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Harris County Sheriff Promises Recent Jail Incident ‘Won’t Happen Again’

Sheriff makes several policy changes after inmate was found in deplorable conditions.

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Sheriff Garcia
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia speaks to reporters at the Baker Street jail.

Terry Goodwin, an inmate with a history of mental illness, was reportedly left in a cell for weeks without being let out.

A jail compliance inspector found him about a year ago amid an overflowing toilet, and food containers infested with bugs.

But the incident was never reported to Sheriff Adrian Garcia. He said he never heard about the incident until an investigative reporter started asking questions about it recently.

Garcia has now announced that he has made some changes to keep a similar incident from happening again.

“A new bureau has been established in the Harris County Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “The Jail Compliance and Inspections Bureau will be led by a major, captain and lieutenant, tasked with more aggressive and regular inspection and regulation of jail quality of life, complaints and standards.”

That bureau will brief the command staff on inmates’ condition on a weekly basis.

In addition, Garcia has instructed his lieutenants to perform regular quality of life checks and expanded mental health training to officers.

There’s also a new page on the Harris County Sheriff’s Office website where family members can express concerns about inmate care. Those will be sent to the new bureau.

And a new tip line lets staff log complaints and observations with the human resources department.

The changes come amidst an investigation into the matter by the Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

Garcia said he wants to wait for the outcome of the investigation before taking disciplinary action.

“I want to understand how this happens,” he said. “I’m not going to shoot first and ask questions later. I want to be surgical in my strike when decisions need to be made.”

But he said there will most likely be some firings when the investigation is concluded.

Goodwin is now in state jail. He is serving a three-year sentence for assaulting a Harris County detention officer.

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