New Texas Sheriff Closes “Animal House” Jail


Texas’s Montague County Jail used to be “Animal House” meets Mayberry, reports the Associated Press. Inmates had the run of the small brick building across from the courthouse, having sex with jailer girlfriends, bringing in recliners, taking drugs, and chatting on cell phones supplied by friends or guards. They disabled some of the surveillance cameras and made weapons out of nails. AP says the jailhouse escapades have rocked Montague, a farming and ranching town of several hundred people near the Oklahoma line.

Last month, a grand jury returned a 106-count indictment against the former sheriff and 16 others. The indictment charged Bill Keating, sheriff from 2004 until December, with oppression and having sex with female inmates. The others indicted include nine guards who were charged with various offenses involving sex or drugs and other contraband. Four inmates were charged. New sheriff Paul Cunningham said he was stunned while touring the jail after being sworn into office Jan. 1. He saw partitions made of paper towels that blocked jailers’ view into cells, and pills scattered about. He immediately closed the jail and moved the 60 inmates to another institution. “It literally scared me – not for myself but for the employees,” Cunningham said. “How somebody kept from being killed was beyond me.”

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