The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

August 17, 2013

TDCJ pigs, but not inmates, get air conditioning

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice approved a contract to purchase swine nursing tools, which includes air conditioners, according to state documents, a move civil rights activists concerned about the health risks of unair-conditioned cells called “ridiculous.”

The contract with Art’s Way Scientific, a company that builds animal housing, for $750,000 to purchase prefabricated modular farrowing units and nursing pens for their swine production program was approved in June.

The units “create the ideal environment for swine and the people who work with them. Our modular AG buildings are completely climate controlled, easy to clean and sanitize and include the most advanced swine equipment including boar isolation, gestation, farrowing, nursery, finishing, feed study and show pigs,” Dan Palmer, president of Art’s Way Scientific, said in a press release.

The seemingly standard — and quiet – purchase was met with recent criticism from the Texas Civil Rights Project, a group which in part advocates for inmate rights, after it was reported on Grits for Breakfast, a blog that focuses on Texas criminal justice issues. The group says that the deal is “ridiculous” because TDCJ does not have temperature-controlled prison cells, except for the psychiatric, hospital and geriatric wings, yet provides it for pigs.

“Fourteen prisoners have died from heat stroke in recent years,” Scott Medlock, d­irector of TCRP’s Prisoners’ Rights Program, said. “It is outrageous that TDCJ would prioritize the safety of pigs raised for slaughter over the lives of human beings. TDCJ has literally made the decision that protecting its bacon is more important than protecting human lives.”

The contract was awarded through a bidding process and would provide six additional modular buildings for the swine production facilities. According to the TDCJ website, the system already maintains five separate units that breed, farrow and wean pigs, which are readied for process at a feeding location to “(add) value to these market age pigs.”

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Local News
  • Todd Leatherland Walker County man charged with murder

    A Walker County man has been charged with murder for allegedly killing his aunt Tuesday morning.
    Todd Leatherland, 31, was booked into the Walker County Jail on Friday and his bail was set at $100,000. He was released from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bryan on Friday morning, then transported back to Walker County after he was served with a warrant for the first-degree murder charge.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carrasco Siege 40th Anniversary: ‘Final demands, final threat’

    Rebelling inmate Fred Gomez Carrasco changed his list of demands Wednesday afternoon to include only transportation and four hostages.
    In a press briefing about 3:30 p.m., Texas Dept. of Corrections spokesman Ron Taylor read a statement from Carrasco which included what the inmate described as his “final demands” and his “final threat.”

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    A touch of European driving is coming soon to New Waverly in the form of roundabouts. This circular-type intersection allows traffic to flow almost continuously in one direction around a central island.

    August 1, 2014

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    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

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    Mayor Mac Woodward told the Item on Thursday that BFI Crossroads asked for the agreement to be pulled from the Council’s agenda as of 6:47 p.m. Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Parents’ orientation planned for Head Start program in Huntsville

    The Greater East Texas Community Action Program Head Start, serving Walker County, will hold an orientation for all parents of children attending Head Start for the upcoming school year.
    Parents need to plan to attend one of the Aug. 14 sessions, either at 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. People are being asked to contact the center immediately at (936) 291-9190 if they have not yet registered for a session.

    July 31, 2014

  • Community gets ready to “Stuff the bus” for Back to School rally

    It’s almost time for Walker County students to throw on their backpacks again and head off to school. Some of those kids don’t have the much-needed, basic supplies to have a successful year.

    July 31, 2014

  • Suspect of Tuesday's homicide in custody

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  • County budget almost finalized

    Walker County officials are close to finalizing next year’s budget after the Commissioners Court held a workshop Wednesday morning.

     

    July 31, 2014

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    Fred Carrasco has “apparently discarded his demands for more weapons and has repeated a willingness to trade all the hostages he now has in exchange for five prison officials,” Kathy Pollard said Tuesday. Miss Pollard, 24, is the daughter of hostage Novella Pollard.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo