Texas prisons resume inmate transport with tougher security

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Texas prison system officials will resume inmate transportation Monday with tougher security after a convicted murderer escaped a prison van and killed five people, officials said.

In a statement, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said inmate transportation would resume with three corrections officers for each transport instead of the previous two and other new security measures.

Prison officials had suspended non-emergency trips after Gonzalo Lopez slipped his restraints and cage, stabbed the driver, and escaped a prison van last month. He went on to kill five members of a Houston-area family before law enforcement officers killed him in South Texas, authorities said.

Other new security measures for transporting inmates from prisons include enhanced searches of inmates before they board prison vans. Inmates had previously been strip-searched before they boarded prison vehicles, prison system spokesman Jason Clark said Sunday. He declined to say what form the enhanced searches would take.

Prison officials would install new video surveillance equipment in transport vehicles, transport inmates determined to pose the highest risk by themselves and enhance onsite medical capabilities to reduce the need for offsite transport.

Meanwhile, a previously announced independent security review of what allowed Lopez to escape would continue by an outside party, according to the TDCJ statement.

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