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Deaths in Law Enforcement Custody in Texas

Published: Oct 03, 2016 in Criminal Defense

Recently, the news media has been more willing than ever before to shine a light on the injustices committed while people are in police custody. People who are detained in police vehicles, jails, and prisons are often offered substandard care to the point that their lives are put in danger. Issues during police custody range from a lack of necessary hygiene products and clothing to the unexplained deaths of arrestees and inmates.

Moving beyond temporary news stories, the Texas Justice Initiative has created a searchable online database of all deaths that occurred during police custody and in Texas jails and prisons in the past 10 years. The website highlights the dire need for police oversight, proper medical and mental health care for inmates, and legal representation for arrestees and inmates.

If you were treated poorly by the police, you should call experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation.

Texas Justice Initiative Data

The Texas Injustice Initiative is able to gather data regarding arrestee and inmate deaths because every time a person dies in jail, prison, police custody, or as a result of police force, the death must be reported to the Texas Attorney General (AG). The initiative obtained the information from the AG’s office through the Texas Public Information Act.

The initiative found that more than 6,900 people have died while in state custody in Texas between 2005 and 2015. Of those individuals, 1,900 died without having been convicted of a crime. Some passed away during police custody pre-booking or between charges being filed and the end of trial.

The top three causes of death were:

  • Natural causes – 70 percent
  • Suicide – 11 percent
  • Justifiable Homicide – 8 percent

While most justifiable homicides are committed by police, they may also be committed by other people. However, not all deaths caused by police force are justifiable homicides. They can be categorized as “other homicide” or “other.”

Texas Custody Death Rates Higher than National Trend

There is great concern over Texas law enforcement custody death figures that have been largely hard to come by or analyze until now. It has become clear that the number of deaths of people in Texas custody is higher than the national rate. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported 16,000 people died nationally in police custody between 2007 and 2010. The top causes of death were:

  • Natural causes – 82.7 percent
  • Suicide – 10.9 percent
  • Homicide – 1.9 percent

The overall number of deaths in custody are higher in Texas than nationally, and the rate of homicides is higher as well. However, there is also concern regarding the upward trend of law enforcement homicides across the country.

Contact a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

If you believe you or a loved one have been mistreated by the police, call experienced criminal defense attorney Ned Barnett right away. Barnett has decades of experience as a defense attorney and believes firmly in upholding everyone’s Constitutional rights.

Contact us at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation.