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Missouri Proposes $2.2 Million Settlement

On June 25, 1999, the state of Missouri filed a proposed $2.2 million settlement in U.S. District Court that would dispose of 32 lawsuits filed in state and federal courts by 700 - 2,100 Missouri prisoners abused in Texas jails. The lawsuits stem partly from abuses that occurred during a 1996 shakedown of Missouri prisoners housed in the Brazoria County Detention Center.

At the time of the incident Missouri housed some of its its overflow prisoners in a portion of the Brazoria County jail that was being leased to Capital Correctional Resources, Inc. (CCRI), a private prison company.

The shakedown was videotaped by Texas deputies who intended to use it as a training tape. [See: No Qualified Immunity for Texas Sheriff and CCRI Guards Who Abused Missouri Prisoners, PLN August 1999]. The tape, which surfaced after prisoners sued and the county handed it over during discovery, became an instant media sensation.

About $2.1 million of the settlement would come from the insurance policies held by CCRI and Brazoria County. Another $20,000 would come from the private transport company that contracted with Missouri to move its prisoners to Texas (to settle claims of abuse that occurred during transport).

For its part, the state of Missouri would not pay anything under the settlement, but agrees to several points: not to take money from the inmate accounts of Missouri prisoners who share in the settlement; not to send those particular prisoners back to Texas for five years; and to investigate the validity of conduct violations the prisoners received while in Texas, if the prisoner wants.

As of this writing, criminal trials relating to the abuse are pending: one CCRI guard faces charges for allegedly slamming a prisoner's face against a wall. That same jailer and three Brazoria County deputies face criminal civil rights charges in federal court for their roles in the videotaped shakedown. PLN will report the outcome of those trials when that information becomes available.

Associated Press, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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