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Texas Halts Inmate Transportation During Investigation of Deaths

The Texas prison system has temporarily stopped transporting inmates as it investigates how a convicted murderer escaped from a bus last month and later killed a man and his four grandsons, the Associated Press reports. “The agency is conducting an internal Serious Incident Review and also intends to bring in an outside firm to conduct an independent review to identify factors that may have led to the escape of (Gonzalo) Lopez,” the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said. The agency said if it must transport an inmate for an emergency medical appointment or for release, it will have more security. Such additional security measures were in place when a van that was transporting an inmate from a hospital to a prison in East Texas collided with another vehicle on a freeway north of Houston, according to the prison agency. Three guards were injured but were expected to survive. The inmate was in stable condition.

On any given day, authorities move about 2,000 inmates for various reasons, said Jason Clark, a Department of Criminal Justice spokesman. In a fiscal year 2020 report, there were about 121,000 individuals in state prisons and jails. Authorities believe that on Thursday, Lopez killed 66-year-old Mark Collins, and his four grandsons, Waylon Collins, 18; Carson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11; and Bryson Collins, 11. Waylon, Carson and Hudson were brothers and Bryson was their cousin. State Sen. John Whitmire, who had called for a temporary halt in inmate transports, praised the prison agency’s move, saying, “While the investigation continues into exactly what happened with the recent escape and tragic murder of 5 members of the Collins family, we must act swiftly to ensure no other Texan is in danger of losing their life or being harmed by an escaped inmate being transported on Texas roads.” A legislative panel will likely hold a hearing this summer to review what happened and prison system policies related to transporting inmates.


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