Sheriff Explains Prisoner Transport Protocols

Sheriff Explains Prisoner Transport Protocols

by Kim Powell

NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - A train roaring by at high speeds was the final image that the 10 victims experienced before the freak accident took their lives.

"Anytime you have any kind of a vehicle that strikes a train, that vehicle's going to lose," Midland County Sheriff, Gary Painter, said.

Officials say it's standard procedure that the prisoners were handcuffed to each other in pairs.

"That is to transport them safely to keep them from running, try to keep them from fighting, to keep down any problems," Painter said.

State law only requires the driver to wear a seat belt on commercial or transport buses and officials say the bus was in full compliance with state and federal laws.

"I doubt very seriously that seat belts would have changed the outcome," Sheriff Painter said.

Dozens of inmates are transported through the Permian Basin at least once a week and the vehicles can carry up to 15 prisoners. They're typically taken to a different facility after they have been sentenced in court.

But what happened on Wednesday was something that no one could prepare for.

"Very sad and my prayers and my thoughts go out to the families involved, both the officers as well as the inmates," Painter said."They shouldn't have to have gone through that and have that kind of thing happen to their family."

An investigation is underway to see if any future changes need to be made regarding inmate transportation.