Texas Prisoner Uses Plastic Spoon to Gouge Out His Eye, Sues Prison for Understaffing

A prisoner in a Texas jail used a plastic spoon to gouge out his eye, and now he is suing the prison he claims was "deliberately understaffed."

Miguel Carrera, 20, said he was unsupervised at an East Texas psychiatric prison when he said he began having hallucinations. He told the Houston Chronicle the only thing he could find to stop his hallucinations was a plastic spoon.

He scooped out his eye, damaging nerves and connective tissue in the process. After that, he tried to rake out the other, according to the report. A guard made rounds at 6:30 a.m. to merely see if Carrera was alert, and then discovered him a couple of hours later, crawling around looking for his eye and blood all over his face.

Carrera was rushed to the hospital, where he had a five-hour surgery to try and save his remaining eye. He is now permanently blind.

Carrera reportedly had a long history of mental illness, and on the night of his personal eye gouging, he heard voices and reached for the an object to start working his eye out of socket.

Now, Carrera said the prison did not have adequate staff, or otherwise he wouldn't have acted as he did and would not have lost his sight.

Carrera and his wife have filed a lawsuit against the warden, two prison guards and the prison's medical provider, saying they left him unsupervised and with an object that could cause him harm — disregarding his history of mental illness, which includes once swallowing a Taser dart shot at him by police.

Kelly Greenwood Prather, the attorney representing Carrera, said the prison has an oversight on prisoners like Carrera, who can't protect themselves.

"The prison is both understaffed in terms of healthcare providers and guards," Prather said. "Thus, there's not appropriate care and oversight for very mentally ill prisoners who have no way to protect themselves."

Not long after the incident happened, Carrera was released from the prison. However, Prather said changes still haven't been made at the unit, thus new filings for Carrera, who is deemed unemployable by his attorney.

"He's obviously unemployable at this point with limited education and no vision. He's basically living with family and trying to figure out how to earn a living."

The new filing claims Carrera should have had been checked every 15-30 minutes, and that he wasn't given adequate medications because of budget cuts at the prison.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice this year denied allegations of understaffing its unit.

Miguel Carrera
Miguel Carrera, a 20-year-old prisoner, used a plastic spoon to gouge his eye out, and he's suing the prison for understaffing. Photo from Texas Department of Criminal Justice