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Bexar County Jail back in good standing after inspection, sheriff says

Bexar County officials said they expect a “favorable outcome” from the recent inspection but haven’t received official word from TCJS.

SAN ANTONIO — Nearly eight months after the Bexar County Jail failed its annual inspection by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, Bexar County officials said the jail was re-inspected last week and passed the inspection.

During an inspection in February of this year, TCJS cited nine areas where the county was deficient including: utilizing "civilian employees to perform duties of licensed jailers", allowing "civilian employees to perform releasing officer duties", and failing "to provide training records to confirm that detention officers received suicide prevention training in accordance with the approved operational plans".

Officials received official word from TCJS on Tuesday on whether they passed their inspection, Johnny Garcia, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said. Garcia said the Sheriff's Office was expecting a "favorable outcome."

The news came after the Sheriff’s Office on Monday announced the deaths of two inmates in their custody – Rondell Lee Peterson and David Alan Watts.

Peterson hanged himself Nov. 2, less than 24 hours after he was booked on charges of trafficking and aggravated sexual assault of a child but was placed in a medically induced coma. He died Monday after his family took him off life support Sunday, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sheriff’s Office officials said Watts, who was in custody on a second offense of indecency with a child by contact, died after suffering a medical episode, though his official cause of death has yet to be determined by the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s office.

Garcia told KENS 5 that while officials have reported the two deaths to TCJS, the agency which oversees jail standards for detention facilities across the state, they have not been told that the recent inmate deaths will affect the outcome of the inspection.

Peterson and Watts’ deaths bring the total to nine inmates who died in Bexar County custody this year alone.

RELATED: Bexar Cty. sheriff says he’s ready for a jail inspection after failing earlier this year 

In August, Sheriff Javier Salazar went before the TCJS board in Austin, briefing its members on already implemented changes at the jail. At that time, Sheriff Salazar stated civilians were replaced and new procedures implemented to prevent wrongful inmate releases -- seven erroneous releases at the time. Nine more erroneous releases have occurred since then, making the total 16, to date. 

RELATED: Inmate mistakenly released from Bexar County Jail back in custody

RELATED: Sheriff's Office to 'overhaul' booking process after several erroneous releases 

The jail passing its inspection puts the facility back in compliance with TCJS for the first time in nearly a year.

Days before the random inspection, Sheriff Javier Salazar appointed former Maverick County Jail chief Jaime Rios to the position of jail chief at the Bexar County Jail. Salazar said Rios was brought on to offer support to jail chiefs Avery Walker and Joel Janssen.

Rios is the sixth person to hold the title of jail administrator. Ruben Vela, Laura Balditt and Bobby Hogeland held the post prior to Rios, Janssen and Walker.

Balditt retired in April 2018, Hogeland resigned in September 2018 and Vela was fired in February after he refused to resign.


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