Jun 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Gonzalo Lopez's escape prompts Texas to pause inmate transports

A sign from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Photo: Chantal Valery/AFP via Getty Images

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Monday it has temporarily suspended the transport of inmates as the agency conducts a review of its transportation practices in the wake of Gonzalo Lopez's escape.

Why it matters: Lopez, a convicted murderer, escaped from authorities last month while on a prison transport bus. He was later killed in a shootout with police, per the Associated Press.

The latest: The Texas DCJ told Axios in a statement it will suspend future transports while an investigation is conducted, but "additional security measures will be implemented" if more transports are needed for "releasing or an emergency medical appointment."

  • The agency said it is conducting an internal review of its practices "and also intends to bring in an outside firm to conduct an independent review to identify factors that may have led [sic] to the escape of Lopez."

Flashback: State Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) called on the Texas DCJ on Monday to suspend inmate transport buses until new safeguards are put in place to prevent further escapes, per KTRK.

  • "If they are on a bus, there should be a trailing security officer armed to make certain that if something went wrong on the bus, the inmate does not escape," Whitmire said.

Lopez, who was serving a life sentence, was being transported to a medical appointment when he escaped, the Associated Press reports. He freed himself from leg and hand restraints before attacking the bus driver.

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