Planted Drill Bit Sparks Another Investigation at Texas Prison

Allegations that a Texas corrections officers planted drill bits in an inmate’s cell at a southeast Texas prison has sparked another investigation at the Ramsey Unit in Rosharon, Texas. This is the same Brazoria County prison in which earlier this year four officers were indicted for planting a screwdriver in an inmate’s cell.

This case stems from an inmate letter sent to an East Texas state representative and involves at least one of the same officials accused in the screwdriver planting case.

The prisoner at the center of the claim stated, “They said it wasn’t personal, just doing what they were told to do.”

This investigation is just the latest in a string of troubles at the Ramsey unit when earlier this year a short-lived disciplinary quota system was uncovered which prompted a statewide audit, several demotions, removal of over 600 disciplinary cases, and indictments of four guards.

The Office of the Inspector General confirmed the investigation into the new evidence-planting claim.

This case started in January when inmate Johnny Reyes received a disciplinary write-up after officers allegedly found contraband drill bits in his cell.

“They said they found a yellow bag with drawstring in my locker, which they claim had 3 large drill bits,” Reyes wrote.

An inmate witnessed the planting of contraband and wrote Rep. James White, R-Hillister. The state lawmaker forwarded the matter to the Office of the Inspector General, which opened an investigation.

For prisoners rights’ advocates, the issues at Ramsey highlight the need for more eyes on the prison system.

“Independent oversight would provide transparency and accountability and this would allow for the resolution of various problems that would make the system safer,” said Jennifer Erschabek of Texas Inmate Families Association. “It would be a cost-effective and pro-active approach to avoiding expensive lawsuits.”

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