TDCJ Mistakes Leading Up to Inmate Escape: The flaws that allowed Gonzalo Lopez, an inmate in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, to escape in May have been revealed in newly disclosed records. After evading a transportation bus, Lopez remained on the run for a considerable amount of time.
He shot and killed a family of five in Centerville before being slain himself by police. CGL, an independent prisons facility expert group, reviewed TDCJ policy, surveillance footage, and facilities to identify the circumstances behind Lopez’s escape.
A combination of routine security lapses at TDCJ and those that allowed Lopez to escape being blamed for his freedom. The investigation states that on the day of the breakout, just 60% of the prison employees assigned to Lopez’s unit were present.
People often complain about the pandemonium on the bus and the unclear policies that exist. It took Lopez 90 minutes to go through a metal door and reach prison employees after he finally boarded the transport bus with two metal weapons and what seems to be a handcuff key in his mouth, as described in the report.
#breaking Seven months after the prison escape that left five people dead, TDCJ has finally released their investigation into what happened.
Here’s the press release. I’m reading through the reports right now and will update. pic.twitter.com/v9DGA0Zad5
— Keri Blakinger (@keribla) December 8, 2022
“when major incidents of this type occur in a custodial context, it is not a single fault that leads to the incident, but the accumulation of several failures,” the paper adds. Exactly like the Lopez escape, for example.
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Prison officials skimped on staffing. Guards skipped required strip searches and failed to use metal detectors.
— The Marshall Project (@MarshallProj) December 7, 2022
Lopez’s disregard for TDCJ policy began before he escaped and persisted throughout his ordeal. Multiple insufficient strip searches, no property search, sloppy shackles, and no use of the BOSS (Body Orifice Security Scanner) chair all increased Lopez’s chances of evading capture.
— The Marshall Project (@MarshallProj) December 6, 2022
The investigation says, “If any of these procedures had been carried out by established policy, it is highly likely that the escape would have been prevented.” The report also includes testimony from inmates who rode the bus with Lopez on the day he escaped, stating he made preparations to bolt.
Since the summer killings, Texas officials have shared few details about what exactly went wrong.
But an investigation by @MarshallProj and @HoustonChron found the escape was the result of a cascade of security lapses — many of which were preventable. https://t.co/KN7mFN6Odj
— craig newmark (@craignewmark) December 8, 2022
More than 20 TDCJ employees and supervisors have been disciplined for policy violations. Multiple prison officers allegedly faked cell search logs, which were discovered during an investigation by the state. KBTX plans to keep up with the developments of these probes.
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