Sunday, September 2, 2012

Catching the chain to go “next door” - a long strange trip

Segregation by gender not the norm at CEC

Waco - When female inmates are told they will “catch the chain,” it means they will be transferred from the McLennan County Jail on Highway 6 to a lockup next door that is operated by CEC, Inc.

“It's always some time after midnight,” according to an inmate, “but it can take from 18 to 24 hours to get there.”

First, you are sent to a holding cell where you wait to “chain up,” a process of shackling wrists and ankles to a chain that leads from the belly to the ankles, then to the wrists, where each inmate is cuffed to the woman next to her.

The resulting transfer is a walk of only a few hundred feet.

Allthis takes place on weekends, when the county jail fills with “weekenders” satisfying sentences served from Friday night to Sunday.(click the hyperlink for a report on why)

The difference in the staff at the Jack Harwell Detention Center run by CEC and the McLennan County Jail next door is profound.

“At Jack Harwell, they are all ghetto, the majority are African American...street language, vulgar. I think it's dehumanizing they way they talk to anyone. You know, jail lingo is a language all its own.”

Male trusties roam the corridors of the dormitories, their genitals at times exposed, often in the act of masturbation, while female inmates watch through the slit windows in the steel doors of the tanks.

“It's a mutual thing. The women often expose their breasts.

“Especially at Highway 6, they communicate through the walls and through the toilets. People actually stick their heads, their faces, down into the toilets – and they talk.”

After an assignation has been arranged, the women press the intercom button in the cell, and someone in the control center unlocks the door remotely, allowing the inmate access to the corridor. From there, they are allowed to slip away as a couple.

“Or, they might be assisted out of the cell. If the lesbian guards come to get them, they unlock the door and - disappear.”

According to a staff member – who spoke on condition on anonymity - “Did you know, a female inmate at CEC was pulled into a closet and raped by a male trusty. County investigators dismissed the charge because they said it was consensual. Really?”

Asked if the alleged perpetrator was named, the reply was “Don't know. Female stayed at CEC. Male came to us, but was kept quiet. Females have complained to investigators about males wandering the halls exposing themselves. Families should call the news...”

TheLegendary - How are males allowed to roam the halls and exposethemselves? I thought all inmates had to be segregated by gender asto sight and sound. Sounds like something is wrong, there. for the minority report)

“Apparently, according to the some females, if you hit the intercom button after midnight, the person in the control room will open the door. According to them, males and sometimes females wander the halls often. There are cameras in the the halls, so you would think they would be seen and stopped.

Otherareas of continuing tension include shakedowns of the tanks forsewing machine needles, which are used to give prison tattoos usingink improvised from ball point pens. Works in progress are concealed with plastic trash bags tightly bound around the area that is under development.(click)

Toilet paper is rationed to 1 roll per prisoner per week, and there is a limit of 15 sanitary pads per lunar period per inmate, strictly enforced. Spotting? Abnormally high flow? Mother, may I...etc.

Razor blades taken from disposable razors, letters from other inmates, sexually explicit or gang-related, are often the subject of scrutiny, and the names of individuals – computer generated – are chosen at random for a shakedown of personal property.

“Often times at Jack Harwell, guards and inmates are related. African Americans are allowed out of their cells to have a 'home girl' braid their hair – any time.” Touché!

White women don't have the same privileges. 


  1. I thought the new and improved contract that Commissioners Court negoitated in July made the price tag per prisoner $50 a day. Looks like our prisoners are getting a lot of bang for their buck. It's no wonder this place can't pass a state inspection, and why the current Sheriff refuses to go out there to inspect them, he might get raped by wondering trustees.

    As a taxpayer, I'm appalled, and I have to wonder what possible sane reason outgoing County Judge Jim Lewis could have for recommending to Commissioners Court that we put the county run jail under the supervision of CEC. I wouldn't trust CEC to let my dog out into the yard while under my supervision, much less trust them with actual lives, be the prisoners or not. They are still humans and sound like they are living under the conditions in war torn Africa and the Middle East.

  2. So I am to understand that these things have gone on and continue to go on under the Sheriff's nose. Does hi bi-monthly inspections not turn up events like these? Oh I forget, his inspections are mostly confined to maintenance issues in a 2 year old building. I notice I never hear about all those maintenance issues at the other jails, but then they weren't built with foundation problems from the moment it was poured.

    As much as I would hate to pay the taxes on this, I think that Commissioners should seriously consider biting the bullet and kicking CEC out before CEC gets the county caught in a huge lawsuit and walks away leaving the county to pay the bill, pay CEC, and pay the lawsuit. Whoever signed off on this deal should be held criminally responsible for this con on the people of McLennan County. According to Texas Law, the only person who could sign off on this would be the Sheriff, Larry "Shifty" Lynch.