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Tori Huggins Dies After 16 Hours in Wood County Jail

Silhouette of barbed wires and watchtower of prison.

Tori Brianne Huggins, age 25, was booked into the Quitman, Texas, county jail approximately 16 hours before she was pronounced deceased. The cause of her death is currently unknown and pending autopsy results. She did not disclose any medical complaints nor did she appear intoxicated by drugs or alcohol during intake on March 20, 2024. The Wood County Sheriff’s Department filed a custodial death report (CDR) on March 28, 2024, concerning the custodial death.

Ms. Huggins had responded “yes” to several of the questions on the suicide screening form. For her safety, jailers placed her in padded cell B-4. The address of Wood County Jail is 402 S Stephens St, Quitman, TX 75783. The jail has a 157-bed capacity.

What Events Preceded the Custodial Death?

On the morning of March 21, jail staff entered Ms. Huggins’ cell at about 5:12 AM because she had not responded to a cell check. Jailers discovered that she was unresponsive. The jail staff began administering lifesaving measures, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was contacted. EMS arrived 10 minutes later and took over lifesaving measures. They transported her to a nearby hospital, where Ms. Huggins was pronounced deceased at 6 AM.

There is an indication that Ms. Huggins had made no medical complaints during the overnight cell checks. However, it was not verified that observations were made correctly or as frequently as required.

Are Jailers Responsible for Taking Appropriate Suicide Prevention Measures?

TCJS is the agency that establishes procedural requirements for county and municipal jails in Texas. Through TCJS, the State of Texas recognizes that preventing inmate suicide is a critical issue. Throughout the nation, suicide continues to be the leading cause of inmate deaths within jails, juvenile facilities, and prisons. The suicide rate among incarcerated individuals is generally between 9 to 14 times higher than that of the general population.

Jails in Texas must have comprehensive suicide prevention programs that include:

  • Staff training
  • Intake screening
  • Communications between jail staff
  • Safe and appropriate inmate housing
  • Frequent face-to-face observations
  • Prompt intervention
  • Human interaction between jail staff and detainees

Of these critical suicide prevention measures, face-to-face observations of inmates are recognized as being especially effective. But timing is also recognized as a vital issue. In Texas county jails and lockups, 24% of the suicides occur within the first 24 hours of incarceration, and the recent devastating loss of Ms. Huggins falls in this tragic category.

Texas Jails Often Neglect Face-to-Face Observations

During jail inspections, TCJS inspectors often find that Texas jails have failed to conduct face-to-face observations in the intervals required. This issue is often mentioned in connection with custodial deaths. It was revealed in an October 2023 notice of non-compliance that a custodial death occurred in Denton County Jail after a period of time in which jailers did not view the inmate face to face as required by minimum jail standards. Virtually the same message was conveyed in inspectors’ notes in a July 2023 notice of non-compliance sent to Llano County Jail.

Are You a Victim of Possible Jail Neglect?

Are you the family member of a loved one who died or were you incarcerated in a U.S. county jail and suffered life-altering injuries and suspect jail neglect was the cause? At the Law Offices of Dean Malone, we care about the rights of inmates and their families. Our team dedicated to working on county jail death cases is backed by years of experience representing victims of jail neglect.

If you believe that jail neglect is behind a family member’s death or if severe injuries you are suffering from were possibly caused by jail neglect while you were incarcerated, reach out to us without delay. You can reach us 24/7. Call, text, or fill out our online form today.

Written By: author image smchugh
author image smchugh