Both Harrison and Marion counties made the Texas Minimum Jail Standards non-compliance list after inspectors with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards cited their respective jails for minor issues, mainly tied to paperwork.
The counties join 14 other counties on the list, which includes nearby Cass County. Harrison County was cited for a total of four issues; Marion was docked for three; and Cass was hit with six issues.
Cass County Report
Harrison County Report
Marion County Report
“We’re taking all the steps required to try to correct our compliance and get back into compliance fully,” said newly-elected Harrison County Sheriff Brandon “BJ” Fletcher. “A lot of the things we were out of compliance on were just paperwork issues that are luckily easy to correct and hopefully in the foreseeable future we won’t have these issues anymore.”
“As busy as they are in the jail, it’s very easy to overlook something like an initial on a box or something here and there. It’s not that it didn’t get done; it’s just that it didn’t get properly documented,” said Fletcher. “Obviously in our world, if it’s not documented it didn’t happen, so we want to make sure all that’s happening the way it should be happening, and it’s in compliance with what Jail Standards recommends that we do; and hopefully after this one we won’t experience this anymore with this type of stuff. This has been pretty minor, luckily, compared to some, but it’s an infraction that needs to be corrected and it’s our mistake to correct. That being said, the only other thing outside of paperwork was the timer on the restraint chair and we have actually already put that in place and it is up and running, and that will fix that issue.”
Newly-elected Marion County Sheriff David Capps said the department has put measures in place to address their issues as well.
“As far as our jail goes itself, it’s in great condition,” Capps said. “We’ve continued maintenance. We’ve repainted the jail. It’s ongoing stuff. Just the general aspect of the jail itself is in good shape. The part that we fell behind on a little bit was the admin part.”
Capps said the department will report back to the inspector for the next few months to update the Commission on their compliance.
“We’ll be back in good graces,” he said.
For Harrison County, the noncompliance report noted that the review of medication administration records failed to sow that medications are distributed in accordance with written instructions from a physician.
In its response to the jail commission, HCSO advised that all staff members have now been instructed by the administration that when passing medication they must scan the inmate’s arm band and then scan the proper barcode for either the dispense or refusal of medication. Then they are to sign the Medication Administration Record in the medical room.
The Jail Standards Commission additionally noted that during the review of inmate medical records, it was determined that medication for an inmate was stopped after seven days when the medication was prescribed for 10 days by a physician.
To address this issue, HCSO’s medical staff has reviewed the medical protocol set forth by Dr. James Logan and adopted by the jail. Additionally, the administration has instructed the medical staff as to the importance of properly documenting and following the physician’s orders to that the medication is dispensed as ordered.
The third issue for Harrison County noted that restraint chair logs indicated staff exceeded the required 15 minute observation checks by one to 22 minutes on multiple occasions.
To correct the problem, HCSO has now changed the restraint chair log by adding a bar code to be scanned. This will be scanned every 15 minutes. HCSO has also implemented a 15-minute timer to be used only for the restraint chair, so that the observation checks will be done on time.
The fourth and final citation was there was no documented face-to-face observation of inmates housed on the fourth floor of the main jail facility on the day of inspection and there was not documentation of face-to-face observations for the period of Nov. 1, 2020, to Dec. 15, 2020.
HCSO has since taken measures to correct this. The administration advised that staff members have been instructed that they are to do face-to-face observation at least once every 60 minutes on the fourth floor.
The staff has also been advised that all checks are to be punctual every time.
The rigorous jail inspection took two full days for Harrison County.
“They’re very in depth,” Sheriff Fletcher said, describing how the inspection involves day-long meetings and examination of files.
“You never know what they’re going to ask for. It could be something different every visit,” he said. “And just like anything else, unfortunately, there’s so much to it, so many moving parts that every now and then we miss one and they found where we missed a couple and we’re going to fix it.”
Sheriff Fletcher commended HCSO jail administrator Capt. John Hain on his performance, operating two jail facilities.
“Captain Hain actually has been bragged on via Jail Standards by the state,” said Fletcher. “I’ve had everybody under the sun that’s had to work with him say he has got to be the most knowledgeable jail administrator they’ve ever met. And I agree with that.
“He is good from everything, from knowing the jail floors to fixing the IT (integrated technology) problems. There’s nothing he can’t do.”
Sheriff Fletcher said Hain, who has been with the department for 30 years, is a loyal employee and hopes he continues to serve in his capacity for years to come.
“I don’t know of anybody else who could do a better job as a jail administrator than Captain Hain,” said Fletcher. “He’s proven himself time and time again and when these jail standards people talk sometimes about things that I don’t know, due to his experience he can relate to them and know exactly what they’re talking about. He’s watched those eras change over the years. He knows how it used to be and how it is and everything about it, so it makes him a very valuable tool to the sheriff’s office.”
And Hain stays on top of it when it comes to addressing jail standard issues such as in this case.
“We’ll get it fixed and we’ll get back in shape,” said Fletcher.
For Marion County, the noncompliance report noted that MCSO staff members who had not completed the required four hours of classification training are performing classification duties.
Sheriff Capps said the department had two new jailers that hadn’t taken the class, at the time, due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
“They were new jailers hired on,” he explained. “I don’t want to blame everything on COVID, but with COVID, it’s hard to get some of these classes done, but now we were able to find an online class, and actually all of our jailers went to it.”
All jailers took the class again just to stay on top of things.
“Even though they were still current, we had everybody go through and take it again,” said MCSO jail administrator Sheila Stokes.
“We went above and beyond there because I want to make sure that everything is in order; and, if it’s not, it’s brought to my attention and we’ll take care of it immediately,” Sheriff Capps said.
“We have 30 people that we are in care and custody of that we want to make sure they’re taken care of,” he said.
The second issue inspectors noted concerned an annual audit. The plan shall provide that an annual, internal audit shall be conducted on the classification system. Audit records shall be maintained for Commission review.
The inspector noted that an annual audit of the classification system was not conducted, however, and audit records were not available for Commission review.
“Our facility is small compared to most; and the paperwork, it hadn’t been done yet,” Stokes explained.
Capps said MCSO has now corrected the error by implementing monthly records instead of annual.
“Now we’ve amended that and we’re doing that monthly, so instead of once a year when the next time comes around for this, we will have that available,” he said. “So, it’s just tinkering some things and now we know a little bit more out of what they’re expecting and we got it done.”
According to the last strike, during the inspection it was noted that documentation provided failed to show that inmates are allowed one hour of supervised recreation at least three days per week.
“What happened is, they were given rec (on a daily basis throughout the week) and not note it; it wasn’t logged down,” said Capps. “So now I said let’s get away from that, let’s do a uniform Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, you log it those days. So now you’re expected, those days, we’re going to have rec, so if you want it or not that’s up to you, but we’re doing our paperwork on those days and then we’re not just picking a day where we might forget to do the paperwork. So it’s uniform and it’s accountability there.”
The jail inspection at Marion County was a day long. Sheriff Capps noted he’s pleased with the overall inspection and thankful they’re able to quickly address the minor issues.
“It wasn’t a major thing where we’ve got a bunch of stuff going on down at the Marion County Jail,” he said. “We have a clean jail and we respect the inmates that are here and we want to make sure they have a clean, safe environment while they’re here.”
Capps said it had been about a year since the jail had an inspection due to the pandemic. Surprise inspections are conducted annually, however, which the sheriff said he appreciates.
“I’d rather for it to be a surprise, actually, because I want to know if we’re failing somewhere so we can get that corrected,” he said. “The state does that for that reason.
“We’ve got a wonderful group of employees here,” Capps said.
According to TCJS, counties will be removed immediately from the list upon attaining compliance.