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Death Highlights Need for Change in Texas GEO-Run Prison

by Kevin Bliss

Eagle Pass Correctional Facility (EPCF) have been investigated by the Maverick County, Texas Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC), Corizon Correctional Healthcare, and the GEO Group after 56-year-old Kim Sargent Taylor died in January 2019, of “natural causes.” Taylor had been to medical a week earlier complaining of a sore throat, followed by a rising temperature of 101.3, dizziness, and congested lungs. On the night of his death, guards were called because Taylor was pale, sweating, and incoherent. A later report stated that an inexperienced nurse responded supplying subpar medical assistance, which led to his transportation to the local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

EPCF, just southwest of San Antonio, Texas, is GEO Group’s newly acquired prison used to house IDOC’s prisoners, due to overpopulation. It began as a county jail and was later converted in 2018 to meet IDOC’s requirements to house some of their less violent prisoners. Since then, it has been surrounded in controversy because of its poor living conditions. Prisoners and their families have contacted the Idaho American Civil Liberties and the Idaho Press complaining about being locked down 24 hours a day, no access to the grievance procedure, inadequate food, poor medical treatment, and a collection of other constitutional violations.

Terri Greenwood and Craig Taylor (Kim Taylor’s sister and brother) hired Ed Budge of Budge and Heipt, LLC to look into the situation after a Serious Incident Review (SIR) ordered by the IDOC revealed questionable practices by the responding nurse and a premature finding of natural causes without an autopsy.

“The public needs to know about Kim Taylor,” said Budge. “The public needs to know that a loved one can be confined to a prison but come out in a body bag.”

IDOC and Corizon performed several Healthcare Service Audits at EPCF where it was found they failed to meet threshold requirements in the areas of Infection Control, Medication Administration Records, Nonemergency Healthcare Services, Pharmaceutical Operations, Continuity of Care, and Oral Care. Although these conditions had existed for some time, IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray confirmed with the Idaho Press that no penalty had yet been invoked against GEO for those actions which violated contractual agreements.

EPCF Warden Waymon Barry has been directed by the IDOC to have an autopsy performed following any future prisoner’s death. In May 2019, two top-level Corizon employees were dismissed for the improper medical treatment Taylor received. The IDOC has stated it will audit the prison once a week to monitor additional recommended improvements.

Budge stated that he commended the IDOC for their prompt response but he is still looking into the situation for possible legal action. “It often takes months to get clues it often takes years to get answers. The public needs to know about this, for sure,” he said.

Jeff Ray, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Correction, said that state prison officials “had seen no significant problems at Eagle Pass that caused us to be concerned about the quality of health care” prior to Taylor’s death. In January, IDOC announced it was looking for a private prison company to run an in-state prison. If that happens, all prisoners currently held at Eagle Pass would be returned to Idaho. 



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