New Database Makes Texas Deaths in Police Custody Public

Dec 13, 2016

Credit James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle

A database has been made public that reveals the files of over 5,000 people who have died in police custody in Texas, reports The Houston Chronicle.

This week Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office launched an online initiative known as the Custodial Death Report database. This makes readily available the files that a police agency creates when someone dies in custody.

In the past, when someone died in custody, the files could only be viewed after an official request was filed with the police office. The new database is a huge step forward in police transparency, by making it easier to track deaths in city and municipal jails. There are still no public records for county jails, however, as these institutions have no minimum standards or oversight from state or federal authorities.

Assistant attorney general June B. Harden said the AG’s office hopes this will be a tool everyone finds helpful.