In reporting “Locked Up and Left to Die,” the Observer obtained two spreadsheets from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards under public records laws. One contains information collected by the agency on deaths in jail custody. The other details the agency’s inspection history for jails under its purview, with the field “Certified” indicating whether the facility passed a given inspection. Both spreadsheets contain fields labeled “At Risk,” which the agency says have not been updated consistently and are unreliable.
The Observer also analyzed more than 400 Texas Rangers investigations into deaths in jail custody over the last decade. We obtained these reports through public records requests to the Texas Department of Public Safety for all Rangers investigations into jail deaths that have been completed from 2010-2021. We reviewed thousands of pages of reports and tracked important details such as suicide risk and evidence jailers falsified documents or dismissed cries for help, which are included in the portion of our spreadsheet published here. While the Observer used these investigations to inform our reporting on jail conditions in Texas, this spreadsheet has inherent limitations. It was built from information documented by the Rangers in their reports, which are often limited and may contain flaws. In our corresponding story, we detail individual cases that have been thoroughly investigated and fact-checked using other documents and interviews. This data, however, includes only information that was detailed in Rangers reports. A blank field in this spreadsheet doesn’t necessarily mean the category or question is not true, just that it was not documented or clear in the Rangers report. The “case summary” section includes only details that were documented by the Rangers in their reports; the summaries are not intended to be comprehensive and have not been checked further beyond the Rangers’ findings as they describe them. Our intent is for case summaries and other details included in this spreadsheet to serve as a jumping off point for further inquiry or investigation.