In this case about privately run prisons in Texas, inmates alleged abused in procedures, untrained staff, invasive strip searches and beatings. The Court refers to the sheriff’s terminology “ninja squad” as a reference to emergency response teams.


Kesler v. King (1998)

JAMES T. KESLER, ET AL., v. BRAZORIA COUNTY SHERIFF KING, ET AL.
CIVIL ACTION NO. G-96-703
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS, GALVESTON DIVISION
29 F. Supp. 2d 356

Decided – December 7, 1998

Opinion by Samuel B. Kent:

The first group of Missouri inmates arrived at the CCRI facility on September 16, 1996. Upon their arrival, according to testimony, the inmates began acting in a “boisterous” manner. Shortly after they arrived, Sheriff King called Warden Crawford into his office to find out why the inmates were being so loud. Crawford responded that he hoped they would settle down, but that if he had to go in and settle them down, he would need assistance from the Sheriff’s Office because he did not have enough experienced personnel to handle the task. King responded somewhat cryptically, instructing Crawford that he should tell the inmates to settle down or they would face his “Ninja Squad.” Crawford relayed the message; later, he personally responded to reports of unruly conduct by the inmates and settled them down peacefully.

In concluding to dismiss some of the claims, the Court is mindful of the atrocity of the claims and the competing state and private interests:

The Court understands that overseeing and working within a jail or prison environment is a difficult task.

The injection of profit-seeking into the prison environment complicates this inherent difficulty.

Plaintiffs have produced evidence that they were kicked, bitten, and shocked. They have produced evidence that they were forced to strip naked in groups and subjected to full cavity searches, many of them conducted in full view by prison staff with absolutely no training or experience in executing such searches. They have produced evidence that at least a dozen inmates suffered vicious and unprovoked beatings at the hand of CCRI personnel and that grievances filed in every single instance with Brazoria County officials produced no response. Evidence such as this paints a grim picture of the actions of Defendants. If Defendant Brazoria County and its officials choose to farm out a portion of their jail to some quack private prison corporation in return for substantial profits for housing another state’s inmates, that is a matter between them and their citizens. If, however, there is evidence that those Defendants have utterly abandoned their duty to safeguard the essential human rights of these inmate commodities, that is a matter between them and this United States District Court.

However, the Court finds that Defendant Brazoria County is entitled to sovereign immunity with respect to Plaintiffs’ state law intentional tort and negligence claims

Here again we see another instance of correctional response teams called ninja. This seems to relate to both their attire and their tendency toward excessive force.

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