A just-released prisoner in the Anderson County Jail alleged Wednesday jailers regularly broke the law by falsifying observation logs, and also violated state jail standards by improperly distributing medications.
“They're supposed to check on us every 30 minutes,” Michael Goff, 47, an inmate at the Anderson County Jail from July until last week, told the Herald-Press. “A couple of them did, but most didn't. They'd just fill in the blank spaces on the sheet, all at the same time.”
Goff was charged with assault but never indicted. “The log was hanging on the wall in direct view of my cell,” he said. “They did it every day.”
Under state standards, jailers must observe prisoners every 30 minutes and then document the check on an observation log. Not making those checks and falsifying logs to cover it up constitutes tampering with governmental records, a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in jail.
State records show Texas Rangers have arrested at least a few jailers for the offense, who were then sentenced to community service and supervision.
Calls to Sheriff Greg Taylor were not returned. Over the last two years, Taylor has refused to talk to the Herald-Press about jail conditions or operations.
Stevan Richards, who served 90 days last year for a probation violation, said he rarely experienced 30-minute checks.
Like Goff, Richards said he witnessed guards dispensing prescription medications to inmates not named on the prescriptions.
“The guard would call a name, and if that inmate was asleep, his cellmate would go up and get the meds,” Richards said. “There was no need to verify who they were; the guards would just hand over the meds.”
Goff, who received over-the-counter pain relievers in jail, said the jail nurse, Timothy Green, would typically hand out prescriptions, and only to legal recipients.
When jailers were tasked to hand out drugs in Green's absence, however, Goff said more logs and government documents were falsified.
“The guards wouldn't have the log for us to sign for meds,” Goff said. “Because of this, they'd make us back-fill, sometimes for five days worth of meds, so their documents would be complete.”
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards requires prescription drugs to be dispensed by medical professionals. Additionally, TCJS mandates a paper-record of all drugs dispensed within county jails.
Anderson County Jail failed an annual TCJS inspection last September for failing to keep record of prescription drugs dispensed between July and September.
Anderson County, Taylor, and the medical contractor's managing members, Dr. Adam Corley and registered nurse Timothy Green, are defendants in a $10-million federal wrongful-death lawsuit filed last month by the family of Rhonda Newsome, 50, who died in the Anderson County Jail last year.
Goff and Richards also both claim to have had medical requests ignored in the county jail – Goff for a chest injury, and Richards for a chronic ear infection, for which he needed prescription antibiotics.
“It got so bad, I couldn't hear,” Richards said. “I never did get a response on my medical request, and I submitted it more than three weeks before I was released.”
Goff, who injured his chest climbing onto his top-bunk, said his request was never answered, but approached Green directly during a medical visit to another inmate.
“I don't think there's any record of him seeing me at all,” Goff said. “I'm lucky I was able to catch him when he was walking by.”