Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Texas saw 615 deaths in custody statewide in 2014; more than 400 at TDCJ

Because the MSM covers the death penalty so closely, one frequently sees headlines like this one - "Texas inmate set to die Wednesday gets reprieve" - whenever scheduled executions are delayed. But we seldom see comparable coverage regarding TDCJ inmates' unscheduled deaths, which occur on average more than once per day. 

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:

Deaths in custody at TDCJ

2007 – 436
2008 – 469
2009 – 424
2010 – 382
2011 – 418
2012 – 463
2013 – 443
2014 – 410

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?

18 comments:

cc said...

How many people were in statewide custody in 2014? At TDCJ? What's the probability of anyone dying?

sunray's wench said...

cc - the average number in TDCJ is around 140,000.

Scott - the figures by themselves look static, but if TDCJ is to be helpful, they should include them with a breakdown by age group and cause of death.

Anonymous said...

An mentally ill inmate at the Skyview hospital was placed in an un-necessary and TDCJ-prohibited choke-hold just this past December.

Now, he did not die as he was able to utter: "I cant breathe!" and the stupid asshole guard released the choke-hold that he claims to have initiated out of fear -- he had not been physically attacked, the inmate just refused to follow an order. Yes, it was an important order, but the inmate was not physically harming anyone!

Now: this inmate is alive by a miracle......by the way: no cameras were present and higher rank was only called AFTER the incident. For those who do not know: Skyview is supposed to be a hospital!
This same patient, while at the Allred Unit, had his head smashed on the ground several times and was so beaten up in his face (by the asshole guards)that he was in the infirmary for several weeks. Again, no cameras during the use of excessive force. At the time, the Allred unit had a serious history of abusing prisoners and using excessive force without following TDCJ established protocol.
So! I AM NOT AT ALL SURPRISED IF STATS SHOW A LARGE AMOUNT OF DEATHS!
Many are probably covered up as being "natural".
There are many, many other serious problems with the "delivery of medical care."
For example: if an inmate is too sick to go to pill window, first he does not get his medines; second, he is punished by having his meds withdrawn because he "did not show up at pill window.
- Pill windows are plagued by long lines and if an inmate is not feeling well, he may choose to skip it altogether. Nobody will go and inquire about a potential problem: they don't give a damn - or are understaffed - and the inmate may die simply from medical neglect.

Many inmates die of drug abuse.. guess who has been bringing drugs into the prison? Inmates families? No! Prison staff does. There has been an epidemic recently in EVERY UNIT -- IT SEEMS TO BE UNSTOPPABLE.

I could go on forever.......

Accountability is lacking.
Enough funds MAY be lacking.
Guards training is lacking. (I'll call them "officers when they are selected from a better educated pool, are given appropriate training, and are paid a decent salary which they certainly deserve!)
Some good folks, who would make good officers, leave in desperation; other good folks stay and do the best they can; then there are the scumbags who are not rendered accountable because there is a "shortage" of applicants. These make life miserable for inmates and other staff alike.
Now, what abou Waedwns? They get a decent pay so....... why are they often invisible, meaning AWOL?
Well.....they often own ranches and they are busy with this second job which, being a form of self-employment, often goes undetected by others in charge.
I'll stop here, DISGUSTED1



Anonymous said...

"Now, what about Waedwns?" Sorry, in the above comment, I meant to say "wardens".

Anonymous said...

Much of your monolog contains bits of accurate information for specific cases, but a large part is painted with a broad stroke that implicates security and medical staff as the primary cause of death. If you will examine the facility locations where most deaths occur, generally you will find they are facilities that house or treat offenders with the most serious medical conditions. Before condemning the care delivery system and their employees, you might also consider that the rate of chronic disease, polysubstence abuse, and general lack of interest in healthcare issues during their days in the free world, many who “died while incarcerated” may very well have lived fewer days under their own priority and value system in the world.

TriggerMortis said...

Age Group, Cause of Death, Crime, and Time in Custody are all needed.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ those saying more data is needed to interpret these numbers, that's why this post ended by calling for them to link the underlying death in custody reports.

FWIW, TDCJ's numbers reported to the AG jumped by roughly 250 per year when they began adding inpatient hospital deaths, so that gives you a rough notion of how many deaths were sick folk vs. those who died from other, various causes.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is quick to jump on the bandwagon that the custodial deaths were some how the fault of TDCJ. TDCJ is overloaded with geriatric and chronically ill inmates. The question I have (and no I haven't looked), is how many of the deaths were from natural causes? I would think is the majority of the deaths.

sunray's wench said...

Anon @ 3.28 - I can totally understand why you would not want to identify the inmate, but if you are not willing to identify yourself, of course no one will act on what is essentially just hearsay. If you were not there, you only have (I assume) the inmate's version. While that may be accurate, the inmate has a grievance procedure to follow and only if that results in no action could it then be taken up by a lawyer, who will want names, dates, times and evidence.

Anonymous said...

I could have not said the truth better agree with you 100% 3:28

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why prison staff are not searched for drugs like anyone else, and what about the gang relation to the staff? dont think that the gangs are almost runing the prison's if you dont think so you never had a love one in this so called justice system i dont give a dam if you believe it or not but it's true.

Anonymous said...

TDCJ is in a cesspool of corruption. They don't conduct real background checks on employees. Gang members without records are hired all the time. There is no pyschological screening of employees. Their training is trash. They hire lots of Bubba's with no brains. Employees who want to do the right thing are retaliated against. The Feds are going to have to step in and clean up the mess again.

Anonymous said...

Having tried to get adequate medical care for someone who is currently incarcerated, I wouldn't be surprised if many deaths result from inadequate medical care. To those who are trying to argue otherwise, no I don't have the facts about specific deaths but I do have facts that demonstrate the medical care provided by TDCJ is far from adequate and is so poor that I have no doubt it has caused many deaths. The fact is, neither the unit level staff nor anyone in Huntsville or Austion care about the issue enough to take complaints seriously. And that attitude will bite them one day.

Anonymous said...

Inmates are humans, someones father,mother,husband, wife,son,daughter.brother,sister. GODS CHILDREN... THEY ARE NOT CATTLE TEXAS, PRISON TIME WAS THERE PUNISMENT FOR THERE BAD CHOICES THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE TO FEAR FOR THERE SAFETY IN A SYSTEM THAT IS SO CORRUPT. WE ALL NEED TO BAN TOGETHER AND DEMAND A JUST AND FAIR JUDICIAL SYSTEM FROM TOP TO BOTTOM LEVEL, CLEAN THE CESSPOOLS OF THIS $$$$$$$$$$$ MAKING BUISNESS YOUR LOVED ONES LOCKED UP DEPEND ON YOU AND ANYBODY ELSE THAT WILL LISTEN AND CARE ABOUT THEM !!

Anonymous said...

Wonder how often the scenario goes something like this http://thefreethoughtproject.com/prison-guards-callously-laugh-mentally-ill-inmate-dies-floor/

Tiel Hero said...

I don't understand why prison staff are not searched for drugs like anyone else

Lisa Evans said...

I called Lane Murray unit on Oct.26th 2015 because I sensed something was wrong with my daughter. They told me she had been transferred to the medical unit at Mountain view. When I called there, they said they could not tell me anything. That the contact manager would have to call me back. On Oct.27th a Ms. Fred or Ms.Fry finally called and I asked if it was attempted suicide. She said yes. When I asked what her condition was, was she in a coma, was she bleeding? She said she could not disclose that. I am her mother and my daughter has signed the form to release info to me. I have corresponded to them for 2 years that they had misdiagnosed her. They are being so nasty to me when I call there. I have no idea what condition my daughter is in. I have wrote patient liason and ombudsman. I am 5 hours away from her. I feel helpless and I am at their mercy. They are cruel.

Emily said...

Do you have an updated list?