Houston – The Harris County Jail has become ‘the house of death in Houston, Texas’, according to community activist Quanell X.
Harris County Jail deemed ‘House of Death’ following inmate’s death
The Harris County Jail has become ‘the house of death in Houston, Texas’, according to community activist Quanell X.
Critics have coined the new and sinister name for the building located at 1200 Baker Street and the outcry against what’s happening there is growing.
RELATED: Former Harris Co. Jailer charged with manslaughter following inmate, Jaquaree Simmons, death
“These inmates are not animals. Treat them with the same dignity that you would treat your brothers and your fathers and your sons and your kids. Don’t treat them like dogs. They are not dogs,” said Jacquelyn Barrett whose husband died in custody.
The latest development is a manslaughter indictment against former detention officer Eric Morales in the death of Jaquaree Simmons.
Attorney Dave Batton represented 11 other officers cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the same grand jury.
“We’ve got some scapegoating going on here. I don’t know why,” said Batton.
MORE: 11 employees terminated, 6 suspended after investigation into Harris County Jail death
Batton says Simmons death occurred during the massive 2021 Winter storm which caused power outages at the jail and forced detention officers on duty to work 30 hours straight without sleep.
“We don’t have enough people working. We can’t work people these kinds of hours and expect them to function,” said Batton.
And there’s more.
Batton believes the public should know Simmons death occurred as the jail was immersed in violent chaos.
“There was a riot. During this time Mr. Simmons had assaulted an officer who was trying to feed him, threw food on him, and came out trying to fight his way out of the cell. The officer hit him, knocked him back into the cell, and closed the cell door. He was out of control. It was hard for the officers to get him under control. And they did everything they could to get him under control,” said Batton.
Whether the force used to subdue Simmons was criminal or justified, will be for a jury to decide, but what few disputes, is that fatigue, under staffing, and accumulated stress likely contributed to the fatal encounter.
CONTINUED: Harris County Sheriff announces disciplinary action after jail death
“We don’t have enough people. That’s why we had a rape in the jail. It’s a powder keg,” said Batton.
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