Texas' final death-in-custody total for 2014 reached a whopping 615 people by year's end, according to the master list (xls) maintained by the Texas Attorney General, including 410 people who died in custody of TDCJ and 205 people who in custody of local jails or officers in the field. By comparison, the state executed ten people in 2014.
In December, TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark sent Grits data regarding deaths in custody at TDCJ in recent years. Adding last year's total, here's the updated list for context:
That's an average of 430 prisoner deaths per year at TDCJ over the last eight years, with last year on the low end of the range. These deaths were never scheduled, thus never delayed, and for the most part no newspaper reporter ever told their stories. But they remain just as dead as the men and women killed in the execution chamber, their families grieve as ardently. Dead is dead, even if humans seem to suffer from a desire to make some deaths matter more than others. It's all the same to the deceased.
DATA NOTE: Memo to the new AG Ken Paxton: Please link to individual death in custody reports from the OAG page listing them instead of only posting the names and excel file so people must file open records requests for them. That wastes everyone's time - the agency's and requestors' - and erects needless barriers between the information and people who might use it. Those reports are irrefutably public records about which there is inherently a high degree of public interest. Why not be proactive about making them accessible?