Head Of Texas Juvenile Prison Fired Amid Investigation Of Inmate Abuse

Friday, April 27th 2007, 9:52 pm
By: News On 6

HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) _ The superintendent of a high-security juvenile prison is being fired amid allegations of inmate abuse there, the state youth prison agency said Friday.

Bart Caldwell, superintendent of the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg, was notified Thursday that he is losing his job, said Texas Youth Commission spokesman Jim Hurley.

The firing comes as part of a sweeping probe of the youth prison system.

``We have right around 3,000 complaints through our system,'' Hurley said. ``TYC problems are a lot more than just Evins.''

Caldwell had no comment Friday.

State officials said last month that they had opened 27 investigations into inmate complaints at Evins. The announcement came a day after a scathing federal report decried ``chaotic and dangerous'' conditions there.

The Justice Department found that the prison violated inmates' constitutional rights with high levels of violence, overcrowding, and not enough guards.

Its report said that inmate-on-inmate assaults were five times the national average for a comparable facility, and that youths frequently fought each other without staff noticing or intervening. The report warned the state to resolve the issue or possibly be sued by the federal government.

Of the state investigations, four involved sexual assault claims and five sexual misconduct. Two others involved allegations of inappropriate relationships between staff members and inmates. Three were for physical assault.

Investigators were sent to all Youth Commission centers in early March after revelations that high-ranking officials at the West Texas State School in Pyote had repeated sexual contact with inmates. Staffers' reports about the abuse had been either ignored or covered up.