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Texas Guard Gets Probation for Killing Prisoner

In the September '95 issue of PLN we reported the manslaughter conviction of Joel Lambright, Jr. He was the first Texas prison guard in history to be convicted of killing a prisoner. He was sentenced to serve a two to ten year sentence. After serving just three months of that sentence, however, Lambright was granted probation. District court judge Joe Ned Dean granted a motion from Lambright's attorney to place his client on "shock probation," according to reports from Texas newspapers.

Defense attorney Travis Kitchens, who represents Lambright, said the purpose of shock probation is "to give a person who has never been in prison before a taste of prison in the hope that it persuades them not to get in trouble again." It is not clear how Lambright, a former prison guard, would fit the profile "never been in prison before." And considering that he was convicted of beating a prisoner to death, Lambright presumably is quite familiar with the taste of prison.

Lambright, 21, son of a former Corrigan, TX police chief, was released from prison and permitted to return to his Corrigan home. Latham Boone, lead prosecutor in Lambright's case, told reporters that he had no objection to the motion for Lambright's prison sentence to be converted to probation. In response to the judge's ruling, Boone said, "I think the judge had the community's best interests in mind and also the interest of rehabilitating Lambright."

The other guard charged along with Lambright, Alex Torres, 31, entered into a plea agreement and his murder charge was reduced to manslaughter. He was sentenced to eight years in prison. There is no word at this point on whether Torres will also be granted probation.

Lambright and Torres went to the cell of Michael McCoy and beat him to death. According to prisoners who are familiar with the case, McCoy spit on Torres' wife (a kitchen worker) during a disturbance at the prison. In retaliation for spitting on a guard's wife, McCoy was beaten to death. And you wonder why prisoners call it the "Just-Us" system?!

Sources: San Antonio Express ,Houston Chronicle , Reader Mail.

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