Houston, We Have A Problem: ‘Chronicle’ Probes 101 Inmate Deaths


At least 101 inmates died in the custody of the Harris County Jail between January 2001 to December 2006.

That’s according to a Houston Chronicle review of state and county records published Monday.

The newspaper said that at least 72 of the inmates had been awaiting court hearings and had yet to be convicted of the crimes that led to their incarceration at the time of their deaths.

Through records and interviews, the study found that one-third of the deaths involved questions of inadequate responses from guards and staff, failure by jail officials to provide inmates with essential medical and psychiatric care and medications, unsanitary conditions, and two allegations of physical abuse by guards.

Eleven of the deaths involved infections and illnesses that suggest sanitation problems and ten other cases suggest possible neglect.

No jail staffers were found to have directly contributed to any of the deaths.

As a comparison, there where 70 deaths in the Dallas County Jail in the same time period.

In written responses to questions Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas said jail officials conduct medical screenings on more than 9,100 prisoners housed in the jail each month.

He says the “delivery of health care to inmates is further challenged by the fact that many inmates lacked preventative health care in the free world, many suffered from substance abuse prior to incarceration, and many come to jail with chronic, untreated medical conditions.”

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