and sanitary facility,” Adan Munoz Jr., the commission’s executive director, wrote in a letter received [Tuesday] by Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

Before passing an inspection last August, the county lockup had failed four of its previous six state inspections. It was also the subject of a U.S. Department of Justice report last year that examined what it called an “alarming” rate of deaths occurring inside the jail.

“This is just the beginning of our efforts to not only stay in compliance with state regulations, but also to use best practices and become a comprehensive model for all urban county jails,” the sheriff said in a released statement.

More here and here. The bad news is they’re still dealing with the feds over issues of inadequate medical and mental health care.

In a January letter obtained by the Houston Chronicle through a public records request, the Justice Department told the county that its 300-page response to the findings had “serious shortcomings.”

The federal government nonetheless suggests that it would rather settle than sue to remedy what it considers civil rights violations.

Christopher Cheng, an attorney with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division told the county in the letter that it would be more productive “to commence negotiating an appropriately tailored resolution to this investigation.”

Terry O’Rourke, first assistant county attorney, said there has been no recent communication between the county and the federal government, but he believes a team of county lawyers will visit Washington, D.C., perhaps in June, in hopes of settling the matter.

Apparently, these findings are based on a 2008 inspection of the jails, so there is room for the Sheriff and the County Attorney to argue that things are different now. We’ll see if they’re successful in getting a settlement agreement when they head north.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.