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Private prison in Texas holding Idaho offenders again loses running water in pandemic

Private prison in Texas holding Idaho offenders again loses running water in pandemic

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Prison fence, jail

BOISE — The Eagle Pass Correctional Facility in Eagle Pass, Texas, which holds 610 Idaho offenders, again lost access to running water and communication services during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Idaho Department of Correction contracts with the private prison to hold some inmates because Idaho does not have enough beds to house them in-state. Water pressure has been restored, but communication lines were still down on Wednesday afternoon.

As of Wednesday, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus among the inmate population in Eagle Pass.

The county water main that supplies water to the prison was damaged on July 5. That damage occurred when a Maverick County, Texas, firetruck parked on top of the line while firefighters were putting out a vehicle blaze about a mile away, according to IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray.

“The Eagle Pass Correctional Facility lost water service for a few hours while the main was repaired,” Ray said in an email. “During that time, water from a water tower was available to flush toilets at the facility. A water truck was brought to the facility as a back-up measure.”

But again, on Tuesday, the facility lost water pressure and Maverick County investigated.

“The crew found the line was leaking at the location where repairs were made as a result of the damage that occurred on July 5,” Ray said.

Again, the water tower was used to flush toilets and the men were supplied with bottled water.

“While repairing the water line, the county repair crew cut the internet and telephone lines to the facility that run just above the water line,” Ray said. “As of yesterday afternoon, the water main had been repaired, and a crew was working to restore communication services.”

The facility lost water pressure in April as well, after a nearby water main broke.

The Texas prison is owned and operated by a private corporation, the GEO Group.

Visitation and volunteer groups have been suspended at the facility because of the pandemic. Eagle Pass continues to comply with all orders from the Texas governor related to COVID-19 measures for jails and correctional facilities.

As of Tuesday, Maverick County, Texas, where the prison is located, was reporting 497 active cases of coronavirus.

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