The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has voided nearly 650 disciplinary actions at four state criminal detention units where authorities had created an inmate violation quota system for guards.
The action came as the result of a statewide audit by the department after it was discovered that guards had planted two screwdrivers in a jail cell W.F. Ramsey Unit in Rosharon — about 40 miles south of Houston — to meet their quota.
As The Texas Monitor reported last week, Criminal Justice has so far accepted the resignation of Maj. Juan Jackson, and fired Lt. James Thomas, Sgts. Marcos Gallegos and Darryll Winston, and Officer George Wolfe in connection with the Ramsey Unit quota scheme. Capt. Reginald Gilbert, who initiated the quota and later ended it, has been demoted.
The department has since wiped out 180 disciplinary reports at the Ramsey Unit. Subsequent investigation required that 373 disciplinary cases that had been filed or were being processed by the McConnell Unit south of San Antonio be tossed out, according to a story by the Houston Chronicle.
Officials at the Travis County State Jail in Austin demoted an unnamed assistant warden, a captain and a sergeant. They also wiped clean 91 disciplinary cases connected to the quota system there, the Chronicle reported.
An unnamed captain was fired and a single disciplinary report thrown out at Lychner State Jail in Atascocita, northeast of Houston.
“Violations of TDCJ policy will not be tolerated and swift action will be taken if any are found,” prison spokesman Jeremy Desel told the Chronicle.
The Chronicle originally revealed the Ramsey Unit quota system last month. Gilbert issued orders in a March 9 email requiring sergeants to write up inmates for at least two incidents of unlawfully storing property in cells each day, “without exception,” or face disciplinary action.
A month later, Gilbert told ranking officers he was cutting the quota in half, and in less than a week announced he was ending the quota system. Warden Virgil McMullen reinforced the decision with an email that read, “We DO NOT and WILL NOT have case quotas on Ramsey Unit. Make sure any and all previous emails regarding case quotas are not being followed. We will follow agency policy.”
Criminal Justice Department officials expanded a Ramsey Unit investigation of the quota to all of the state prison system’s 104 units. The mother of one of the Ramsey Unit inmates alerted the Criminal Justice’s Office of the Inspector General that she believed her son had been set up by guards with planted screwdrivers.
“I’m glad TDCJ knows how unacceptable that practice is and that they should have zero tolerance for it,” Whitmire, D-Houston, told the Chronicle. “We want to hold inmates accountable but we need to make darned sure that there’s not some employees abusing their powers.”
Mark Lisheron can be reached at [email protected].