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PLN, Texas Civil Rights Project file public records suit against CCA in Texas

Dallas Morning News, Jan. 1, 2013.
PLN, Texas Civil Rights Project file public records suit against CCA in Texas - Dallas Morning News 2013

Groups sue Dawson State Jail operator, alleging ‘unconscionable and unconstitutional conditions’

By Robert Wilonsky

1:49 pm on May 1, 2013

The privately run Dawson State Jail on the Trinity River is under fire again, this time from the Texas Civil Rights Project and Prison Legal News, which filed a suit in Travis County today alleging that operator Corrections Corporation of America is engaged in “patterns of unconscionable and unconstitutional conditions.” The plaintiffs are asking for the court’s permission to investigate the CCA, which runs the downtown Dallas facility recently branded “Texas’ worst state jail.”

In a separate press release issued this afternoon, the groups allege that CCA is “covering up the deaths of seven people at the Dawson State Jail while denying hundreds of women access to medical care.” The release refers specifically to the death of inmate Autumn Miller’s premature baby, a girl named Gracie born after just 26 weeks of gestation. Miller sued CCA in Dallas federal court in March.

Bob Libal, director of North Carolina-based Grassroots Leadership, calls Dawson State Jail “a death-trap for its occupants” in today’s release.

“CCA hides the truth about its management because it knows the truth is horrific,” adds Texas Civil Rights Project attorney Brian McGiverin. “But they won’t get away with it. Texans know how to keep government accountable. Our laws entitle us to check its homework and keep it honest. At Dawson State Jail and beyond, we intend to show CCA it is not above the law.”

The latest suit against CCA comes just as state legislators are looking to shutter the jail, insisting, among other things, that it’s just not needed given the dwindling jail population in Texas. And, separately, Dallas officials have long hoped to replace the jail with a development on the Trinity River … across from the Dallas County jail.