TYC Investigates Deplorable Conditions in a Juvenile Corrections Facility

For most people, prison is a dreaded destination because of its lack of freedom, isolation from friends and family, and forced terms of stay. In fact, that’s kind of the point of prison – to deter people from committing crimes, and to punish those who do.

But at one Texas Youth Commission (TYC) facility in Coke County, inmates had to deal with much more than a regimented meal schedule. In fact, reports from the Dallas Morning News indicate that conditions were so bad the TYC may launch a criminal investigation into The GEO Group, the company that ran the Coke County facility.

The case is perplexing: in 1999 and 2005, the Coke County juvenile facility was named “best contract facility of the year,” according to reports. Yet when investigators from TYC visited the facility in September, they reportedly noted that the conditions showed months, if not years, of neglect.

So how bad was this prison for underage criminals? Pretty bad.

Apparently, investigators noted that fear and intimidation tactics were employed regularly, inmates had limited access to showers and toothpaste, sewers were backed up, clothes and mattresses were dirty and damp, and bugs appeared frequently in food.

To make matters worse, complaints were almost impossible to file, since phone service was erratic and inmates were rarely let out of their cells, sources say.

According to the Morning News, the facility received attention from the TYC in the fall of last year when a 19-year-old inmate hanged himself in his cell. And the resulting investigation has proven shocking.

TYC officials have allegedly claimed they suspect wrongdoing at all levels of the facility’s operation, including the financial level. This suspicion comes after examination of the reports from the four-person monitoring team of TYC employees.

The full-time employees in charge of checking and approving the conditions at the Coke County facility had consistently given at least satisfactory ratings, according to reports. Their main concerns were allegedly the safety and well-being of inmates.

The latest reports from Texas indicate that the TYC plans to investigate a possible financial link between GEO and the TYC monitors-a link that, if found, would be considered highly inappropriate, and would explain the glowing reviews given to the prison’s conditions over the past several years.

Additionally, the TYC plans to begin a sweeping investigation of all its contract-run prisons and halfway homes, sources say. They have reportedly canceled their contract with GEO and transferred all inmates from the Coke County facility elsewhere.

Hopefully, the conditions found at Coke County’s juvenile prison are not revealed elsewhere during the TYC’s investigation. Otherwise, there may be a lot of convicted criminals getting back in touch with their criminal defense attorneys.