Missouri prisoners say beatings worse than shown on videotape
Aug. 27, 1997
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri officials agreed Wednesday to investigate prisoners' claims that they suffered beatings worse than those shown in a videotape that led to their being removed from a Texas jail.
Corrections Director Dora Schriro said she had not heard those allegations before they were reported Wednesday by The Kansas City Star.
Inmates told the newspaper that guards at the Brazoria County Detention Center used cattle prods and other forms of intimidation to win respect and force prisoners to say, ``I love Texas.''
``What you saw on tape wasn't a fraction of what happened that day,'' said inmate Lewis Watkins, referring to the videotaped cellblock raid of Sept. 18, 1996. ``I've never seen anything like that in the movies.''
The tape shows guards dragging inmates, forcing some to crawl naked on the floor, and a German shepherd biting one inmate's leg.
A private company, Capital Correctional Resources Inc., handled overflow Missouri inmates at the jail near Houston.
Dennis Walker, CCRI's vice president for security, denied that guards routinely abused prisoners, and suggested that inmates were embellishing their stories.
After Schriro viewed the videotape two weeks ago, she canceled the contract with Brazoria County and brought all 415 inmates back to already overcrowded Missouri prisons. About 400 others are being brought back from two other Texas counties where CCRI handled Missouri inmates.
Missouri sued the Brazoria County jail Monday, accusing it of breaking its contract by hiding the abuse of prisoners.
At a hearing Wednesday, state Judge Byron Kinder ordered Brazoria County officials to hand over within 10 days numerous documents on inmate grievances and injuries and guards' use of force.
Hank Prejean, the Brazoria County civil district attorney, said he thought Missouri officials already had received all of the requested documents. But Schriro said, ``I'm concerned that records have been withheld from us.''