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'Training Video' Reveals Beatings in Texas Rent-A-Jail

The state of Missouri was swift to react to the explosive national news coverage resulting from the release of a video tape showing Missouri prisoners being kicked and beaten during a "shake down" at a Texas Rent-A-Jail. The state of Missouri announced that it was terminating its $6 million contract Capital Correctional Resources, Inc. (CCRI), operators of the Brazoria County, Texas, prison where the video-taped beatings took place.

CCRI also operates the Limestone County, Texas, Rent-A-Jail whose Oklahoma prisoners were pulled out by Oklahoma state officials concerned about CCRI's "inordinate use of pepper spray" and "quality of life" issues at the Limestone Rent-A-Jail.

The Brazoria County video tape "shocked" a national TV audience who saw Missouri prisoners kicked, beaten, set-upon by dogs, and targeted by stun gun-wielding deputies. The incident was video-taped in September of 1996, and CCRI was reportedly using the tape as a training aid. The video came to light only as the result of discovery motions filed on behalf of several Missouri prisoners litigating the adverse conditions suffered by out-of-state exiles in the Brazoria County Rent-A-Jail.

It is worth noting that Missouri state officials could not have been unaware of the conditions their exiled prisoners faced in Texas. Activists, representatives from Missouri-CURE prisoners' families, attorneys, and prisoners had lodged numerous complaints with Missouri state officials -- to no avail.

After the "shocking" video tape aired on all three major TV network news programs, however, it took a scant few hours for the Governor of Missouri to respond with sound-bites expressing his personal shock and outrage.

"As soon as we saw that video tape," said Fougere, "our only recourse was to bring them back. We're not going to stand for something like that."

NY Times, Associated Press, Reuters

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