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on Keller’s fate. The full commission will hold its own hearing, after which it can censure Keller or dismiss the charges. To impeach Keller, though, the commission must recommend removal to the Texas Supreme Court, which appoints a panel of seven appellate judges, who hold yet another hearing. At that point, Keller might be impeached, although even that decision can be appealed to the conservative Texas Supreme Court for final ruling. With Sharon Keller, justice always seems delayed. Dave Mann Locked Down TROUBLING REPORTS FROM A PRIVATE PRISON One day in late October 2006, Adan Munoz Jr. received an urgent call from someone in Pecos. There were county inmates at the Reeves County Detention Complex, the caller said. Munoz had been on the job as executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards for only a month, but he understood the significance right away. This was a rare chance to get one of his inspectors into the troubled prison. The Reeves Detention Complex is an odd place: a countyowned jail that rarely has any county inmates. Instead, the remote facility is jammed with more than 2,000 federal inmatesmostly undocumented immigrants convicted of federal immigration crimesand overseen by the world’s second-largest private prison company, Florida-based GEO Group Inc. In 2003, at the behest of Reeves County officials, Rep. Pete Gallego, a Democrat whose district includes the county, shepherded a bill through the Texas Legislature that exempted county-owned jails and prisons holding only federal prisoners from oversight by TCJS. Gallego said that he wanted to eliminate duplicative regulation by state and federal agencies. The legislation left 18 such facilitiesand an estimated 18,000 inmatesoutside the purview of the state jail commission. Under the new law, state inspectors could enter only if they somehow learned that county inmates or out-of-state prisoners were being held. Upon receiving the phone call, Munoz immediately dis patched one of his four inspectors to Pecos for a surprise inspection. Good thing he did: The inspector found only 14 guards on site for 855 inmates, a 1-to-61 guard-to-inmate ratio. TCJS standards require a minimum of 1-to-48. “That’s a tremendous red flag,” Munoz says. “I’ve yet to find another facility that high.” TCJS hasn’t been able to go back to the Reeves prison since October ’06, despite reports of several suspicious inmate deaths and two riots in recent months. Other GEO-run facilities in Texas have had a rash of suicides and human rights complaints. In the last 18 months, GEO Group has had its contract yanked at three Texas facilities, including two prisons housing Idaho inmates that officials from that state said had appalling conditions. In February, Munoz told a House appropriations subcommittee that he wanted commission’s powers to regulate private, county-owned lock-ups restored. Doing so could help prevent such heinous problems in the future, Munoz says. “I would strongly suspect that knowing you’re going to have annual inspections and surprise inspections sometimes… would lead to the facility being brought up to standards.” The prisons in question already fall under federal standards. In fact, the troubled Reeves prison has “a few” federal overseers on-site full-time, according to a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson. But “it’s clear that the federal government is not regulating these facilities:’ says Bob Libal, a coordinator for Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based organization that opposes private prisons. “You don’t have multiple people dying and full-scale riots where basic standards are being met.” State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-Corpus Christi, is expected to file a bill restoring the commission’s oversight. Gallego did not return several phone calls to his office. Forrest Wilder The Price of Profit WILL HOME INSURANCE COMPANIES FINALLY TAKE A HIT? Insurance companies in Texas are getting what they can while the getting’s good. Texans continue to pay the highest rates for home insurance in the nation. Meanwhile, the industry has enjoyed some of its most profitable years on recorddespite the occasional YOU DON’T SAY: “We can be born again of The Almighty Himself. We then take on His character with all the resultant self-control, benefits, and great responsibility. You will be amazed when the ‘sperm’ of His Spirit connects with the ‘ovum/egg’ of your spirit and you become a ‘new person’ with His character. How? Read about it in your Bible.” Excerpt from an abstinence-only sex education curriculum used by three school districts in the Fort Worth area. 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 6, 2009