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Attorneys Representing Dog Attack Victims Across Texas

This website is maintained by the Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a Dallas, Texas law firm representing people across Texas for dog bite injury cases. We have attempted to provide useful information for those harmed by animal attacks.

Posts Tagged ‘county jail’

As Reports of Continued Problems at the New Orleans, Louisiana Jail Multiply, the Director Quits

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

New Orleans, Louisiana (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

On Monday, January 29, 2018, the Director appointed to address problems at the New Orleans Jail in New Orleans, Louisiana, quit. There was a status hearing that day, in which a litany of problems was discussed. The director began work in October 2016. A lawsuit had been filed over conditions at the jail, resulting in a 2012 jail compliance agreement. The jail moved to a new location in 2015, but the location itself seemed to have nothing to do with the activities at the jail. Suicide attempts and prisoner violence continued at the new facility. Shortly after the new director was hired, in 2016, a 15-year-old succeeded in committing suicide by hanging; and another suicide occurred a few months later.

Among the problems that are recognized at the New Orleans jail are: Prisoner suicides, fights between prisoners, drug overdoses, other smuggled contraband, inadequate staffing, poor training, and a lack of written policies. Mental healthcare is also inadequate, particularly for women prisoners.  Margo Frasier is a court-appointed monitor of the situation and former Texas sheriff. At the hearing about jail conditions, she said she smelled marijuana smoke during a weekend jail visit. She said that on 10 occasions in recent months, Narcan had been used in the treatment of opioid overdoses. On three of those occasions, a prisoner died from an overdose.

Dr. Raymond Patterson, a court-appointed expert, testified at the hearing that, due to inadequate supervision, prisoners frequently manage to secure sharp objects and other items that can be used in suicide attempts.

At the hearing, Frasier insisted that the problems can all be fixed. However, there are growing concerns as problems continue to mount.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 3 Jail Staffers are Charged in a Prisoner’s Dehydration Death

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Milwaukee County Jail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

On February 12, 2018, three staffers with Milwaukee County Jail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were charged with alleged crimes for their alleged roles in the April 24, 2016, death of 38-year-old prisoner Terrill Thomas. Thomas died in his cell from dehydration, and his death was ruled a homicide. An investigation into his death led to a Milwaukee County jury unanimously recommending that seven jail staffers be charged with crimes in connection with Thomas’ death. Two of the three staffers charged with crimes are accused of felony neglect of a resident of a penal facility, which is punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison. The third jail staffer has been charged with obstructing an officer and misconduct/office-act/inconsistent duty, which is punishable for a total of up to 4 years in prison. This individual allegedly failed to preserve surveillance video which showed the water to the cell being cut off and also allegedly lied about what the missing footage showed.

Investigators discovered that the water to Thomas’ cell was intentionally cut off as punishment, after he had flooded his mattress with water. Thomas went a week with no water before dying of dehydration.

Investigators also say they found evidence that two other prisoners at the jail were deprived of water as a punishment. One of those occasions happened a week after the custodial death of Thomas.

Individuals who are incarcerated have civil rights. In Texas, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) monitors county jails and other facilities in which prisoners are detained. Jail staffers can be held accountable for criminal acts against prisoners in Texas, too.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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Requirements for Investigations into Texas Jail Prisoner Deaths are Changed as of January 1, 2018

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Nueces County Sheriff’s Department in Corpus Christi, Texas (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) sent a memorandum to all sheriffs and jail administrators in Texas regarding investigation requirements for custodial deaths, as required by SB 1849. As of January 1, 2018, the investigations into custodial deaths will no longer be conducted by the local law enforcement agency that operates the county jail or facility under the purview of the TCJS.

Under the new rule, local law enforcement agencies are not prohibited from assisting in investigations into custodial deaths. The local agencies are, however, expected to establish a protocol with the investigating branch to prevent any duplication of services or contamination of a scene.

Local law enforcement agencies who contact the Texas Rangers for all custodial death investigations must also provide official notification of the arrangement to the TCJS.

The notice to all local law enforcement agencies who have historically conducted their own Custodial Death Investigation follows:

Effective January 1, 2018, all custodial deaths shall be investigated by another law enforcement agency or entity, as long as no conflicts of interest exist. The other law enforcement agencies could be the Texas Rangers, the District Attorney’s Office, the local police department, or the Medical Examiner’s Office. A primary and secondary investigating agency or entity shall be submitted to the Commission for approval.

Local law enforcement agencies were required to establish procedures for notification in the event of a Custodial Death and implement them by January 1, 2018.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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TCJS Updates Directives Related to Mental Health Referrals for Prisoners

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

(Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) sent a January 23, 2018, memorandum to all sheriffs and jail administrators in Texas to clarify proper mental health referral procedures for prisoners. There has been some confusion created by SB 1326 and SB 1849, both of which are amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure 16.22.

Both SB 1326 and SB 1849 require that a magistrate be notified by the jailer or sheriff within 12 hours when there is credible information indicating that a defendant has a mental illness or an intellectual disability. SB 1849 makes no specification of a misdemeanor class of the individual. SB 1326, however, requires that the magistrate only be notified if the defendant has an alleged Class B misdemeanor or higher. In addition, TCJS concluded that jail staff is not required to notify a magistrate of such individuals who were arrested for Class C misdemeanor offenses. Furthermore, the Commission will not find a jail to be in non-compliance for failing to refer Class C alleged offenders.

The Office of Court Administration was consulted, to address the confusion caused by the conflicting legislation. It was determined that the best practice is to refer every such individual, regardless of the level of crime alleged. This will simplify the booking process. It also reduces the likelihood of failing to make appropriate referrals, since jailers do not have to be concerned about the misdemeanor class the prisoner has been charged with. This will help to ensure that a magistrate is notified of arrestees suspected of intellectual disability or mental illness.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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County Jails in Texas are Required to Provide Needed Medical Services to Prisoners

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

A prisoner in El Paso died of health problems in El Paso County Jail, Texas

El Paso, Texas, courthouse (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) compiled a report indicating that in 2016, 45% of all prisoner complaints were related to medical services. Prisoners have a right to needed medical care, and county jail in Texas have a duty to provide that care. When jail facilities fail to respond to urgent medical needs, prisoners sometimes die. To avoid health-related custodial deaths, county jails must follow such requirements as those laid out in the Texas Administrative Code in the Health Services chapters under TCJS. When a prisoner is denied medical care and dies, investigations are conducted. Jail documentation, including surveillance video, is examined to determine whether jail staff members acted in a manner consistent with minimum jail standards.

For example, TCJS conducted a special inspection after 58-year-old Robert Gallegos died from health problems while incarcerated in the El Paso County Jail in El Paso, Texas. The commission found evidence that supervision and health-service requirements were allegedly not being met at the time of the prisoner’s death. After the full investigation into the health-related custodial death, two detention officers were arrested and charged with tampering with government documents. The officers allegedly documented prisoner checks on Gallegos that they did not make.

Written records showed that routine 30-minute checks on Gallegos were made. Video records provided evidence that they were not. Other documentation showed that he was not given medication as prescribed by a doctor. Gallegos was discovered in his cell cold, pale, unresponsive, and without a pulse at around 5 a.m. on September 16, 2017. Efforts to revive him failed.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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A Prisoner at Cleveland County Jail in Oklahoma Dies Hours After Arrest: A Related Video is Released

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Post Office in Norman, Oklahoma (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

Body camera video released after inmate dies hours after being arrested

Hours after being arrested and booked in Cleveland County Jail in Norman, Oklahoma, on January 16, 2018, 34-year-old Marconia Kessee, an African American, was found unresponsive in a cell and later died at a nearby hospital. The circumstances leading to his arrest involved his refusal to leave Norman Regional Hospital after being treated for a headache. Police officers with the Norman Police Department attempted to talk Kessee into leaving and going to the Salvation Army. Although a 9-1-1 call indicated that Kessee had “wigged out” in the hospital waiting room and needed to be removed, he was ultimately arrested. Kessee’s uncle said that his nephew should have been taken to some kind of crisis center, not a jail.

The video below has been released in connection with the police interaction with Kessee. There is no indication on the video that anything officers did contributed to his death. Police Chief Keith Humphrey said, however, that disparaging comments were made by officers, which caused him concern.

After being booked into Cleveland County Jail, Kessee allegedly attempted to cause himself harm. He was placed in a padded cell and later found unresponsive. Paramedics were quickly contacted, and Kessee was transported to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

The officers involved with the arrest are now on administrative leave while an internal investigation is conducted of the custodial death. One of the officers has been with the Norman Police Department since 2009 and the other since 2013.

A law was enacted in 2017 in Texas to address this common issue of mentally ill people being booked into jail when what they may need is help for their mental condition, not incarceration. The law is referred to as the Sandra Bland Act, in reference to Sandra Bland, who died in Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas, on July 13, 2015. Bland was arrested for an alleged altercation with a police officer after being pulled over for an alleged minor traffic violation. The 28-year-old committed suicide in the jail three days later. A dash cam video of her interaction with the officer who pulled her over went viral on social media, causing huge controversy and sparking demonstrations alleging police brutality and racial discrimination against African Americans.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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Family Members File a Wrongful Death Suit Regarding Sharon Alexander, who was Denied her Asthma Inhaler in a County Jail

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office cruiser, Arkansas (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

On December 14, 2016, 41-year-old Sharon Lavette Alexander of Little Rock, Arkansas, died within about a day of incarceration at Pulaski County Jail in Little Rock. She had been booked into custody the day before her death. When she was processed into the jail, her asthma inhaler was taken from her and not returned. Acute exacerbation of asthma was ultimately determined by an autopsy to be the cause of her death. A federal wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Alexander’s family in January 2018. Several entities and individuals are being sued in connection with the custodial death.

Alexander’s death happened about two weeks after Turn Key Health Clinics out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, had been given charge over medical operations for the jail. Her death initiated a change at the jail regarding prisoner property—asthma inhalers, in particular—according to a spokesperson for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. Previously, a prisoner’s inhaler was to be examined for contraband within 24 hours of admittance to jail. The new policy requires deputies to inspect a prisoner’s inhaler immediately and return it immediately, as long as no contraband is discovered.

On the day of her death, three prisoners assisted Alexander down a flight of stairs, according to Deputy Eddie Turner. He said that she was shaking and had been vomiting. He got a chair for her and called for help from the infirmary. A licensed practical nurse arrived within about 30 minutes. The nurse said a “sick call request” had to be placed in a box, and she would be checked on the following day. Alexander was then assisted back up the stairs by other prisoners. They filled out the request and said that her asthma pump was needed ASAP, the suit claims.

Alexander spoke to her husband that morning and that night, telling him that she had never received her asthma inhaler. The last time he spoke to her, she said she didn’t think she would live through the ordeal. Later that night, she began convulsing. Another prisoner banged for assistance, due to her distress. A medical emergency was declared at 7:58 p.m. In spite of lifesaving efforts by the Fire Department, paramedics, and medical personnel at University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Medical Center, Alexander died at 11:02 p.m.

Among the claims in the lawsuit is that Alexander’s medical needs were treated with gross negligence and deliberate indifference.

In Texas, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards investigates jails after a custodial death has occurred. They make inspections, often based on prisoner complaints. The most common complaint prisoners make is related to inadequate medical attention.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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The Family of a Man Beaten to Death in a Louisiana County Jail Files a Federal Lawsuit

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Beauregard Parish Jail in Louisiana (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

At the age of 40, Tommy Joe Smith was allegedly murdered at the Tangipahoa Parish jail in Amite, Louisiana, on January 31, 2017, by 12 prisoners, who attacked him. An autopsy showed that he died of blunt force trauma to the head. In the first week of January 2018, Smith’s family filed a lawsuit in connection with his death. The lawsuit claims that prisoners known to be violent were free to move between cells, though they knew Smith’s history increased the potential that he would be targeted for violence. The federal lawsuit claims that Smith was brutally beaten to death by a dozen prisoners while authorities in charge of the jail failed to adequately protect him. The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office said things at the jail dormitory were very quickly brought under control, after the brutal attack.

According to Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, the environment created limitations such as the ability of the victim to escape and the safety of jail staff members, emergency medical responders, and the prisoners. The primary consideration, in regards to that comment, was the number of prisoners involved in the custodial death.

In connection with Smith’s death, one juvenile and 11 men have been indicted by a grand jury on manslaughter charges.

In county jails, prisoners have a right to be protected from violence. Certain procedures are in place that provide guidelines for how to run a jail. In Texas, for example, county jails must follow a set of minimum jail standards. Jails are routinely inspected, to ensure that required practices are being followed. If there has been negligence, a jail receives a citation; they have a certain period of time in which to remedy the situation.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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Somerset County Jail, NJ, is Sued in Connection With the Death of Prisoner

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Somerville, NJ, train station (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

On December 27, 2017, the family of Jaquan Williams filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Somerset County Jail and others. Williams died on January 11, 2017, while detained in the Somerville, New Jersey, jail. He had been detained for nine days when he allegedly died from serious injuries sustained in an altercation with his cellmate. He was found unresponsive and with a weak pulse. He was transported to an Intensive Care Unit at a nearby hospital, where he died.

On the day of Williams’ death, his mother visited him at 3 p.m through 3:30. He also spoke on the phone to his girlfriend from 5:51 to 6:30. Williams then ate dinner, and the jail went into lockdown for a detainee count from 8 to 8:30. Then at 9:45 p.m., he was discovered unresponsive in his cell, according to Patricia Belin, Williams’ mother. Belin says it must have been lack of supervision that could result in her son being unresponsive. The staff could not resuscitate him, she said.

The death was investigated and no further details have been provided. All custodial deaths are investigated. In Texas, the Texas Rangers are in charge of such investigations. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) also investigates jail deaths. One of the things that is checked into is whether medical care was provided, as required by minimum jail standards. In this case out of New Jersey, the deceased’s mother claims that he did not receive the prompt medical care he needed, resulting in his death.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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The Death of a Prisoner at Llano County Jail in Llano, Texas, is Under Investigation

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Former Llano County Jail in Llano, Texas (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

Fifty-six-year-old Cindy Lou Yonker of Llano, Texas, was arrested and booked into Llano County Jail the night of December 24, 2017. The next day, in the booking area of the jail, she had a medical incident, according to Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn. Emergency medical services was contacted, and Yonker was transported to Dell Seton University Medical Center at the University of Texas in Austin. That same day, Yonker was released from Llano County Jail, and her case was dismissed. Chief Deputy John Neff of the Llano County Sheriff’s Office said she was released because of her medical condition. On January 2, 2018, at 7:08 p.m., about a week later, Dr. Justin Cegielski pronounced Yonker dead at the hospital. A toxicology report and autopsy by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office has been requested, to determine the cause of death. Yonker’s passing is considered a custodial death, and it is under investigation by the Texas Rangers and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS).

The Texas Justice Initiative is a project with the purpose of building narratives around custodial deaths in Texas. Those involved in the initiative studied data from 2005 through 2015 and found that the Texas Rangers investigated an average of 101 deaths per year. The two years with the most custodial deaths were 2006 and 2015, with 126 and 115 deaths, respectively. They also found that jail deaths outnumbered prison deaths and 76% of prisoners who died in jails had not been convicted of the crime for which they were imprisoned.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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