Gregg County Jail's problematic past

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - 11:31am

The Gregg County Jail has problems…several of them. And the latest incidents are only the most recent of a spate of mistakes and misbehavior at the jail.

A week after a prisoner dies in custody, a gun is found on another prisoner as he is booked into the jail.
And this isn’t the first time either prisoner safety, or security have been a problem for the facility.

The State of Texas has no established guidelines or rules when it comes to the health of inmates in county jails. In fact, from 2005 top 2009, 500 inmates died in the custody of the 2564 sheriff’s departments I the state.

282 were due to an illness contracted either before or after they were locked up.

6 of those who died from illness in that 4 year period were in the Gregg County Jail.

Gregg County is now in non-compliance with the state as a result of the death on Christmas Eve death of Amy Lynn Cowling.

And Saturday, 19-year-old DeMichael Johnson was being booked into the jail, when a loaded revolver was found on him, a gun that had been missed by arresting officers. Those arresting officers were from the Longview Police.

In the Summer of 2009, a convicted felon escaped when he was being unloaded from a squad car in the sallyport of the jail.

Another prisoner that July, was released by mistake…

In the spring of 2009, two men escaped from the jail by hiding in a trash bin. One was a convicted murderer.

Two jailers were arrested for helping them escape.

This October, seven jail employees were fired for misusing tasers.

A month earlier, four others were fired for exchanging prescription drugs at the jail.

It’s been a rough few years for the Gregg County Jail, and these new incidents seem to indicate the safety and security of the jail and its prisoners are still open questions.

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