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22-year-old Daniel Martinez Dies in the Potter County Jail in Amarillo, Texas, and the Custodial Death is Under Investigation

Amarillo TX

Twenty-two-year-old Daniel Martinez died in the Potter County Detention Center in Amarillo, Texas, at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, 2018. An autopsy is scheduled for May 3, according to a news release from the Potter County Sheriff’s Office. The Potter County Justice of the Peace requested the autopsy so that the exact cause of death can be determined. No further details have been released about the custodial death. The fatality is being investigated by the Texas Rangers, which is standard procedure. In addition, documents and surveillance videos will be scrutinized by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS).

Custodial deaths in Texas have been of particular concern since a report was released in 2016 showing that nearly 7,000 prisoners in Texas died either in the custody of police or in jail from 2005 through 2015. Of all who died behind bars during that period, 2,000 had never been convicted of a crime.

All of the causes of death were divided into categories, revealing the following information:

  • 70% of the prisoners died of natural causes, for a total of 4,870;
  • 11% committed suicide, at 772 total;
  • 8% or 573 prisoners died in a “justifiable homicide:”
  • 4% or 275 died from drug or alcohol intoxication;
  • 4% or 255 died for other reasons; and
  • 2% or 168 prisoners died following an accidental injury.

The races of the prisoners who died in Texas jails during the ten-year period were:

  • 42% white,
  • 30% black,
  • 28% Hispanic, and
  • 1% Other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Statistics were also divided according to prisoners who died specifically in county jails. One number that seems to raise a red flag is that 41% of all county jail prisoners who died had been in custody for only seven days or fewer.

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–Guest Contributor

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