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Articles by Alysia Santo

No-Show Prison Workers Cost Mississippi Taxpayers Millions

Prisoners, guards face danger from chronic understaffing by MTC

by Joseph Neff and Alysia Santo, The Marshall Project

This article was published in partnership with The Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi Today and The Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.

When Darrell Adams showed up for an overnight shift at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in rural Mississippi, he was one of six officers guarding about 1,000 prisoners.

Adams said he thought that was normal; only half-a-dozen guards had been turning up each night during the three months he’d worked at the prison, which is run by Management & Training Corporation. He didn’t know the state’s contract with MTC required at least 19 officers.

On April 3, 2019, Adams escorted a nurse to deliver medicine in a unit where the most dangerous prisoners were held in solitary confinement. The contract required a sergeant and an officer to be there at all times. But that night, Adams and the nurse said, he was the sole guard working the unit, and was also covering for six absent officers in three other buildings.

As Adams was leaving the unit, a prisoner slipped out of his cell, sneaked up behind Adams and smashed his head into the steel ...

When an Old Law Makes it Hard to Fix a Troubled Jail

A federal statute from the Carter era favors negotiation, but that can take a long time.

by Alysia Santo, The Marshall Project

The Harris County jail in Houston is among the nation’s largest, and it’s also one of the most deadly. Within the last decade, scores of prisoners have died, often ...

Preying on Prisoners: In Texas, Staffers Rarely go to Jail for Sexually Abusing Inmates

Preying on Prisoners: in Texas, Staffers Rarely go to Jail for Sexually Abusing Inmates

by Alysia Santo, The Marshall Project

As a prison nurse, Domenic Hidalgo had access to prescription medication, a highly coveted commodity among the inmates at the Clements Unit in Texas, the state prison where Hidalgo worked.

He tried to use that access to get what he wanted: sex with Matthew, a prisoner at the facility. When Matthew reported Hidalgo’s advances to prison staff in April of 2011, officers wired him with a recording device and told him to prove it.

In audio obtained by The Marshall Project, Hidalgo can be heard handing Matthew a Bupropion pill, a type of antidepressant, and asking to perform oral sex on him in exchange. “This is the best time,” said Hidalgo, but Matthew demurred, saying he’d come back soon. “Let me just mess with you,” Hidalgo insisted. He then pulled down Matthew’s pants and masturbated him. (The full names of victims have been withheld to protect their privacy.)

In Texas, sexual contact between staff and inmates is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Combined with an additional felony charge for distributing drugs to an inmate, ...