Executions in Texas declined to 10 this year, but 592 people died in custody of Texas law enforcement agencies, says the Grits for Breakfast blog. Many died in the hands of police or county jails, but the largest number, 400 so far, come from the state prison system. Overall, since 2005, an average of one person each day died in custody in Texas. The number of deaths in custody attributed to the state criminal justice department skyrocketed since the state legislature dramatically cut health care staff in 2011 and attempted to shift health care costs to inmate families.
The total jumped from 147 in 2012 to 441 to 2013. Grits for Breakfast attributes the increase to “inferior health care due to understaffing from the 2011 budget and staffing cuts.” The criminal justice department says it needs a $175 million budget increase for health care in the next two years to meet “minimum standards,” a situation exacerbated by the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, which would have brought up to $240 million more from the federal government for prisoner hospital care.