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Dozens of French Robertson Unit staff reprimanded, 1 fired for bringing in contraband

(Scott Martin/KTXS){p}{/p}
(Scott Martin/KTXS)

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A list obtained by KTXS from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) said that 51 French Robertson Unit staff members were disciplined and one of those staff members was fired for bringing in contraband between January 1, 2013 to July 3, 2019, a six-and-a-half-year span.

The TDCJ describes contraband as being "any object, substance or material forbidden by unit or Correctional Institutions Divisions rules or state law from being in an offender's possession."

KTXS asked how many of the 51 French Robertson Unit staff members were disciplined for bringing drugs into the prison, but the TDCJ said that because of an antiquated computer system, that information "is not available."

The TDCJ also said that out of the 400 staff members at the French Robertson Unit, the number of contraband disciplines "are below average for disciplinary action and contraband issues as compared to the other 103 state prisons in Texas."

Earlier in the month, KTXS interviewed a former French Robertson Unit corrections officer and hid their identity.

The former TDCJ worker said that drugs are going in and out of the prison at an alarming rate.

"There's a lot of K2 that's being brought in, majority through staff, sometimes it does come through visitation, which is family members, but 90 percent of the time, it's through the staff," the former corrections officer said.

In June, French Robertson Unit inmate Seth Donnelly died after being rushed to Hendrick Medical Center and toxicology reports revealed that he had meth in his system.

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The TDCJ provided KTXS with the following statement related to contraband:

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has a zero tolerance policy for contraband of all types. That can range from cell phones to illicit drugs to a number of other items that could do harm in a prison environment. Despite significant efforts including pat searches and metal detectors for all who enter prison units including employees, specialized teams trained to search the facilities constantly, specially trained canine teams and other tactics there is still contraband that does enter TDCJ Units.
Trafficking and trading, and the potential for extortion and undue influence they create, are serious threats to the security of correctional institutions
Providing such items of contraband to offenders has long been a violation of agency policy and has been punishable by administrative sanctions which could include termination of visitation privileges or employment. State Law also allows for criminal punishment as a third degree felony with a fine not to exceed $10,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years.
While the law permits criminal prosecution of those smuggling these contraband items, the real intent is to deter individuals from ever committing such acts.
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