Nathan King was a father of three, a man in good health, proud of his African American and Native American heritage and strong family. He died in the Polk County Jail in July, 2015. He was 37 years old, healthy, and had tested negative for tuberculosis upon arrival. His death, however, was ruled a result of pulmonary tuberculosis.
When Nicole experienced major pain and pregnancy complications, she was repeatedly denied medical intervention. Though she pleaded with staff for hours to help her, she was forced to deliver her baby, alone, on a dirty cell floor. Her daughter was born not breathing, the umbilical wrapped around her baby’s throat.
Chad White, 34, suffers from schizoaffective disorder, a mental illness characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia such as delusions and hallucinations, and by symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression. He was incarcerated in several Texas counties for substance abuse and the behaviors that are not uncommon for people trying to self-medicate an untreated psychotic illness. Yet access to proper medical care was a major barrier in each of his incarcerations.
Victoria Gray, 18, hung herself in the Brazoria County Jail on September 2, 2014 after the jail staff did not respond to her numerous pleas for medication and help. Victoria had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses since her early teens. The jail staff knew of her diagnoses, knew what medications she was supposed to be receiving, and knew that she was at risk for suicidal behavior, as she had attempted suicide there five months previously.
This most recent arrest came about because Victoria was on probation with the requirement that she take psychiatric medication. Her family called the mental health response team of the local police department for help because Victoria was in a psychotic state. When she was jailed for violation of probation, she ended her life.
Victor Sterling, 53, was held in pretrial detention for over two years. He was successfully managing his medical and mental health illnesses with medications prior to incarceration in Montgomery County Jail. Lack of access to those medications and proper healthcare while in jail was an extreme challenge to his wellbeing.
LaVandra Rushing was three months pregnant at the time she was incarcerated in the Dallas County jail in May of 2014. Prior to that, her own physician was monitoring her high risk pregnancy. While incarcerated, LaVandra had medical problems and was hospitalized several times. Her mother Sandra advocated for her daughter and repeatedly put money in her commissary account because of insufficient food. LaVandra’s baby girl was born in November, 2014, and went home with her grandmother. Since she was released, LaVandra has been raising her baby girl.
Henry was held for thirteen months pretrial in Dallas County Jail. While being arrested and then living in the jail, he suffered injuries, went without medical care, and was denied medication. His mother, who lives on disability, would eat less in order to provide him money for phone calls and commissary food. This story is told by his mother, Angel Rose.
This story is told by Maria Anna Esparza about her son Adan, a 25-year-old Marine veteran, who was incarcerated on May 27, 2011. Maria Anna struggled to get him treatment for severe mental illnesses and obtain his release from Comal County Jail where he was held mostly in separation or solitary cells. He was held nearly four years.
Stephen, a behavioral science researcher, was held pretrial from December 2011 to October 2014 with a $400,000 bond. He refused to take a plea deal. While incarcerated, he experienced poor medical care and inhumane conditions of confinement. He was found not guilty by a jury trial and released after almost three years. As a result of his incarceration, he and his wife divorced and he lost custody of their children, as well as his career.
Elizabeth was held pretrial for one month in Montgomery County jail. She had several autoimmune disorders that required proper care, and was nearly 7 months pregnant. Her mother, Cindy, advocated for help as the jail failed to adequately provide for either condition. Their story is told from the perspective of both mother and daughter.