Raw Story reports the following.
A woman serving a short sentence in a Houston, Texas, jail for possession of marijuana died in custody over the weekend, and officers are not saying how or why.
The 29-year-old, identified as Theresa Anthony, had expected to spend just two and a half weeks behind bars in the Harris County lockup. On Saturday, Cynthia Prude, Theresa’s mother, received a phone call from the jail’s Chaplain informing her that her daughter was dead.
“I almost got in a wreck,” Prude told the local Fox affiliate. “I thought somebody was playing on the phone. I would like to know what happened to my daughter.”
Prude has not been allowed to see the body, nor has the Harris County Sheriff’s Department even spoken with her, according to area media.
“Today I still don’t know if that’s my daughter,” Prude told Houston news station KHOU. “I’m only going by a Social Security number that we got from Ben Taub Hospital.”
Houston’s Fox affiliate noted that an autopsy has not yet been conducted on Theresa’s body.
The Harris County Sheriff Department’s public information officer was not available to answer RAW STORY’s questions.
Not the first time
It is hardly the first time serious questions surrounded the death of a Harris County inmate.
On 4 June 2009, the Justice Department concluded a 15 months-long investigation into the Harris County facility and determined in the subsequent 27-page report that over 142 prisoners had died there since 2001. Most expired due to lack of medical care, the report claims.
The Associated Press noted that after the Justice Department declined to make its findings public, The Houston Chronicle was able to obtain a copy, which it released on the Internet.
The findings, addressed to Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, lauded the prison’s efforts to maintain security, booking and intake programs and take basic fire safety precautions. The Justice Department said that by these measures, the facility “complies with constitutional requirements in a number of significant respects.”
The Justice Department added that in spite of these marginal safety and procedural issues, “certain conditions at the jail violate the constitutional rights of detainees. Indeed, the number of inmate deaths related to inadequate medical care […] is alarming.”
If you feel like you want answers to questions about this case, I suggest you make calls to your local media outlets or public officials.