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Female Prisoner Commits Suicide in Harris County, Texas Jail – Report Provides Few Details

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Inside The Old Idaho State Penitentiary

The Harris County Sheriff’s Department filed a custodial death report with Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas, regarding the death of Tracy Whited.  Ms. Whited was only 42 years old when she passed away.  Information in this post was obtained from that report, and we make no allegation of any wrongdoing against anyone.  Instead, we are simply providing information.

Ms. Whited was arrested on January 12, 2019.  The report indicates that she was arrested for criminal mischief and escape.

On Monday, January 14, 2019, at approximately 7:25 AM, Harris County jail staff performed a visual inspection of a cellblock in which Ms. Whited was incarcerated.  Another prisoner told one or more jailers that Ms. Whited was attempting to harm herself.  Two minutes later, jail staff attempted to remove a sheet which Ms. Whited had used to hang herself by tying one end onto an upper bunk.  One or more jailers then performed CPR.

Ms. Whited was transported to a clinic, and Houston fire Department EMTs arrived on scene.  Ms. Whited was transported to Ben Taub Hospital.

Harris County then released Miss Whited from custody.  We find that cities and counties across Texas will release inmates from custody when inmates become seriously injured or ill, so that the cities or counties no longer have to pay medical expenses.  Ms. Whited was pronounced deceased on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.  The Texas Rangers and others will investigate Ms. Whited’s death.

Suicide is a leading cause of death in Texas County jails and Texas city jails and holding facilities.  All cities and counties in Texas should have in place appropriate policies and practices to deal with suicidal inmates.  If a city or county in Texas chooses to be deliberately indifferent the needs of such prisoners, and/or acts in an objectively unreasonable manner, then the city or county can be liable for resulting deaths.

Rights of prisoners in Texas jails arise from the United States Constitution.  Specifically, pretrial detainees have rights pursuant to the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Prisoners have the right to receive reasonable medical care and mental health care.  If jailers act unreasonably and/or are deliberately indifferent to needs of Texas county jail prisoners, then jailers may be liable pursuant to federal law for violation of United States Constitution.  If death results, certain family members can assert claims for the death.  Such cases are typically filed in federal courts in Texas, in one of the four federal districts.

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Dean Malone Lead Trial Lawyer - Jail Neglect
Education: Baylor University School of Law

Dean Malone is the founder of Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a jail neglect civil rights law firm. Mr. Malone earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Texas at Dallas, graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA, and from Baylor University School of Law with a general civil litigation concentration. Mr. Malone served in several staff positions for the Baylor Law Review, including executive editor. Mr. Malone is an experienced trial lawyer, trying a number of cases to jury verdict and also handling arbitrations through final hearing. He heads the jail neglect section of his law firm, in which lawyers litigate cases involving serious injury and death resulting from jail neglect and abuse. Lawyers frequently refer cases to Mr. Malone due to his focus on this very complicated civil rights practice area.