DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – A jail in downtown Dallas is closing for good — after a series of CBS 11 I-Team investigations uncovered questionable deaths inside the facility.
Lawmakers have pulled funding for Dawson State Jail, and the facility will close at the end of August.
The CBS I-Team’s Ginger Allen has spent more than a year digging into the lack of medical care there.
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Inmates, their families and former guards say deaths happened because cries for help were ignored.
State Senator Royce West followed CBS 11’s investigations and led the charge in Austin to close the jail.
“Two facilities will close in Texas, but there are many more private prisons to close before our job is done,” said Kymberlie Quong Charles of Grassroots Leadership, which coordinates a national campaign against for-profit prisons.
“This victory gives us tremendous hope and momentum, though. Texas is the birthplace of the modern private prison industry. If we can get the Texas legislature to agree that private facilities are not working for our state, that’s good news for the national movement against for-profit prisons.”
Following CBS 11’s investigation, Grassroots Leadership formed a coalition of more than 24-national and local civil rights groups which fought to close Dawson. Organizers tell us this is a victory for the inmates and for the state of Texas.
Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that runs Dawson sent this statement in response to the jail’s closing:
“Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) understands it is TDCJ’s intention not to renew the contracts with our Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility and Dawson State Jail. In anticipation of that, we have provided notification to our dedicated professionals so they can plan for next steps ahead of the contract expiration in August.
Our top priority now is assisting those affected employees, and we will be offering all of them the opportunity to transfer to other CCA facilities. We want to ensure that any existing staff member who wants to continue his or her career with our company can do so. For employees unable to transfer, our team will coordinate opportunities to help them find jobs in the local area.
We are proud of our very talented and dedicated staff and remain thankful for the local and state officials who have been advocating tirelessly for the more than 600 professionals employed by CCA at these facilities. Our Mineral Wells and Dawson teams work hard each and every day to keep the community safe, provide rehabilitation opportunities for inmates, and generate savings for taxpayers.” -Steve Owen, Senior Director, Public Affairs
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says it will begin transferring inmates to other jails.
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