The numbers of people dying in county jails are adding up in 2014—and the recent death of 18-year-old Victoria Gray was especially tragic and needless. She died in September in the Brazoria County Jail after that jail failed in so many ways, it will take a full investigation to find the truth and hold officers and officials accountable. So many people are dying, most of them not yet convicted, and yet their deaths are not always investigated. (Our list is only of deaths within county jails, not police custody.) Earlier this year, when Courtney Ruth Elmore died in the Brown County Jail, was staff properly trained to watch for respiratory failure? David Grimaldo, 18, a Perryton High School student died just hours after being booked into the Ochiltree County Jail. Sheriff Joe Hataway reported that the teen died of a medical condition—could a quicker response have prevented his death?
Posts Tagged ‘ Inmate death ’
Linell Redden lost her beloved husband Robert to the Denton county jail, a place often accused of having poor medical care and indifferent staff. She gives her insightful comments on the 8th anniversary of his death.
“The inmates need to be given the benefit of the doubt when they have a potential life threatening complaint and they should be treated the sameway they’d be treated in any other any doctor’s office. Protocols need to constantly be reviewed and adhered to, and sometimes common sense needs to come into play. Don’t listen to those staff who insinuate inmates are going to the infirmary to do some easy time or because they want to look at a pretty nurse….a person in jail can be sick and if untreated, they can and do die.”
Hank died a terrible, unnecessary death in the Bowie County Jail, which is run by a private prison company with a bad reputation: Community Education Centers. I always suspected the family would have a good case if they decided to sue. Last week, I receieved a noted from Dr. Parks, Hank’s good friend, and then I saw the story in the Washington Times about the federal lawsuit.
His family members and a close friend contacted Texas Jail Project soon after his death in 2012 and gave us all the information as they agonized over his painful death. We encouraged them to write the following bio of his life (On the next page) Their bio is full of rich details and stories of a life well lived, of a man valued by his community, especially the little boys he took fishing. We hope the jail staff reads it and thinks of him every time somebody in their facility is in pain and calling out for help.
A Texas jail may be a model for the newly proposed bill in California to ban the practice of dumping people out of county jails in the dark of night! Texas Jail Project feels some ownership of the idea: in 2011 we supported SB 1014 bill by bringing stories and people to the legislative committees, demonstrating cases of trauma and even death where Texans were released at rural and urban county jails. Senator Whitmire’s support and the grim accounts resulted in Harris County Jail stopping its policy of mass releases at night. This excellent article describes how California Senator Liu’s bill will try to ban their late night releases–a worthy goal in light of the tragic and needless death of Mitrice Richardson, a beautiful young woman released from the Malibu jail in the wee hours and later found dead.
Betty Madewell speaks fondly of her son, Bobby. 51-year-old Bobby Madewell, Jr died last March in the Gregg county jail. His family filed a lawsuit against the jail just a few weeks ago. The days are a little longer now for Betty Madewell of Longview, who says she is still mourning the loss of her son, Bobby.”It’s very hard, we miss him dearly. We miss him every day,” she says.
Bosque County Sheriff Anthony Mallot rejected a legitimate request for information about the death of April Troyn, by dragging out a response for almost four months. The AG’s office told Bosque County that the sheriff could not refuse to answer questions by using the old HIPPA/privacy excuse that is used SO OFTEN by Texas county jails. Especially since the four-page Death in Custody report has no medical information that would come under the federal privacy law.
““The Office of the Attorney General has determined the four-page report and summary must be released to the public…” said Kenneth Leland Conyer, an Assistant Attorney General with the office’s Open Records Division. Read this story from the exciting Watchdog Wire.
“Watchdog Wire exists to train citizens just like you to be citizen journalists and provide a place to feature your work. By covering stories in your local community that are otherwise ignored by the establishment media, you can make a difference! We partner with you to provide the training, the platform and the coaching you need to be government watchdogs in your own cities and states.”
Do jailers in Ector County view the inmates as human beings? It wouldn’t seem so, by the way they treat them. Texas Jail Project wonders if they have any sense that they are responsible for the lives of people loved and cherished by family members. Like Guadulpe Dominguez Leyva, who died in Ector County Jail in 2011. The lawsuit has been filed and it reveals that her husband and family knew that the 45 year old woman needed help for her serious mental disorders and agonizing physical pain. Her daughter contacted the Ector County Detention Center some 20 times to complain about her mother’s health, and was ignored, like many other family members in Texas–in Brazoria and Gregg and Nueces and Montgomery counties. In that same year, 32-year-old Juan Carrasco suffered a seizure while being booked into the Ector County Detention Center hitting his head on the concrete floor, and they took him to the hospital but his family was not notified until almost 12 hours after he arrived at the hospital. Did officers ever think how important Carrasco was to his family? Carrasco died after being taken off life-support on his 33rd birthday.
Now another inmate has died. John Douglas Turner died in his cell this month. His friend said he has been begging for relief from an infected tooth for months. Just another complaining inmate, right? Complaining until he died at 36 years of age.
Our sympathies to the family of Debra Ingram Duffie. I thought I had brought up an old email by mistake when I saw the words Inmate Dies at Gregg County Jail. Surely this was a story about one of others who’ve died there since 2010, like Amy Lynn and Aaron, and previously, Misty Beene. This year, Bobby Madewell died there, no doubt also under the tender mercies and neglectful care of Gregg County’s medical staff and notorious Dr. Lewis Browne. Now, a new person has died, but they managed to get her off site so technically she wasn’t a jail death. Still the same because we suspect if she’d gotten decent care, if she’d been on the outside, she might have lived. Our sympathies to Ms. Duffie’s family. Please tell them to email or call Texas Jail Project.
We must remember Craig Morris. He was the human being who was allowed to die on a cold concrete floor at the Dallas County Jail because jailers didn’t think he needed medical care. They said they saw him but thought the floor “must have felt good to him.” But others saw this: a man who was at various times “confused, shaking and seemingly in pain. He was wheezing, hacking, breathing with difficulty, coughing up yellow-green phlegm, soiling himself and slumped over the shower floor.” God help you if you need medical help in the Dallas County Jail because the jailers won’t.
San Antonio Current writer Michael Barajas is leaving the paper and pursuing other goals, and we will miss his throrough coverage of issues related to inmates in the jails of San Antonio. This last story reveals so much about the inner workings of an understaffed and dysfunctional jail that it reads like a book, but Barajas also does a smpathetic and intelligent analysis of a young man’s life and tragic death. We can hope that Tommy Taylor’s seven hours in the jail will lead to a better jail, but we also have to hope the Current finds a reporter/writer who can cover stories with the passion Barajas brought to these cases.