Texas Prisons Plagued By Prison Abuse - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Texas Prisons Plagued By Prison Abuse

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There's new research that shows some Texas prisons are among the worst in the country in prisoner abuse, including one here in Texoma.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that five of the 10 prisons with the highest rates of sexual abuse in the nation are in Texas - including the Allred Unit in Iowa Park.

It means not only that the inmates' safety is vulnerable, but it also jeopardizes their rehabilitation.

The Allred Unit Prison has an abuse rate of 9.9 percent, more than twice the national average.

"It's certainly disturbing," says Linda McFarlane, deputy executive director of Just Detention International.  "I think that when there are levels of sexual assault that high, it points to a break down in management of the institution at all levels."

JDI is the watchdog of prisoner abuse, and from it's headquarters in Washington, DC, they're well aware of the problems facing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

"That we say that we do not allow torture in the U.S. - being raped while in prison is tantamount to torture," adds McFarlane.  "Texas is particularly challenging because of it's sheer size, the scope of the system, the number of inmates and how spread out they are."

But ethical responsibility is hardly the only consequence, JDI says.  If Texas does not properly protect its 153,000 inmates, it will take a real toll on society.

"When someone is traumatized while incarcerated," explains McFarlane, "they return to the community less able to function than when they went in, less likely to be able to support their family, to gain employment, which they would pay taxes. The costs, both ethically and financially to taxpayers are astronomical."

Jonah Kaplan, Newschannel 6