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Criminal Guards in Texas

Four female guards were each freed from Jefferson County Jail on $6,000 bond early in January 2002 after being charged with crimes involving sex with Texas prisoners. The four women were employed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) at the Mark W. Stiles State Prison, a 2,800-man maximum-security facility for men near Beaumont.

Ingrid Fisk, 21, and Monica Mahoney, 22, were each booked on charges of improper sexual activity with a person in custody. Chastity Broussard, 21, and Latisia Trahan, 25, were charged with criminal responsibility for conduct of another. Each charge is a felony punishable by up to 2 years in a state jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Late last year, prisoners at the Stiles facility had complained to TDCJ's Office of the Inspector General that female guards were having sex with certain convicts. In response, investigators set up video cameras in Building 18, a 330-man dormitory at the prison.

On December 22, 2001, Fisk and an unnamed prisoner were videotaped entering a bathroom in the dormitory. Several minutes later, Fisk came cut, got a towel, and went back into the bathroom with the prisoner.

Broussard and Trahan, both assigned to work in the dormitory, kept a lookout while Fisk and the prisoner were in the bathroom, said Tim English, a TDCJ investigator.

When questioned by investigators, the prisoner admitted he fondled Fisk however Fisk claimed she was innocent of all charges. "They're trying to say I had sex with an offender and I'm saying I didn't have sex with an offender," said Fisk.

Jeffery Armstrong, a TDCJ investigator, said he saw a videotape where, on December 21st and 22nd, a female guard and another unnamed prisoner were embracing in the Building 18 barbershop. When asked about it, Mahoney said she was in a relationship with a prisoner but denied having a sexual relationship. Mahoney admitted to fondling the prisoner and, in an affidavit, the prisoner stated she performed oral sex on him.

The four women will receive compensatory time and vacation pay but will not return to the prison unless they are cleared of the charges, said TDCJ spokesman Larry Todd.

In San Antonio, three Bexar County jail deputies resigned after they were put under investigation for furnishing prisoners with coffee, tobacco, narcotics, and a cell phone. Sheriff Ralph Lopez said that when the three deputies were brought in for questioning, they declined to answer any questions and resigned. One deputy was a 20-year veteran; the others had 5 and 2 years of service, respectively. Internal affairs began the investigation after informants revealed that the deputies, whose names were not disclosed, were trafficking with prisoners and charging them for use of the cell phone. Because the three men resigned, internal affairs will no longer handle the investigation and will transfer it to the district attorney's office for review.

In east Texas, federal jurors in Tyler found that prison guards did not use excessive force when they punched a prisoner in the eye causing him to lose vision in that eye. Michael P. Fontenot, a prisoner at the 2,800-man Mark W. Michael State Prison, alleged that three guards physically assaulted him in September 1999 and the assault caused him to lose vision in one eye. Fontenot filed suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and the matter came to trial early in December 2001 before U.S. District Judge William Steger.

After hearing testimony for little more than a day, a federal jury of six women and two men deliberated about an hour before ruling in favor of the prison guards. Defendants Lurenza Hutchison, Steven Sims, and Sgt. Olin Statham, Jr. had admitted to punching Fontenot in the eye but said they used only the amount of force necessary to control the incident.

Sources: Associated Press ,Beaumont Enterprise ,San Antonio Express-News ,Temple (Texas) Daily Telegram ,Tyler Morning Telegraph .

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