About the Data

Law enforcement agencies, local jails, and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) are required to report to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) every time a person dies in the custody of the agency or institution. This reporting requirement includes events such as deaths by natural causes in prisons, deaths by suicide in jails, and deaths by police officer shooting in facilitating an arrest.We obtained by public information request to the OAG a database that includes information on all deaths reported between January 2005 and December 2016; that database provided the bulk of the information on this website.

However, gaps in the Texas custodial death data have been identified and we have attempted to fill those gaps. From 2005-2012, TDCJ was not reporting deaths that occurred in an in-patient setting; we supplemented the TDCJ custodial death data submitted to the OAG with data on prison deaths TDCJ submitted to the Bureau of Justice Statistics under a separate reporting program. In addition, researchers at Texas State University published an article in 2016 identifying around 200 deaths by police shooting that had not been reported under the Texas custodial death statute. The researchers kindly provided TJI with their list of unreported deaths, which was added to the Texas Justice Initiative database.

These three sources – data submitted to the OAG under the Texas custodial death reporting statute, data submitted to the BJS by TDCJ, and data compiled by the Texas State researchers – provide the basis for the information contained in this website.

We have redacted identifying information for minors and victims of family violence or sexual assault.

Download the Texas Custodial Death Report.