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State Weasel Monitors Private Prison Chicken Coop in Texas

Robert L. Dearing is the deputy director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The jail commission is in charge of inspecting and certifying county jails, including those that are privately operated. The jail commission's authority to enforce state standards, in effect, gives it the life-and-death power over private prison vendors who want to ply their trade in the state of Texas.

One of those vendors, the Bobby Ross Group, operates the Dickens County Correctional Center (DCCC) in West Texas. DCCC has been the site of numerous disturbances. The facility was criticized by Montana state officials who conducted an audit and cited 29 areas of noncompliance with the jail's contract to house Montana prisoners .

Unlike the Montana state audit, however, Texas state jail commission inspector Robert Scarborough -- and deputy director Dearing gave the troubled Bobby Ross Group facility a clean bill of health.

The discrepancy between the Montana and Texas state inspections wasn't big news. Not until the Houston Chronicle did some digging. In November, 1997, the Chronicle reported a startling fact: A subsidiary of the Bobby Ross Group paid a hefty $42,000 a year "consulting fee" to Dearing.

Bobby Ross company attorney, Tony Schaffer, confirmed that Dearing received the $42,000 annual payment, but claimed that Dearing did not "consult" on any Texas facilities. Schaffer said that Dearing was paid by BRG to conduct security inspections of a male juvenile facility the company operates in Ocilla, Georgia.

Dearing resigned his BRG consulting job immediately after news of it broke in the media.

Houston Chronicle ,Waco Tribune-Herald

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