Bexar County Jail fails inspection, BCSO says

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - The Bexar County Jail failed a recent inspection by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, the Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.

While the report has not yet been completed, the Sheriff's Office said the executive director of the commission, Brandon Wood, informed Sheriff Javier Salazar the jail was out of compliance.

The Sheriff's Office on Friday said the inspector with TCJS pointed out areas of concern, including inmate recreation practices, record keeping, the assignment of non-sworn employees to inmate intake and release duties, as well as the system used to classify inmates.

Salazar said the practices the TCJS inspector took issue with have been in place for at least a decade.

"The use of civilian personnel in booking and the system used for classification of inmates are practices that have been in place as far back as 1998," Salazar said. "We will be making changes as required by TCJS. The needed corrective actions have already begun.”

The commission ruled that the jail was out of compliance in March 2018, following the escape of three murder suspects. The jail regained compliance in May 2018. Johnny Garcia, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said that, prior to the March 2018 escape, it had been "quite some time" since the jail last failed an inspection.

Immediately after the commission's most recent inspection, the Sheriff's Office removed civilian personnel from the facility. The agency said it is "looking to re-assign, reclassify, or transition" the employees to other roles within the Sheriff's Office.

The jail failed the TCJS inspection after conducting its own audit of the Justice Intake and Assessment Annex, as well as the Bexar County Adult Detention Center's Transport Hub.

The internal audit, which was launched the same day the former acting jail administrator, Ruben Vela, was suspended, found 18 areas of improvement.

Vela has since been reinstated to the role of deputy chief of the detention bureau. 

Capt. Avery Walker, the individual who assumed Vela's role as acting jail administrator when he was suspended, was promoted Tuesday to the role of deputy chief of the detention bureau and was made the permanent jail administrator. 

The Sheriff's Office explained that both Walker and Vela hold the same position of deputy chief of the detention bureau, however, Walker is the sole jail administrator.

Officials with the commission said the jail inspection report should be completed later this week.

In the meantime, the Sheriff's Office said it sent the commission proposed solutions and a plan of action regarding the TCJS' noted areas of concern.

Click here if you are unable to see the timeline of incidents at the jail below:

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