08-09-Judge-Johnston

Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston

The Anderson County Jail Wednesday failed a surprise two-day inspection by the Texas Commission of Jail Standards.

Found “out of compliance” of state standards, the jail has time, typically two weeks, to fix the problems and come into compliance. If it does not, the jail faces a shut-down, with its inmates shipped to another jail.

“That's not going to happen,” County Judge Robert Johnston told the Herald-Press Wednesday. “I'm out of town, so I don't know exactly what the report says. However, I have no doubt whatsoever the jail staff will fix the deficiencies and we will move along, business as usual.”

The surprise inspection comes less than two weeks after the Herald-Press reported the filing of a $10-million wrongful death lawsuit in federal court, brought by the family of former Anderson County jail prisoner Rhonda Newsome. Newsome, 50, died June 15, 2018, in a holding cell.

A year-long Texas Rangers investigation into Newsome's death, which was completed in May of this year, found no criminal wrongdoing by Anderson County. The investigation, however, also found evidence that medical neglect caused, or contributed to, Newsome's death.

Last month, the Texas Rangers re-opened the investigation into whether Newsome's death involved criminal wrongdoing.

Newsome was the second Anderson County prisoner to die in 14 months.

Following Newsome's death, former jail prisoners told the Herald-Press that jail staff routinely failed to make mandated checks on prisoners, and that non-medical personnel handed out prescription medications.

Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor declined comment Wednesday, but said he would make a statement Thursday.

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