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County jail passes inspection ‘with flying colors’
by Gary Kent
May 27, 2009 | 1428 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bee County Sheriff Carlos Carrizales, Jr.
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“It’s a wonderful thing,” Bee County Judge David Silva said about the recent report card from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards concerning the Bee County Jail.

“We passed with flying colors. The man (George H. Johnson of the TCJS) was very complimentary,” Silva said. “He was happy with the treatment of the inmates, the food we serve...”

“Some sheriffs brag that they feed their inmates on 23 cents a day,” the judge said. “But you ought to hear the complaints they get.”

Probably no one was happier with the report last week than Bee County Sheriff Carlos Carrizales, Jr. and his jail superintendent, Commander Mike Page.

“He looked at the construction, the life safety, the supervisors and staff, checked all 13 officers to see that they were TCLOSE certified, checked on sanitation and personal hygiene and interviewed the staff and inmates,” Carrizales said.

“For a jail this size, it takes a good hard day to inspect the facility to see that we’re in compliance,” Page commented.

The inspection entails much more than a walk through the facility.

“He flushes every commode, turns on every hot and cold water faucet and turns on every shower,” Page stressed.

Carrizales said Johnson has been inspecting the jail for some time now and has said it is always a pleasure to visit Bee County’s facilities.

Johnson is thorough in his inspection of the food service facilities, for example. He pays strict attention to the diets for diabetics, reviews all documentation, looks at inmate discipline and inmate grievance procedures and closely checks the exercise facilities.

“He sees to it that inmates are getting exercise,” the sheriff said.

The inspection includes a tour of the education facilities, the library, work assignments for trusties in the mail.

Carrizales said the library receives high marks because of the efforts of people like Sara Dunn and others who donate plenty of magazines and books to the jail.

Chief Deputy Alden Southmayd pointed out that the periodic inspections also include reviews of the telephone policies and scheduling, correspondence, commissary, visitation and religious practices policies.

Page said the jail’s care system also is reviewed closely. That includes visits to the jail nurse and Mental Health and Mental Retardation assistance.

“He literally goes through medical files,” Page said.

“He also tests the generators to see that they are working properly,” Page said. “They’re pretty thorough about this.”

“When he gets done with the inspection, he’ll meet with myself and the county judge to go over his report,” Carrizales said.

One of the staff members who always earns high marks on the inspections is jail maintenance superintendent Dennis Vasquez.

“For a 20-year-old jail, Johnson said this one looks like it’s only five years old,” Carrizales said.

The sheriff and Page said the better meals and liberal recreation policies help keep down assaults between inmates and on staff members.

Page, a veteran officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system, said that if inmates do not behave, their recreation time is reduced.

Discipline is important at the jail. The building houses about 128 inmates at one time, about 40 of whom are federal prisoners and the other 88 are state and local inmates.

The jail also has the capacity to house about a dozen female inmates.

“They’ve always been willing to help us,” Carrizales said of the commission.

“It’s a pleasure to talk with them the way they help us,” Page added.

“George said he likes to come here because things are done right,” Page said. “It makes his job easier.”

“They’re not out there to shut jails down,” Carrizales said. “They are there to see that jails are run correctly and will work with jails to help them correct problems.”

“Bee County is fortunate to have the staff we have,” she sheriff said. “Bee County couldn’t get that kind of report if it weren’t for those hard-working men and women doing their jobs here.”

Silva agreed with the sheriff, Page and the jail staff.

“The federal marshals like the Bee County Jail,” he said. “We maintain about 40 federal prisoners here, they’re fed well, they have television and they are treated well by the staff. They know they need to be in jail,” the judge said of the inmates, “and that’s that.”
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