Harris County Grades Itself; Grade = D-

The family of Margarita Saavedra recently filed suit against Harris County for her death that occurred on January 12, 2008 while awaiting a trial date in the Harris County Jail. It was a death that was medically preventable, but the county’s neglect eliminated every chance she had of survival. The suit alleges both medical malpractice and a violation of Mrs. Saavedra’s United States’ Constitutional rights. This suit was filed after the United States Department of Justice inspected the jail and found major Constitutional flaws.

Responding to the United States Department of Justice finding of Constitutional violations at the Harris County Jail, Harris County has recently released its response, and I attended the press conference unveiling the county’s response. At the press conference, Harris County gave itself a D- as a grade in the jail’s conduct during Ms. Saavedra’s detention at the facility. This is a remarkably embarrassing grade given the fact Harris County did its own internal investigation. I am not sure how much difference there is between an F+ and a D-, but I know we should expect more from our local government.

The county’s response totaled over 300 pages (compared to the DOJ report of 24 pages), in an effort to both defend against the allegations brought by the federal government, as well as affirmatively attack the DOJ report as inaccurate. If Harris County had put as much effort into its medical facility in 2008 as it has put in this novel of a response, it is likely Margarita Saavedra with be with us today. Our lawsuit will hopefully drill down more fully to obtain the full story and I will report back on the outcome.