Thursday, April 24, 2014

Five Harris County jailers accused of contraband smuggling

More problems with guards smuggling contraband into the Harris County Jail. Reported James Pinkerton at the Houston Chronicle ("Firing of 5th jail guard raises alarm," April 23):
On Wednesday, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia announced charges against [Branden] Paez, 20, of Spring, the fifth civilian jailer charged in recent months with bringing a variety of contraband into the Harris County jail system. Paez, charged with bringing contraband into a correctional facility, had been on the job 13 months when Garcia fired him in September.

The charges against Paez and the other four jailers raise questions about the screening process used by Garcia to hire the 1,300 full-time and part-time civilian jailers, who along with 165 deputies guard nearly 9,000 inmates in the county's jails. ...

In addition to Paez, The four Harris County civilian jailers recently arrested were:
  • Lauren N. Sandefer, 25, charged April 14 with smuggling tobacco and vodka into the jail and allowing an inmate to use her cellphone.
  • Dominique Duncan, 23, charged Feb. 12 with possession of controlled substance with intent to deliver prescription painkillers to inmates.
  • Gertudis A. Reyes, 21, also charged in February with smuggling tobacco into the jail.
  • Tamara Bundage, 26, of Brookshire, sentenced in March to 15 days in jail and probation for smuggling tobacco and two cellphones into the jail.
The arrests of county jailers are not the only recent embarrassing charges brought against Garcia's employees.

In March, a veteran deputy on a game room task force was fired, accused of stealing money he seized during a raid.
The deputies union blames the trend on low pay, with union president Robert Goerlitz declaring, "I hate to say it but we're kind of getting what we pay for." But low pay doesn't automatically equate to sub-par ethics. Perhaps bigger issues are failed employment screening and inadequate supervision. One does notice the corrupted jailers are mostly young folks - aged 20-26 - though the deputy on the game room task force who allegedly stole seized money was described as a "veteran."

Also, the sentences described were relatively light compared to some handed down to family members accused of conspiring to smuggle contraband into correctional facilities. But at least they were fired and not put on probationary status as sometimes happens with COs at Texas' adult prisons.


DEWEY said...

And I thought that is was the prisoner's families that were bringing the contraband in !! (Insert sarcasm here.)

Anonymous said...

Higher salaries will prevent corruption? Pfffftt!

THE highest paid Harris county deputy was convicted of protecting drug dealers, so that theory goes out the door.