Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz is taking another hit for the way he runs the Bexar County Jail. This time from guards who accuse his administration of putting them, and non-violent inmates, at risk by not properly weeding out violent offenders.
A jailer, who asked not to be identified, says the current jail administration is not properly classifying inmates as low, medium or high security risks. “I wouldn't want a friend or relative that might go to jail for a hot check or a ticket or something like that, to go to jail because they could very easily be assaulted from no doing of their own,” says the guard.
The guard and other jailers I’ve spoken to say they’ve seen an increase in assaults and blame the Sheriff's department for not properly classifying violent inmates to keep them away from non-violent offenders.
“There's a large gang member population that is allowed to run rampant, unchecked, and they're assaulting people,” says the guard who says they've complained and made suggestions to jail administrators. “The typical response that we get, if we get one, is usually, well, there's too many of them. There's too many of them.”
Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz insists his staff does not mix violent inmates with the rest of the population and is properly classifying offenders. “We do have a large gang population and we do have incidents. But that's to be expected and we deal with them when they occur,” says Ortiz.
The Sheriff blames complaints from some of his jailers on the fact many violent inmates are temporarily being housed in the jail annex during a major construction project in the jail. A move approved by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
“The officers that work at the annex are used to dealing with medium risk inmates. Now they’re having to supervise high risk inmates,” says Ortiz. “And we understand there is a problem because they have open bay dormitory style housing at the annex. However we've not see an increase in violent activity.”
Ortiz recently asked to have an outside consultant come in and look at jail staffing. He says eventually he'd like to have that consultant review the entire jail system - including how they classify inmates.