Criminal Justice

3 more people die at Harris County Jail, bringing in-custody death toll to at least 27 this year

This comes as the jail’s daily population continues to hover close to maximum capacity. 

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
Harris County Jail in downtown Houston, on April 12, 2021.

Three more people have died while in custody at Harris County Jail this week as the jail’s daily population continues to hover close to maximum capacity.

William Barrett and John Maxey Jr. — both 74-years-old — died on Sunday from apparent medical complications, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office says Barrett was hospitalized Sunday due to possible cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead later that day at 7:20 p.m. Maxey suffered from complications of colon cancer and was hospitalized on Nov. 3 — he was later was pronounced dead at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Days later, 45-year-old Michael Griego was declared dead at a Houston-area hospital at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning from injuries he suffered during an apparent inmate-on-inmate assault on Nov. 13. The Sheriff’s Office says a criminal investigation is being conducted.

This comes weeks after four others died while in custody at Harris County Jail — Bryan Johnson, 34, Victoria Simon, 42, Alan Kerber, 34, Robert Horn, 70 — bringing the total number of in-custody deaths this year to at least 27, the highest amount in more than a decade.

Advocates have blamed the jail’s bloated population for the increased number of deaths this year. As of Monday, there were 9,865 people in the jail, according to the Harris County Jail dashboard.

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