Pot Possession Becomes a Death Sentence in Harris County

Harris County officials have not yet said what led to death of 29-year-old woman in jail for minor possession

Pot Possession Becomes a Death Sentence in Harris County

Although former national drug czar John Walters liked to say – often with a smirk on his face – that no one in America goes to jail for marijuana possession, the truth is that they do – routinely.

And, sometimes, they die there.

That was the case earlier this month in Harris County, when 29-year-old Theresa Anthony who was in jail for two-and-a-half weeks on a minor pot possession charge, died in custody.

A Sheriff's Office spokesman says jail staff responded to a medical call at 4:15a on June 20. The staff then called fire and EMS, which transported Anthony to Ben Taub Hospital at 4:38a. Anthony was pronounced dead at 5:29a. That's all the office will say at this time, pending results from an autopsy and the results of an internal investigation.

But problems with the county's jail have been making news. Indeed, just last month the U.S. Dept. of Justice issued findings as part of a thorough investigation of the county's inmate detention centers that began last year. The centers came under scrutiny, in part, reports the Houston Chronicle, because of a large number of inmate deaths.

Among the "constitutional deficiencies" the DOJ found was inadequate medical care for inmates with "serious chronic medical conditions." Combined with "problems" in medical record-keeping, the deficiencies "are serious enough to place detainees at an unacceptable risk of death or injury," reads the DOJ report.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Drug War, Marijuana, Harris County Sheriff's Office, Theresa Anthony

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