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Oft-sued Louisiana company ends contract to run Texas jail

1 month 3 weeks 6 days ago Thursday, November 19 2020 Nov 19, 2020 November 19, 2020 4:59 AM November 19, 2020 in News
Source: Associated Press
LaSalle Corrections

TEXARKANA, Texas (AP) — A company that has been the subject of several lawsuits over inmate deaths or injuries is ending its contract with a jail in East Texas that it has run since 2010, the county’s top elected official said.

LaSalle Corrections is allowing its contract with the Bowie County jail to expire on Feb. 12, Bowie County Judge Bobby Howell said.

Howell said the sheriff’s office will manage the jail in the Bi-State Justice Building in downtown Texarkana and the annex behind it, the Texarkana Gazette reported.

“We anticipate Bowie County hiring its own employees to operate the Bowie County Jails (Bowie County Correctional Center and Bi-State Jail),” Sheriff James Prince said in a news release on Tuesday. Prince also said a budget was set to determine the estimated cost of operating the facilities.

The sheriff’s office will begin managing the jail on Feb. 13, after Sheriff-elect Jeff Neal is sworn in on Jan. 1, Prince added.

Neal stressed the importance of having good people working at the facilities.

“We met with some of the jail employees this morning and encouraged them to re-apply, and we will be meeting with the rest of them throughout the week,” Neal said.

Rodney Cooper, the head of LaSalle Corrections, said in a news release, “We have enjoyed and appreciate our long, positive, working relationship with Bowie County officials.”

The Louisiana-based company has been the subject of several lawsuits stemming from inmate deaths and injuries. One was filed in September by the family of Holly Barlow-Austin, who died after being held in Bowie County jail last year. The suit alleged that Lasalle’s staff neglected her care and ignored her pleas for help as her health deteriorated and she went blind.

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