Thursday, February 21, 2013

Highway 6 Jail not in jail standards compliance

Staff to inmate ratio grossly violated – guard
Sacked for cussing his boss, he tells it like it is

Former Corrections Officer Justin Spears
Waco – Jail officials at the sprawling Highway 6 jail complex are so desperate to make do with a limited budget in a department crippled by a huge debt service, they constantly move prisoners.

When jail standards inspectors visit from Austin, said Justin Spears, a corrections officer with a spotless 7-year record who was fired for cussing out a corporal this week, jail honchos at the McLennan County Sheriff's Office move administrative officers from the front office, into the jail. That makes the ratio appear to be acceptable.

Acceptable to what they are told,” said Mr. Spears. “You can't run a wing when they pull employees to work other areas or you have other things to do.”

When the inspectors are there, “As far as fudging numbers they move people around like crazy. I haven't seen them load up busses. I know when jail commission there. The act starts and they have guards from up front come to the wings to help run inmates around like they are supposed to so four guards can stay in the wing,but after they leave, that's over. It's accepted up there to leave the wing. It's normal for one person to be there. It's just how it is. It's certainly one of the most unstructured place I've ever seen, and when I started, I expected it to be structured, but CEC (Civigencics, Inc.) is worse, LOL.”

At normal times, there is one guard to every 196 men housed in a wing of the Highway 6 Jail, said Mr. Spears.

He also revealed that when corrections officers take a smoke break, regulations require them to leave the property completely. They drive around, their only contact with supervisors through radios. They are segregated by sight and sound from their actual responsibilities, and are actually completely off premises while officially still on duty.

Wait till they get in a wreck. Explain that one.”

Privately employed commissary attendants are often left in corridors alone with inmates returning from a visitation room.

Inmates are locked into GED classrooms with a civilian instructor. Though officers have a key, they are without direct access to protect the employee from prisoners who have plastic ball point pens furnished by the administration.

Them pencils would hurt you by there self.”

This is a transcript of the entire interview, conducted by Facebook text messages over Mr. Spears' cell phone.

What happened, Justin? What are you talking about? Seven years?
I lost my temper at work and cussed out a cpl pretty bad so they fired me.
A corporal. Are you a police officer, Justin? - The Legendary
I work at the or did lol at the county jail. I just let it get the better of me
T'is a morbid place, Justin, fraught with peril and very dangerous, to say the least. I am not happy to hear of your misfortune, but - you know - it could be the best thing that ever happened to you. Think about that. They may have done you a favor. - The Legendary
I'm happy. I've became over weight, drink to much, energy drinks, anxiety attacks, ready for my health and life back I've never seen people like that at a job or a more miss managed place in my life.
I know several ex-turnkeys - guys who traded up and became peace officers, investigators, undercover officers. I think it's too dangerous a line of work for what they pay. Get bitten, scratched, you're toast if the person is infected. TB is rampant in jails, then there's the ever-present threat of smoke inhalation. It's no picnic. How long did you work there? - T.L.
Care to elaborate on your experiences?
Seven years no write ups or problems
Wow. One little cuss fight and you lost your job? What did you tell the old boy?
It was bad. I cussed him out like I was a inmate. Its my fault. It was a build up of frustration.
Knowing the problem is half the battle, Justin. It takes a pretty well-adjusted person to know that - and admit it.
That place is a train wreck. There is never enough guards around to do what you need to do.
And yet their inmate to staff ratio is acceptable to Jail Standards. What kind of problems do you run into?
Acceptable to what they are told. You can't run a wing when they pull employees to work other areas or you have other things to do
Does that leave the inmates unsupervised? I think I might know what you mean. I've heard hints of this before.
Yea. I liked your interview with oh county commissioner mashek that was good
That was you correct
That was off subject but I know you have heard all this before.
I was the person you didn't see. You could hear me making some remarks and asking questions. The man you could see is R.S. Gates. He started off as a police officer at Hewitt, moved to being a turnkey, and wound up working for Truman Simon until Lynch took over. Then he quit. But he worked narcotics, C.S.I., dope dogs, stuff like that. - Jim
Joe Mashek showed every indication that he would stand up to the clique. He asked me if I could get him inside one of my video cameras, and I said yeah, all sizes fit. So I asked him for an interview and he thought it over awhile. What happened truly amazed me - and a lot of other people. - Jim
You still there? Guess it's past your bed time. Sleep tight, Justin. Good luck... - The Legendary
Was phone .haller at you later
Okey dokey. I want to continue this conversation some time. - Jim
I'm up ask away Well just message anytime. Take care
You got it amigo
You there, Justin?
Yesterday, you said you can't run a wing when they pull guys to go somewhere else, or you have other things to do. What does that mean? Does it goof up the inmate to staff ratio? How many officers are left on the job in that wing? How does it handicap procedures? Most important, how does it affect the safety and security of inmates and corrections officers?
OK you will have visiting going on they are out in a visiting room they walk back to there tanks. Well commissary lady is in run passing out stuff threw the bean chute. Well inmates are out visiting they walk back. I walked out there before three inmates out with her by herself.
Not good. Commissary lady is a private employee?
Yes sir
She could be taken hostage, her goods used as contraband, and the situation out of hand in a short, no?
I've worked there seven years and the GED teacher goes into a room by herself with doors that lock if they shut. Room has a phone they all have plastic pencils. No guard in there.
Do you have a key to get in there if she needs you?
When guards go smoke they actually leave the jail to go smoke and drive there car around the loop while at work.ridiculous
You can make plastic pencil into a shank with a Bic razor blade? Just like toothbrush?
Yea there is a key
It wouldn't take long to hurt the teacher or one another while you hunt someone with the key, though?
Are these the things you and the Cpl cussed each other over?
Them pencils would hurt you by there self
True story.
I cussed him cause stuff like this was going on and I was frustrated and he told me we need to handle more stuff our selfs. Just pissed me off cause its like what more do they want us to do. I just got tired of it all. To much movement and things going on at once.
Understood. So, did they ever give you a substantial raise from what they paid for a starting wage? How about health benefits? Scott&White? Is it true they load up buses and drive around during counts to fudge the numbers for inmate to staff ratio during weekends when they have a lot of overflow prisoners?
You get pretty big raise after first six months. But that's about it health deal is what it is always changing. As far as fudging numbers they move people around like crazy.I haven't seen them load up busses. I know when jail commission is there. The act starts and they have guards from up front come to the wings to help run inmates around like they are supposed to so four guards can stay in the wing but after they leave that's over. Its accepted up there to leave the wing it's normal for one person to be there its just how it is.its certainly one of the most unstructured places I've ever seen and when I started I expected it to be structured but cec is worse LOL.
Tell me about CEC.
I don't know a lot. inmates seem to like it. I hear stuff like they get smokes and run panels for the doors but if true I don't no
Who fired you? Kollinek? (Capt. John Kollinek, Jail Supervisor)
I guess I was wrong I'm not fighting it. I'm happy being gone.I guess its his decision
So one C/O when 4 is what's supposed to be on duty per wing. Did Cawthon (Chief Deputy Matt Cawthon) talk to you about this?
Trustees wing 96 inmates in one building two guards in there with them. There will be one guard out there a lot
How about if they opened up the downtown jail? Would those 300+ bunks make much difference?
Cawthon was there they asked if I wanted to say anything I said no. I cussed him bad it wasn't good.
I see. So you figure they will indicate misconduct on your part if you try to file for unemployment?
196 in wing divided by four 1 to 48 yes. Yea I'm sure but I don't think it will work but ill probably be working and won't need it
But they don't have a 1 to 48 ratio, for sure. They have something more like 1 to 196. or 2 to 96 in the trustee wing. They are actually that short-handed. Oh, I want you to get a good job. You must have been doing something right up until the wheels came off. I think the thing that impresses me the most is that to take a smoke break an officer has to leave the property entirely. That way, if anything goes wrong, he's totally unavailable unless he's summoned by phone or beeper, radio, something. Do those folks have handheld HT's, or anything like that?
Yea radios. wait till the get in a wreck explain that one
I think the work has become more than the current amount of employees on a shift can handle they need more jailers spots created
I heard that. They couldn't cover the CEC operation and the downtown jail with what they have. Would court room security be better if they they housed the inmates on trial at the downtown jail and brought them to the court room in the annex?
That sounds good
Did you fuss with your direct supervisor, the Cpl?
I just lost it and cussed him and went to working. Hey I'm out gnite. Take care. Haller at me later
Sounds like something I would do. You reckon all this stuff got on your nerves, wore you down? I know they have solid doors out there, but it's what's behind them that counts. Y'all don't feed them in a central location, but in their cells. But would you say there is a definite security problem or problems that don't come up to jail standards? How about fire safety? Smoke?
The place is a mess a train wreck and accident waiting to happen .they move them inmates like sheep
Would it be easy for the trustys to get shank-making stuff to the inmates? With only two guards on them, it looks that way to me. Any of those folks allowed to use tools, carry tool boxes, what not?Were you apprehensive as to your safety, the safety of others?
I never really was till this past two years. Old LT said I don't know why they are fighting so much. I'm like thinking duh you move people around like cattle and there stressed. Inmates alot of the time will regulate them selfs in a tank. Kind a natural order thing you constantly move them like this it causes anxiety and tension
My opinion though
Why do they move them that much? Is it a recent thing?
All the time I hear its a money thing
So, they send them to CEC? Or to other wings in the building?
Cec back and fourth
I roger the money thing. Anything you would like to add? I get the picture that it's a difficult assignment covered by too few people who are working in a very tight budget. Would you say I'm correct, fair in my assessment?
What are you plans for the future?
I'm just going to be a regular Guy work around normal people that aren't weird and have little man syndrome LOL. Hey I'm crashing later jim
Ok, partner. I really like talking to you. You a good old boy. I would like to stay in touch with you. - Jim Parks - Out
Chat Conversation End
Seen 11:34 PM


  1. Guy gets fired for cussing at his boss (real A+ move there by the way for someone with a "spotless record"), runs to complain about everything that is "wrong" with his now FORMER employer, and that makes him credible......

    Your sources are getting worse by the day

  2. And, just to think of it. Here, you let it bother you to this extent. Hard to imagine...(!) - The Legendary

  3. Doesnt mean what he said wasnt true. He didn't lie about cursing his boss. Didnt even seem mad or hostile.

  4. Unlike my man Anonymous, here! Now, this critter knows how to get down when it comes to Hostile, he's Mr. HOSTILE! He jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton on hostile. He done wrote the book on hostile. He STAY mad at hostile. - The Legendary

  5. According to Commissioners Court this morning the Jail Standards Commission gave the Hwy 6 Jail a near perfect inspection and commended the staff at that worked there. Sounds like this guy just has some sour grapes from being fired after cussing his boss out. As an employer, I's never hire a guy with a temper like this guy who has a history of first disrespecting his supervisor, then trying defame his former employer.

  6. Spears is 120% CORRECT!!!

  7. Mr Spears is a good man! He may have his faults but dishonesty isn't one of them!