Inmate Ramon Thomas, 30, Died After Medical Emergency At Harris County Jail
HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS (October 17, 2023) - A 30-year-old man identified as Ramon Thomas has tragically died after some type of medical emergency while in custody at the Harris County Jail.
Harris County officials are saying that the incident began in the evening hours on July 1. Correctional officers noticed that Ramon Thomas was suffering from an apparent medical emergency.
Deputies entered the cell and discovered that the inmate had a low pulse. Ramon Thomas was given life-saving measures before he was transported to a nearby clinic.
He was then transported to Ben Taub Hospital in an ambulance were he was pronounced dead at 10:44 p.m. that same day. His cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.
Family members are saying at the inmate was bipolar and schizophrenic and should therefore have been in a specialized mental health unit. Ramon Thomas’ mother says that the family has been denied access to his body since his death.
A full investigation into the incident remains ongoing at this time.
Liability For Inmate Deaths At The Harris County Jail
Thousands of inmates die in custody each year across the United States. According to UCLA’s Behind Bars Data Project, “In 2020, at least 6,182 people died in U.S. prisons. This is a 46% increase in the lives lost behind bars from 2019, despite a 10% decrease in the overall prison population. The U.S. has seen a significant, continual increase in deaths in prisons over the past two decades, but never before have the country’s prisons seen such a steep increase year-to-year.” Jails should do everything within reason to prevent the inmates entrusted to their care from dying.
- Jails should be staffed by well-trained correctional officers.
- Jail officials should have easy access to Narcan, in the event an inmate is going through an overdose.
- Correctional officials should be able to understand when an inmate is going through a medical emergency.
- Jails should work to understand the root causes of all in-custody deaths at a given facility.
Jails have a legal obligation to provide inmates with adequate healthcare. This begins when an inmate is first admitted. Every inmates should get a thorough health screening as they enter the jail system. This includes mental healthcare. Inmates enter the prison with a variety of different trauma and mental health challengers. These are often compounded by stressors associated with living in a jail. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate who dies in their care, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. There are a number of steps that someone should take to preserve their rights if their loved on died in custody.
- Seek legal counsel as early as possible. A civil rights attorney can help you understand your legal rights and guide you through the process.
- Gather as much information as you can. This will include incident reports, medical records and witness statements.
- An independent autopsy may need to be performed. An independent investigation can help ensure all relevant evidence is properly considered.
- Communicating with the media and advocacy groups can be helpful in bringing attention to your case. This can help ensure authorities are conducting a thorough investigation on their own.
Despite legal requirements, many jails are simply indifferent about the well-being of the inmates in their care. Indeed, abuse and outright neglect are rampant across many jails in Texas and the United States. It is important that inmates and their families understand their rights. When a jail violates the constitution, they can be held accountable. The family of any person that dies in custody may be able to seek some measure of justice through a civil action. A civil rights attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Inmate Deaths At The Harris County Jail
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Ramon Thomas. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what went wrong. Harris County Jail officials also need to fulfill their legal obligations and return this man’s remains back to his family. It is our hope that measures are taken to prevent this from happening again.
Do you need more information about an in-custody death at the Harris County Jail? Our team of civil rights attorneys are here to help get you the information and support that you are entitled to under the law. We are committed to holding jails accountable for their medical neglect and unconstitutional actions. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 214-987-4100.