A lawsuit filed against the Corrections Corporation of America in Austin alleges the private prison company violated a former prisoner's constitutional rights by allowing a hazing tradition called "ass on the glass" that led to a sexual assault.
The suit, filed in federal district court, claims a Bartlett State Jail guard knowingly allowed the man, referred to as John Doe in the court documents, and more than 50 other prisoners to be subjected to the hazing tradition that involves forcibly stripping an individual, turning him upside down and slamming his buttocks against the glass of a guard's station.
During a two-hour incident last October in which all 55 prisoners in the cell block were subjected to the hazing, a prisoner allegedly "inserted his finger into Mr. Doe's anus, and another grabbed his testicles, sexually assaulting him in violation of the Texas Penal Code," according to the documents.
The defendant claims that the one officer on duty, responsible for four cell blocks with 55 prisoners in each, "watched dozens of men get slammed up against the glass wall" and "did nothing." ...
The Bartlett State Jail, a men's prison, is located in Williamson County and has 140 security employees and a capacity of 1,049 inmates, according to the TCDJ.
Of course, for now these are only allegations, but they're certainly disturbing ones. If they're true, it makes you wonder about a) the effectiveness of TDCJ contract monitoring with private prisons and b) whether Corrections Corporation of America's recently announced commitment to preventing recidivism and reentry programs could possibly jibe with the organization's historic institutional culture.
In the meantime, add the Bartlett State Jail to the list of facilities the Legislature might consider shuttering if they decide to close more prisons. If its institutional culture was tolerating this, it's hard to imagine staff there will suddenly shift toward a rehabilitation mindset. Better to just end the contract and cut bait.
MORE: From Texas Prison Bidness.