State cites Van Zandt County Jail on 2 violations

State cites Van Zandt County Jail on 2 violations
20-year-old Leo Santiago Chavez convicted. (Source: Raycom images)

VAN ZANDT COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - The Van Zandt County Jail is in violation of Texas Commission on Jail Standards guidelines and rules concerning the use of restraint chairs and inmate workers preparing meals without supervision.

According to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards jail inspection report from Jan. 25, “a review of restraint chair logs indicated staff exceeded the required 15-minute observation checks by 1 to 17 minutes on multiple occasions.”

The report cited a TCJS standard which states that inmates who are behaving in a way that is dangerous to themselves or others can be retrained to minimize the threat of injury or harm. It also says that restraints must be used in a human manner and not as a punishment.

The standard goes on to say that jail staff members are required to check on an inmate in a restraint chair at a minimum of every 15 minutes. Jail staff members are required to check the security of the restraints and whether the inmates getting proper circulation in their arms and legs.

The second violation listed stated that “inmate workers in the kitchen were observed to be preparing inmate meal trays without immediate staff supervision.”

The TCJS standard states that food should only be prepared under the supervision of a staff member or a contract employee. It also says that food may only be served under the immediate supervision of a jail staff member.

Van Zandt County Sheriff Steve Hendrix said the inspection on Jan. 25 came just three weeks after he took over as the Van Zandt County sheriff.

“We’re still in the process of developing procedures and making the necessary changes,” Hendrix said. “I’m confident that we’ll be found compliant when the state re-inspects our jail.”

Hendrix said his jail staff members use the Guard One system to check jail cells and restraint chairs when they go on their regular walk-throughs of the jail. He explained they have a handheld device that scans a code, and it turns out that sheriff’s office wifi did not extend throughout the entire jail at the time of the inspection. He added that the wifi issue has since been corrected.

Regarding the complaint about inmate food workers serving food without staff supervision, Hendrix said the staff supervisor had stepped away for a moment when the TCJS inspector came through.

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