Families with loved ones that died in Harris County Jail may be able to seek justice & compensation
Those with family members may be able to seek justice and compensation for the loss of their loved ones.
What We Know About the Harris County Jail Deaths
- Critics and reports claim overcrowding is a serious issue in Harris County Jail
- So far, 3 inmates died in custody in the jail in 2023
- 28 inmates died in custody, including 25 under the jail’s care in 2022
- 2022 closed out the highest number of inmate deaths in a decade
- Harris County Jail’s top administrator resigned amid overcrowding and deaths
- Families are demanding justice—advocates are calling for action
The Facility’s First In-Custody Death of 2023
A man died in Harris County Jail after an altercation with jail staff, marking the facility’s first in-custody death of 2023.
Jacoby Pillow, 31, was arrested Sunday afternoon for trespassing—a misdemeanor offense—and brought to Harris County Jail.
According to court records, he was ordered to be interviewed for a mental health evaluation.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office says Pillow was set to be released on a $100 personal bond early Tuesday morning.
The Sheriff’s Office maintained that when Pillow allegedly assaulted a detention officer, the bond process was interrupted and Pillow was hit with an additional charge.
Jail staff “used force” to restrain Pillow, according to the Sheriff’s Office—he was evaluated by medical personnel and brought back to his cell.
Pillow was found unresponsive the next morning and taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:12 a.m.
The Sheriff’s Office says the Houston Police Department is leading a criminal investigation into the incident
An internal investigation is being conducted by the Sheriff’s Office with the goal of determining “whether all departmental policies and procedures were followed.”
Kevin Smith also died in custody
The 23-year-old—father of a 2-year-old daughter, Ka’Nayaa—was facing sexual abuse of a child charge that was filed in July 2022.
However, Kevin’s mom, Tracy Woodson-Smith, said the case was continued time and time again.
Smith was due back in court later this week for a bond hearing—Woodson-Smith said she believed the charge would have eventually been dropped and is planning to join a Harris County Jail deaths lawsuit.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards Weighs In
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) is responsible for enforcing minimum jail standards for construction, maintenance, and operation.
In 2022, the TCJS found the Harris County jail out of compliance twice:
- Once for keeping 64 inmates in temporary holding cells for longer than 48 hours; and,
- For failing to provide an inmate his required insulin.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the identity of that inmate as 28-year-old Matthew Shelton—an autopsy determined he died of diabetic ketoacidosis.
According to data from the Texas Justice Initiative, a total of 27 people have died in the custody of the HCSO last year, the highest number since 23 deaths in 2006.
Krishnaveni Gundu, the executive director of the Texas Jail Project, along with other jail reform advocates have blamed the facility’s overpopulation as a factor in the increased number of deaths within the jail.
Harris County Jail Deaths Attorney and His Team
Renowned Civil Rights Leader and Trial Lawyer Ben Crump, and the Trial Attorneys at McCathern, Shokouhi, Evans, and Grinke stand with the families that are seeking justice and may be planning to launch a Harris County Jail deaths lawsuit.