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Private prison that houses Tarrant County inmates has fixed most violations, state says

 Tarrant County resident Josh Lucas speaks to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards about conditions at the Tarrant County Jail on Aug. 3, 2023.
Miranda Suarez
Tarrant County resident Josh Lucas speaks to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards about conditions at the Tarrant County Jail on Aug. 3, 2023.

Most of the problems the state found at a West Texas private prison have been fixed, but not all, according to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS).

All the prisoners at the Giles W. Dalby Correctional Facility in Garza County come from Tarrant and Harris counties, which pay tens of millions of dollars to use Dalby as an overflow facility for local jails.

TCJS inspectors found jailers at Dalby missed regular checks on prisoners and didn’t attend safety training. Required documentation was missing. One person who needed a higher level of medical care got released without being transferred anywhere.

The violations meant Dalby officials were required to go to Austin on Thursday for a TCJS meeting, where TCJS Executive Director Brandon Wood said Dalby has resolved five out of its six violations.

One problem remains: In 10 cases, staff did not give the proper 24-hour written notice to inmates accused of a violation.

The jail inspector has requested two to four more weeks’ worth of records about that issue, Wood said.

“We want to ensure that that corrective plan of action has taken hold, and they do not experience any more violations before placing them back in compliance,” he said.

After that, Dalby can request a reinspection, Wood said.

The facility was bound to have some problems, because it only opened as a county jail 14 months ago, Dalby official Jon Luna told TCJS members.

“We were certain that they were going to find a couple things coming in, as we were a brand-new facility getting launched,” Luna said. "We tried to do the best that we could."

Staff “worked very diligently and proactively trying to regain compliance,” he said.

Dalby is owned by the private prison company Management & Training Corporation, which operated Dalby as a federal prison until 2022, when the Bureau of Prisons did not renew the contract.

Upon reopening as a county jail, Harris and Tarrant counties started to send local prisoners to Dalby. Like Dalby, Harris County’s jail system is currently out of compliance with the state’s minimum standards.

Tarrant County elected officials and staff told KERA they were never informed the Dalby facility was out of compliance.

KERA reached out to MTC spokesperson Emily Lawhead on Jan. 23 and again on Thursday to ask if the company ever informed its partners the jail did not meet minimum standards.

List of violations

In December, TCJS found Dalby violated six minimum jail standards, outlined in a public notice of non-compliance and summarized here:

  1. Despite needing a higher level of medical care than Dalby could provide, one inmate never got transferred anywhere and was released from custody more than a month later without the recommended care.  

  • Staff missed mandatory safety training for events like fire drills. In the first quarter of 2023, no staff got training. In the third quarter of 2023, 88 out of 111 staff members missed training.  
  • Jailers are expected to check on the people in their care no less than once an hour, and once every half hour “in areas where inmates are known to be assaultive, potentially suicidal, mentally ill, or have demonstrated bizarre behavior.” Dalby jailers were late on 42% of checks reviewed by TCJS.  
  • Jails are supposed to document when they restrain someone in custody, and check on the restrained person every 15 minutes. Dalby could not produce five hours of that documentation. 
  • People in jail are supposed to get a 24-hour written notice about any claimed violations. In at least 10 disciplinary cases, staff did not give that notice.  
  • Jail administrators could not provide logs to show that incarcerated people were getting their required three days of recreation. 
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    Miranda Suarez