Prescription drugs in the Anderson County Jail were dispensed for two months without documentation or oversight, a state report shows.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards report, obtained by the Herald-Press Friday, also cited bug infestations and other sanitary issues in the local jail.
Based on an unannounced inspection on Sept. 3-4, the report showed the medical contractor, TAKET LLC, did not record any medications dispensed to prisoners between July and September of this year.
That means, during those two months, an unknown number of controlled substances, which could include narcotics such as hydrocodone, Tramadol, or even morphine, could have been improperly distributed to prisoners. It also means medical staff could not document whether prisoners were denied necessary medications.
Problems with documentation occurred when TAKET switched from traditional paper reporting to an electronic system. When the electronic system failed, TAKET did not re-establish paper reporting.
“No medical administration record (MAR) sheets existed for any inmates at the facility,” TCJS Inspector William Phariss wrote in his report.
The commission ordered TAKET to immediately return to paper reporting. Additionally, the contractor must scan and email all MAR documents to TCJS until further notice.
County Judge Robert Johnston said Friday TAKET has already complied.
TAKET's managing members, Dr. Adam Corley and registered nurse Timothy Green, along with Anderson County and Sheriff Greg Taylor, are defendants in a $10-million federal wrongful-death lawsuit filed last month by the family of Rhonda Newsome
Newsome, 50, died in the Anderson County Jail on June 15, 2018. A Texas Rangers investigation found she died seven hours after jail medical staff received blood test results showing Newsome was in imminent danger of death.
The failure to document medication put the Anderson County Jail formally out of compliance.
State inspectors, however, also found other significant problems – otherwise called “technical issues” – the jail had to correct. Those problems, documented in the Sept. 5 report, included sanitation, bug infestations, and improper food management.
Jail staff also occasionally failed to make required checks on restrained inmates every 15 minutes, the report stated.
So-called technical issues were addressed on-site by TCJS inspectors; the commission will reexamine them within 90 days.
Johnston called the TCJS findings “disturbing.” Earlier this week, he told the Herald-Press TAKET would remain in consideration for next year's $210,000 medical contract.
“This will certainly play into the decision the Commissioners Court makes on rewarding the contract,” he said.
Lack of fresh clothing for prisoners was another issue cited by the report.
“Jail staff are removing an inmate's one uniform for laundering,” Phariss reported. “A change of clothing must be furnished to inmates weekly.”
Former inmate Stevan Richards, who was jailed in Anderson County from July through October, 2018, told the Herald-Press neither he nor his cellmates ever received a change of clothes.
“On laundry day, they'd take your one jumpsuit, and you'd have to walk around in your t-shirt and boxers until it was washed,” he said. “Next time, they'd take your underwear, and you'd just wear your jumpsuit over your bare body. I never knew we were supposed to get fresh clothes.”
Richards also said he witnessed jail staff knowingly dispensing prescription drugs to the wrong inmate.
“A guard and someone in plain clothes would stand at the end of the run and call out names for people to come get their meds,” he said. “One time, one of my cellmates was asleep, and didn't hear his name. My other cellmate walked up there, and they just handed him the drugs – no problem.”
Food preparation by inmates, which includes the use of heating elements, cooking utensils, and carving knives tethered to countertops, must, by law, be supervised at all times by guards, or third-party contractors. In his report, Pharris said that didn't happen in Anderson County.
“Food service supervisor Sgt. Martinez...works Monday through Friday,” Phariss reported. “Staff is not present at all times during food preparation, including weekends.”
Phariss provided jail officials 30 days to implement a plan to ensure either jail staff or contract employees supervise all food preparation.
If the jail fails to comply with minimum standards, the state could close it and relocate its inmates – though this outcome is unlikely.
Calls made by the Herald-Press to Sheriff Taylor were not returned.