Beyond City Limits
Charging that a prison guard who repeatedly raped 22-year-old Nathan Essary wasn't punished until Essary provided DNA evidence of the assaults, the ACLU's National Prisoner Project filed last week its second lawsuit this year regarding prisoner rape in Texas. The ACLU's latest complaint describes how the assaults on Essary, a prisoner at the Luther Unit, included threats by officer Michael Chaney to make Essary's life a "living hell," and to pay prison gangs to have him killed if he didn't continue submitting to rape. Chaney resigned in January and was indicted in May for sexual assault. The ACLU lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages on Essary's behalf as well as court monitoring of prisons' responses to prisoner complaints. Last year, Human Rights Watch deemed Texas the worst state in the U.S. for prisoner rape. -- L.A.
As Mayor Gus Garcia noted this week, no member of the Austin City Council is under indictment. Same can't be said for San Antonio, where council members Enrique "Kike" Martin and John Sanders, along with two lawyers, face federal bribery charges. The two allegedly took cash to change their votes on granting the city's tax-collection contract to the lawyers' firm. Prosecutors say more indictments may be coming. -- M.C.M.
Closing the Funeral-gate: Three years ago, the Texas Funeral Service Commission was all but declared dead when the state comptroller's office took over the agency's day-to-day affairs. But next month, TFSC chair Harry Whittington will head to the governor's mansion to pick up an award from the Texas Incentive and Productivity Commission, which rewards agencies and employees for improving performance and saving the state money. "This should inspire our group, which had pretty much been beaten down over the years," says Whittington, whom former Gov. George W. Bush appointed board chair in 1999. (Bush was then a key figure in the "Funeralgate" controversy.) New oversight rules have gone into place since then, and the agency has grown; it now regulates cemeteries as well as the state's crematories. The latter is a fast-growing industry in Texas, Whittington says; of the 57 facilities in the state, three are in Austin. -- A.S.
It's a tough job market out there, but there's one field with plentiful openings: The Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice has a "critical" need for corrections officers. The beginning salary is $1,716 per month; tasks include often-strenuous duties such as observing, supervising, and (if need be) restraining offenders, but also fun activities like searching, counting, and following rules. "With so many units around the state, you will have a good chance of working in the area of your choice," the department notes. For job listings, visit www.tdcj.state.tx.us. (Convicted felons need not apply.) -- L.A.