Galveston Jail Scandal: 1,300 Inmates Locked Up in Hurricane Death Zone as “Water Six Feet High”



It has now been revealed that the 1,300 inmates at Galveston Jail were forced to stay in the Galveston area during the hurricane, according to a news report in the HERALD TRIBUNE today.

Other reports state that the water levels reached six-feet high in the adjoining Court House and that there is no power or running water, with orders from the  authorities to boil all water in Galveston before drinking it.  The power outage is expected to be the longest in history for the state.

US Government authorities have expressed their concern for the well-being of residents who remained in the coastal region during the worst storm in Texas in fifty years.  Although Galveston Jail is described as “hurricane-proof” it is only one storey high.

A large number of the inmates are on remand and not (yet) convicted of any crime and many are in there for minor larcenies.


In Galveston, despite the order to leave, officials decided not to evacuate the 1,000 prisoners at the county jail for security reasons.

The effects of the storm were being felt as far away as New Orleans, where winds from Hurricane Ike’s outer bands gusted Friday morning at more than 50 m.p.h. The storm surge forced the closing of floodgates on drainage canals in the city, and people in coastal communities at its suburban edge were ordered to evacuate. The storm’s surge flooded roads and streets around coastal Louisiana on Friday afternoon, with the small communities close to the Gulf of Mexico reporting as much as two feet of water in some places.

It is not known as of yet whether the Galveston Jail inmates were evacuated ahead of Hurricane Ike, especially as the struture was boasted as being “hurricane-proof” in structure, by the prison chief, but it has been confirmed that a total of 5,000 prisoners have been transferred from the hazard zones to higher gorund further inland.

  • Brazoria County (288,000 people)
  • Jefferson County (244,000)
  • Orange County (84,000)
  • Galveston County (283,987)
  • Galveston Island (58,000)
  • The city of La Porte (34,200)
  • Eastern portion of San Patricio County
  • Low-lying areas of Harris County (“tens of thousands,” according to county officials)
  • Low-lying areas of Chambers County
  • Areas south of Texas 35 and the Blessing area in Matagorda County
  • Goose Island and Mustang Island state parks

Voluntary evacuations

  • Hardin County
  • Areas north of Texas 35 in Matagorda County, as well as for residents of low-lying areas of Bay City and Van Vleck.
  • The city of Kingsville.
  • About 5,000 prison inmates were relocated from areas threatened by the storm to facilities farther inland, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said

Mandatory’>…992250&nav=0s3dJ8jW%7D”%5DMandatory evacuations with approximate population totals where available

GALVESTON’>…891294c3fe8773db”%5DGALVESTON — Officials with the Galveston County Sheriffs Office fielded calls Friday from relatives of prisoners, who weren’t evacuated from Galveston ahead of Hurricane Ike’s anticipated landfall.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Maj. Ray Tuttoilmondo, citing security concerns, declined to discuss plans for the jail, which holds roughly 1,300 prisoners. “The inmates are safe, sound, and the jail is high and dry,” Tuttoilmondo said.

Dorothy Nuzzo said her son David Pain called her at 3:15 p.m., using a calling card.

“I heard this morning they were supposed to evacuate around noon,” Nuzzo said. “He said, ‘Mom. I’m worried, scared and hungry. All of us are here cramped into this little room on the first floor. The flood waters are rising and we’re not going to evacuate.’”

Nuzzo said her son didn’t see water in the jail, but heard it was rising on the island.

“I called but they’re not answering the phones. It’s ludicrous they left the inmates there.”

Galveston Jail is on one level and if the storm surge is 20 feet as has been quoted, then this will clear the storm wall protecting the island by three feet, leaving the island submerged.

Latest reports are that the surge did not violate the wall, but large parts of of the area are under water.

While 57,000 residents of Galveston were evacuated and stragglers still there on Friday were rescued by helicopter, fire engine and surfboard, concerns are growing for the 1,000 inmates of Galveston Prison who were still incarcerated on the bay island’s prison, at 10:00am FRIDAY MORNING.

However’>…inas-worst-horrors/”%5DHowever, this concern for human life may not extend to one group of people who can’t leave the low-lying barrier island if they want—the 1,000 inmates at the Galveston County Jail. As of 10 a.m. Friday, the prisoners still had not been evacuated to the mainland. Sheriff’s department spokesman Ray Tuttoilmondo told the <a href=>Houston Chronicle</a> that “the prisoners and their safety and well-being are paramount and it will be handled” and any decision to move the prisoners would be kept secret for security reasons.

This may be. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that one of the many horrors of Hurricane Katrina was the <a href=>abandonment of the prisoners at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP)</a> who were locked in and left to their fate when floodwaters rose and their guards fled for high ground. Many inmates survived (just barely) standing in chest deep water for a day-and-a-half with no food or water before they were hauled away in some cases to maximum security state prisons. It is believed that some of the inmates at OPP <a href=>drowned in their cells</a>.

Keep in mind that those held in local jails are often petty criminals at worst, people tagged for public drunkenness, bounced checks, unpaid traffic tickets or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s likely that a substantial number of the inmates at the Galveston County Jail have been convicted of nothing at all and languish in jail because they cannot make bail and be released in advance of their trial date. And most of these people have families who are likely freaking out about what’s going to become of them. So hopefully the sheriff’s department was just being coy about its plans and has done the right thing in regards to the prisoners. If so, at least one needless tragedy will be avoided in what is likely to be an enormous catastrophe.


Will Hurricane Ike bring the inmates of Galveston Jail a “Get out of Jail” card?  It is speculated there will be a top secret evacuation just before the the hurricane arrives, as happened with Hurricane Rita in 2004.

Houston Airport closes at 2:00 pm Saturday, with flights grounded.

GALVESTON — About 1,000 prisoners and a full jail staff remained in the Galveston County Jail on Galveston Island this morning, even as the island began to be battered by the onslaught of Hurricane Ike.

The reason for not evacuating the prisoners is a security issue and cannot be discussed, sheriff’s spokesman Maj. Ray Tuttoilmondo said.

“The prisoners and their safety and well-being are paramount and it will be handled,” Tuttoilmondo said.

Any decision to move the prisoners would be kept secret for security reasons, as happened before Hurricane Rita in 2005, he said.

“We did this during Rita and no one knew until it was absolutely done,” Tuttoilmondo said.

The prisoners were in the jail as of 10 a.m. today, leaving little time to transfer them to the mainland. Hurricane-force winds are expected to strike the island later today, making exit across the causeway to the mainland difficult.

Tuttoilmondo declined to say how many deputies were at the jail, but said a full jail staff and relief shifts remained on duty at the lockup at 57th Street and Broadway.

He also declined to discuss measures the Sheriff’s Office would take to make sure the prisoners and jail staff remained safe if a storm surge floods the jail.

The structure was specially designed to withstand hurricanes, Tuttoilmondo noted.

Main source:


One Response to “Galveston Jail Scandal: 1,300 Inmates Locked Up in Hurricane Death Zone as “Water Six Feet High””

  1. Thank you – enjoy the articles…..

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